Pain Medications for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia pain is not a hopeless case. As physicians gain more understanding of the disease, many types of medications have been developed to treat its symptoms. By working with brain chemistry, these medications not only relieve pain but improve sleeping problems, anxiety, and depression as well.  Antidepressants, pain relievers, sleep aids, anticonvulsants, and narcolepsy drugs are some of the commonly prescribed treatments for fibromyalgia symptoms.

The ultimate goal of the treatment is to enable patients to regain their normal ability to perform day-to-day tasks. By easing the pain and other physical, emotional and psychological discomforts, the above treatments should enable fibromyalgia patients to maintain their typical social activities, personal relationship, and employment.

A typical treatment program includes medications and exercise therapy. Research shows that aerobic exercise such as swimming or walking helps in relieving fibromyalgia pain.

Treating Fibromyalgia on Symptom-by-Symptom Basis

Firbomyalgia Treatment PlanUnder this approach, fibromyalgia therapists focus on the most prevalent symptoms, which may differ from patient to patient. Major symptoms are deep muscle pain, fatigue, sleeping problems, morning stiffness, headache, cognitive problems, anxiety, and depression.

There is no single pill for treating all fibromyalgia symptoms. Doctors must determine which symptoms are to be treated first, and then try a combination of medications aimed at these symptoms. Usually, symptoms that have the most negative impact on patient’s quality of life are prioritized in the treatment plan.

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This treatment approach mainly works by trial and error method as every patient responds differently to specific medications.  Deciding on what medication to take first is difficult on the part of the physicians, but close collaboration with patients should make this treatment approach somewhat productive.

Fibromyalgia Pain Treatment

Pain reliever, anticonvulsant, antidepressant or a combination thereof may be prescribed if muscle pain is the major symptom.

Mainly intended to treat seizures, anticonvulsants are effective pain reliever.  Lyrica is the first fibromyalgia-specific anticonvulsant to gain approval from the US  Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Neurontin and Ativan are other brands of anticonvulsant that are currently being considered for fibromyalgia treatment.

Antidepressants, aside from easing fibromyalgia pain, treat other fibromyalgia symptoms such as depressive mood and sleeping problems

  • Selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIPs ) are recent innovations in fibromyalgia pain management. Major brands of SNRIP are Cymbalta, Effexor, and Savella. The first one is the only fibromyalgia-specific antidepressant to gain approval from the FDA, while the other two also ease fibromyalgia pain. Patients with bipolar disorders are prohibited from taking SNRIP for it may worsen their psychological instability.
  • Scientific findings show that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Zoloft, Prozac, and Paxil can also benefit fibromyalgia patients by improving sleeping pattern and relieving pain. However, SSRIs are less effective than SNRIPs in treating fibromyalgia-induced fatigue and tender points. This puts SSRI behind SNRIP in terms of over-all effectiveness in treating fibromyalgia.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants are also commonly used in treating fibromyalgia. Common brands include Elavil and Amitril.  But beware of the side-effects of these medications, such as dizziness, fatigue, and weight gain. Do not expect improvements in anxiety and mood disorders if you take tricyclic antidepressants in low dosages. Nevertheless, consider tricyclic antidepressants if you want to get a restful and thorough sleep.
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Combination antidepressants: Taking a combination of various antidepressants can sometimes help. For instance, taking both Prozac and low-dose Amitril or Elavil can improve anxiety, depression, and muscle pain caused by fibromyalgia. In addition, sleeping will be more restful. Patients will be less fatigue and notice improved sense of well-being.

Take pain relievers to break the cycles of fibromyalgia pain. Ultram and Ultracet ease muscle pain, flare-ups, and muscle spasms. Flexeril, a muscle relaxant, also relieves pain in addition to improving sleep. For painful triggers points, painkillers or cortisone can be injected to break the cycle of pain and muscle spasm.

Treating Fibromyalgia-Induced Insomnia

Sleeping difficulty is one of the major complaints of people with fibromyalgia. According to scientific studies, inadequate or disrupted sleep impedes growth hormone production. Growth hormones play a crucial role in restoring the body, thus its inadequacy will prevent muscle cells from recovering. The production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin will also drop. As the body fails to recuperate from daily stress, sensitivity to pain will increase.

There are cases of fibromyalgia-induced insomnia that are caused by specific symptoms such as sleep apnea or reckless leg syndrome. If the cause of insomnia is not evident, physicians may prescribe the following medications:

  1. Ambien, Lunesta, Rozerem, Sonata, or other prescribed sleep medications. These brands are not addictive when taken in low doses. These medications are also called “short-acting” because they get metabolized immediately once taken. Each drug has varying mechanisms. Some cause drowsiness, while others put people into deep sleep, making them less likely to be awakened by external disruptions.
  2. Amitril, a low-dose tricyclic antidepressant, should make sleep more restful and restorative.
  3. Lyrica, an anticonvulsant drug, also works for fibromyalgia induced-insomnia and fatigue.
  4. According to scientific studies, Xyrem (a narcolepsy drug) can improve sleeping problems and pain. This potent sleep medication enables fibromyalgia patients to sleep deeply.
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Fibromyalgia-Pain Treatment Through Healthy Lifestyle

Dealing with chronic pain is challenging, so fibromyalgia patients should try as many approaches to pain treatments as possible.

Exercising regularly will stimulate the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that elevates mood. Other benefits of exercise therapy are improved blood flow to muscles, stress relief, and deeper sleep, thereby easing pain.

Other lifestyle approaches beneficial to fibromyalgia patients are relaxation techniques, stress reduction, yoga, visual imagery, and prayer.

To be realistic, the above approaches to fibromyalgia pain treatment may not bring absolute relief. Making pain more tolerable to enable fibromyalgia patients to resume or maintain their normal life is already quite an achievement.

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7 Responses

  1. Jesmi says:

    The most effective pain relief medications in the treatment of fibromyalgia are the tricyclic antidepressants, medications traditionally used in treating depression.

  2. Obama says:

    also suffer this disease and really painful, but based on appropriate medicines’m doing to get ahead, this medication oxycontin is good for pain but it causes anxiety and is dangerous if you can not control it, findrxonline visit a few months ago and in his article on oxycontin show that can be dangerous if not prescribed by a doctor and if one does not adequately control the sensations they produce, I really hope to have more news from you.

  3. pain management doctors florida says:

    Evaluation by an occupational and physical therapist often provides worthwhile advice on improved ergonomics, bio-mechanical imbalance, and the formulation of a regular stretching program. Hands-on physical therapy with heat modalities is reserved for major flares of pain, as there is no evidence that long-term therapy.

  4. It sounds like such a painful disease fibromyalgia. I read about it before but never truly understand it. I hope they find the cure soon such a painful way to live the rest of your life.


  5. Muscular and back aches can hinder your ability to work, do household chores and yard work, and enjoy your favorite outdoor activities with family and friends. Chronic back pain can even lead to sleeping difficulties and depression. There are many over-the-counter as well as prescription medications on the market to help relieve muscular and back aches, but oral pain medication in spray form promises faster relief than most others.

  6. Philip Prewett says:

    Been dealing with Fibromyalgia for few years. Coupled with prior back disc herniation. Neuron tin, Lyrica, Ambien, Norco, TCA, Effexor, Wellbutrin, plus Nexium, all to no avail. Lost job and close to losing desire to do anything. Sleep is a joke. Pain management MD is clueless and Rhuematologist is trying but seems stuck on Neurontin as cure-all. Sleep clinics as well. Basically tired of trying and hold several graduate degrees in Psychology and Counseling., so doctor cannot heal thyself. Sick and tired. Help. Right now Oxycotin sounds good. Morphine even better, which is crazy thinking. Just the way it is when your life is turned upside down in a span of less than two years

    • Krissi says:

      I feel your hopelessness and pain. In same boat but it is sinking…and not quite as well educated as u. Feel like I have been thrown into a ” fibro” group because they are out of ideas or just don’t want to deal with me. Please reply…u seem to be the first person to understand the pain and hopelessness

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