Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography /

Are you suffering from AMPS…we can help you!

Miriam Hillman PT, DPT, CKTP


Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome (AMPS) is a very painful medical condition which affects children.  This syndrome can cause pain anywhere in the body. These episodes of pain can be intermittent or constant and can affect the whole body or be localized to just a limb.

In AMPS, there is a “short circuit” in the nervous system which causes normally painless signals to be identified as pain in the brain. This feeling of pain is “amplified” and therefore contributes to loss of function and mobility. AMPS is also known as pediatric fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Patients with CRPS can exhibit swelling in the affected body part as well as changes in skin temperature (cool) and skin color (blue).

There are three likely causes for amplified pain: injury, illness and psychological stress.

Injury: These children have suffered a specific injury, usually traumatic in nature, such as a broken bone, moderate to severe muscle strain or sprain or have developed pain after surgery. The symptoms of AMPS can occur suddenly or take weeks to develop. Due to the lapse in time between the injury and manifestation of symptoms, AMPS can be challenging to correctly diagnosis.

Illness: Illness is an infrequent cause of AMPS, but can be more commonly seen in conjunction with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, tendonitis, myositis or enthesitis. Other illnesses that may be the initial cause are infections such as mononucleosis, gastroenteritis or influenza.

Psychological stress: Stress can worsen and/or trigger amplified pain. Stressors do not have to be negative in nature but can be due to additional pressure at school, in their home or among the child’s social environment as well.

Treatment:  A thorough multidisciplinary approach to treating AMPS includes physicians, physical therapists and psychologists along with continued involvement of parents, siblings and teachers. It is through this team approach and open communication through all channels, that the patient reaps the largest benefit.

The physical therapy component of this treatment program focuses on an aggressive and challenging exercise regimen to “reset the nervous system”. These exercises are primarily focused on functional return of the affected limb or body region as well as return to school, recreational activities and athletics as soon as possible.

Miriam Hillman PT, DPT, CKTP has trained at the Center for Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia (CHOP) and Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  She has extensively treated patients with various neuropathic pain conditions and feels very strongly that physical therapy is an integral part of rehabilitation and the recovery process.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417. Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ. You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit with us.