Drugs for Fibro
While there are drugs for fibromyalgia pain, there is not one prescription medication that works for all fibromyalgia patients. Lyrica and Cymbalta seem to be the best drugs for fibromyalgia pain.
There are not very many drugs for fibromyalgia pain. Fibromyalgia is only now beginning to be taken seriously by the medical community.
Until 2010, few medical studies had been published on fibromyalgia. In fact, many people with fibromyalgia share similar stories about doctors brushing these patients off as hypochondriacs and mental patients.
Fibromyalgia can be so debilitating that people have to quit their jobs. Fibromyalgia patients describe pain and exhaustion so bad that simple moves like getting out of bed or walking across the house can seem too daunting of a task.
“Taking each day one at a time” is a common phrase repeated by those with fibromyalgia.
Currently, there is no standard of care for fibromyalgia in the medical community. Physicians appear to treat fibromyalgia symptom by symptom, rather than going to the root cause of the illness.
This is most likely because medical science does not know what the root cause of fibromyalgia is.
With over thirty-nine different symptoms being associated with fibromyalgia, it is easy to see why doctors might prescribe several different drugs for fibromyalgia.
On top of all of the prescription drugs to treat fibromyalgia symptoms, there may be other drugs prescribed to alleviate the common side effects of each drug.
Not only do fibromyalgia patients suffer from crippling pain and fatigue, they also experience sleepless nights, mood swings, intestinal issues, depression, headaches, hormonal imbalances, morning stiffness, and brain fog.
The chief complaint among practically all fibromyalgia sufferers is pain everywhere in the body. Not only are there tender points located all over the body, there are also various joint and muscle aches and pains as well.
Physicians have a choice of several prescription “pain meds” that help fibromyalgia.
In 2007, the FDA approved Lyrica as the first drug to treat fibromyalgia specifically. Lyrica was followed in 2008 by Cymbalta. Lyrica and Cymbalta reduce pain and improve daily function.
Since fibromyalgia patients experience pain differently than healthy people due to the brain misfiring signals to the pain receptors, it is believed that these two drugs for fibromyalgia affect how neurotransmitters in the brain work.
Lyrica is a seizure medication. It also relieves nerve pain in diabetes patients, as well as the pain associated with shingles.
Cymbalta, a serotonin- norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) was originally developed to treat depression, anxiety, and diabetic nerve pain.
Lyrica, unfortunately, causes drowsiness and problems with mental concentration, which are already issues in fibromyalgia patients. In addition, Lyrica can cause dizziness, blurred vision, swelling, weight gain, and dry mouth.
Cymbalta can cause nausea, drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, and sweating. Because Cymbalta is an anti-depressant, it can increase the risk of suicidal thinking.
While a substantial number of fibromyalgia patients have reported having reduced pain levels on either of these drugs, others have not seen a reduction in pain at all.
Some doctors recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprophen (Advil or Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve) for pain.
Other doctors may try muscle relaxants instead of, or in addition to, pain relievers. Amrix, Flexeril, and Skelaxin are the most commonly prescribed muscle relaxant drugs for fibromyalgia pain.
Mobic is a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug that has shown some positive results with fibromyalgia pain.
Fibromyalgia patients who have used Lyrica report the following:
Serotonin- norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed drugs for fibromyalgia- related depression. Besides Cymbalta, there are other SSRI anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs that have been prescribed for fibromyalgia:
James M. Ferguson, MD, in the Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, writes to his colleagues about the adverse effects of SSRIs. He admits that modern SSRIs are much more effective and are better-tolerated than “first generation” antidepressants.
At the same time, Dr. Ferguson states that the side effects from these newer SSRIs are disconcerting.
Dr. Ferguson is greatly concerned with the sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and sleep disturbance that are caused by long term use of SSRIs for depression.
He states that clinical trials prescription drugs typically only last six to eight weeks. This is not enough time for long term side effects to appear in patients who take the drugs. Rare side effects may not show up until more than 5000 people take the drugs.
Women who take SSRIs, according to confidential surveys, state a lack of sexual desire and the inability to experience orgasms. Men who take SSRIs admit a lack of sexual desire, impotence, and delayed ejaculation.
Weight gain is another side effect of taking SSRIs that many patients fail to report. However, uncontrolled studies report mean weight gains of between fifteen and twenty- four pounds within six to twelve months of taking prescription SSRIs for depression.
Anti- depressants, in general, interfere with sleep cycles. This may have special concern for the fibromyalgia patient.
In addition to side effects, Dr. Ferguson also expressed concern over withdrawal symptoms when a patient elected to wean off the SSRI medication.
While he reports most of the symptoms as mild, including headaches, sweating, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, and agitation, he also mentions an increase in fall risks and losing work due to withdrawal symptoms. He recommends tapering off the drugs slowly.
FDA.gov, “Living with Fibromyalgia, Drugs Approved to Manage Pain”
Drugs.com, “Fibromyalgia Medications”
Pubmed.com, Primary Care Companion of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2001 February; 3(1): 22–27. “SSRI Antidepressant Medications: Adverse Effects and Tolerability.” James M Ferguson, M.D.
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