Friday, June 11, 2010


I was wondering about the treatments that are out there for Fibromyalgia. There is so much confusion about the drugs that are approved for this disease. What are the drugs and what are the side effects?

Let's start out with the antidepressants. First of all, too many doctors feel that we are depressed and that is why we feel the way we do. So what do they do? They pull out their prescription pad and write us a script for an antidepressant and hope we go away. Personally, this is why I don't like the use of them. I'm not saying they are not helpful in the treatment of the depression that we get as a result of chronic pain or that we shouldn't be prescribed antidepressants. I'm just sensitive to doctors using it as a catch-all so we go away. 

Antidepressants such as Cymbalta, Savella, Paxil, Zoloft, Elavil have been used to decrease the pain of Fibromyalgia as well as depression. The side effects are nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, tiredness and trouble sleeping. In the case of Savella, one of the side effects is suicidal thoughts and you are instructed to call your doctor immediately if this occurs.  Again, I'm not against any taking antidepressants, they're just not for me. I'm not comfortable with something that with causes that kind of gastrointestinal upset. If I start to throw up the medication is going to go out the window. Sometimes the side effects are worse than the disease that you are trying to medicate. They have been helpful for some people so it might be an avenue if you suffer from depression.

Then there are the analgesics; the pain killers. They include anything from the over the counter Tylenol to the prescribed narcotics such as oxycodone. These medications don't alter the Fibromyalgia but they do take the edge off of the pain. The major side effects are drowsiness and some people have stomach upset. Doctors don't like to prescribe narcotics long term due to dependence and addiction. I think this country has a very skewed view on pain. We'd rather someone be in pain than risk addiction. How stupid is that? I understand there is a huge abuse problem with prescription drugs, however, we cannot alter the system because of those who do abuse the drugs. There are chronic pain problems out there and we should not have to live in pain. Dependence is much different than addiction. The thing you have to be careful of is acetaminophen because it can be toxic and harmful to your liver. I asked for oxycodone because lortab had acetaminophen in it and I didn't want to take the chance that I would have liver damage by being on it long term.

Next there are muscle relaxers. They can decrease the pain as well. I know the muscle spasms I get in my legs make me want to take a baseball bat to them. I do take Zanaflex because it is also an antispasticity and helps relieve the muscle spasms. The side effects of muscle relaxers can be drowsiness but if that happens you can take them at night to help you get some sleep.

Anti-inflammatory medicines are also prescribed such as Celebrex and naproxen. The side effects can be bleeding from stomach ulcers. Well, that would do it right there for me but some people tolerate it very well.

Sleep. What we wouldn't give for a full nights restful sleep. There are medications like Ambien and Lunesta. I've never tried them because, for me, when I take the muscle relaxers, pain medications and melatonin I do get some sleep. I'm a little scared to add a sleeping pill on top of all of that. I've heard that you do sleep though and that could be wonderful. A whole nights sleep! Just think!

Anti-anxiety medicine like Xanax or Klonopin helps because anxiety contributes to muscle pain, irritability and tension. The problem is that the side effects can be depression and decreased memory.  The good thing is that these can help with sleep and the muscle spasms in the legs.

Then there are the anticonvulsants. Lyrica, which I am not crazy about, has weight gain as a side effect and hell will freeze over before I subject myself to that. Then there is neurontin and gabapentin and topiramate. I didn't do well on the neurontin. I got agitated and restless but it was when I started getting severely depressed that I knew I needed to see the doctor and get off this medication. I have a girlfriend with MS and she takes quite a bit of it with no problem but I couldn't take it at all. I've taken topiramate with no problem and it does help the pain somewhat.

I guess what I am trying to say in all of this is that there is a veritable cornucopia of medications out there that can help manage Fibromyalgia. Some of them will work for you and some won't. We have different needs and tolerate medications differently as well. I don't think we should have to live our lives in pain. I think there are things that we can do to at least take the edge off. We have enough to deal with trying to manage all the facets of this disease, so if we can have a little relief, I welcome it.

Soapbox done. I'm stepping down now.

1 comment:

  1. Hi my friends,
    I am kind of back.....please don't ever step down from your soap box!!!!


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