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Adrienne Dellwo

Fibromyalgia Treatment: Most Common Meds

By October 31, 2012

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Research Brief

New research published in the journal Pain Medicine reveals some interesting statistics about the drug treatments most commonly used by people with fibromyalgia. Researchers note that some common medications lack evidence of effectiveness.

In the survey of 1,700 people, they discovered 182 different types of drugs prescribed for fibromyalgia. The most common included:

NSAIDs and opiates have little or no evidence of effectiveness against fibromyalgia pain. Cymbalta, Lyrica and Savella are the only FDA-approved drugs for this condition.

Most participants - 77.8% - were taking more than one medication.

Other Statistics

As expected, most study participants were female. In fact, 94.6% were women, which is slightly higher than the usual estimate of 90%. Nearly 83% were Caucasian. The mean age was 50.4 years, and the mean length of illness was 5.6 years.

Participants reported spending a lot of money on health care. They also tended to have a lot of health-related work limitations.

Do you fit in the demographics of this study? What medications do you take? Do you take several? Take the poll, and leave your comments below!


November 1, 2012 at 12:45 am
(1) George says:

You need to add a category at the end: “No longer (wasting time and money) on medication”

November 1, 2012 at 9:36 am
(2) Shawna says:

I don’t understand “mean length of illness- 5.6 years”.

I was told I would have this the rest of my life and there is no cure.
I have had it now for 7 years… It has gotten better only because I take freaking handfuls of supplements, pain pills and do light exercise. My entire life is directed by avoiding flares of super-pain and fatigue. I have light to medium pain every day, every hour, every minute. I’m not healed, I’ve only gotten better at dealing with it and distracting myself from the unrelenting misery that is fibromyalgia!

Guide Response: You are correct that fibromyalgia is chronic. In research, the mean illness is how long the participants have been sick. ~Adrienne

November 2, 2012 at 1:31 pm
(3) Kelly Latta says:

It should be noted that the authors of this study oppose the use of medications and instead are proponents of behavioral therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Many of them believe that fibromyalgia has a psychological basis and that convincing patients they only think they are sick or in pain is the most effective treatment. They quite naturally want to believe their point of view has the stronger evidence base. This is known as confirmation bias.

As well, what is often overlooked is that patients and their doctors have every right to choose the best option for patient as individuals. There is no law that requires they use treatments that may not work for them no matter what the researcher believes.

November 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm
(4) Jacinta says:

Had fibro for about 2 years, symptoms of cfs and eb now positive for ebv. Take cymbalta and tramadol. Wouldnt be able to work or sleep without the two….but certainly no cure, still suffer alot….

November 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm
(5) Lois says:

My fibro started just after the 1996 Presidential Vote. Through the years I have tried most of the meds listed. Why should I take meds that make me feel worse?

Along with Fibro I also suffer from a bad back that needs surgery but with the current financial situational we can not afford to buy Health Ins. I takopioidds for my back and get some relief for my Fibro too.

None of these meds help you get a good night of sleep. Sleep is the key to feeling better. I wish my bad back would let me walk for exercise. I use to walk a mile a day when I first was Dxed with Fibro. If you are able to walk then do it. I promise it will help with sleep and Fibro pain.

We have things in common but not every one can be treated with the same meds.


November 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm
(6) Kris Thrasher says:

I’ve had FM for 8 years, treatment for 4. I’m white female 48. Up until this week, I’ve been taking Cymbalta and tramadol. But this combo has completely stopped working so now I’m weaning off the tramadol and in 10 days, starting savella. Little frightened about all the side effects, but it’s worth a shot. I belong to the Patients Like Me community and it seems like either savella was the drug that saved their life or it almost ruined it. So I’m a bit nervous.

November 2, 2012 at 4:11 pm
(7) nancyjean says:

I’ve had Fibro for many years. I take Cymbalta, Hydrocodone, Trazodone, Klonapin and Ritalin. The Cymbalta is key for me. When not taking it, my pain level rises at least 30%. To avoid taking sleep meds, I take Trazodone – an old, inexpensive no-weight-gain antidepressant whose only main side effect is slight sedation. This helps me sleep at night and works in conjunction w/Cymbalta to quell depression. Trazodone leaves no morning after-effect. After trying many OTC pain meds, hydrocodone is the ONLY med that significantly reduces my pain. I always keep some in my nightstand to take when I awaken from the pain. I take it as needed. Klonopin (I use generic) greatly reduces feelings of stress, occasional panic attacks and is a sleep aid – also taken as needed. Ritalin (I use generic) taken at VERY low doses before 4 pm, helps me with brain fog. All of these meds are not expensive, except for the Cymbalta. I am very blessed to go to a wonderful my med doctor (13 yrs. now) who gives me samples once a month. I also get a massage once a month, walk as much as I can, and surround myself with positive, understanding (Fibro educated) friends. Counseling/therapy has given me the “tools” to use to keep me even emotionally and also to help me through rough times. I highly recommend it. My best to all!

November 2, 2012 at 4:13 pm
(8) sarah says:

All drugs are bad and have side effects now or later. CFS and Fibro can be cured. Keep looking for natural doctors with solutions. Had them for 20 years and now completely gone. Absolutely not in head is physical. If in head, neurotransmitters are not transmitting and natural things definitely work.

November 2, 2012 at 4:38 pm
(9) Cheryl Eversoll says:

I TOTALLY DISAGREE with the above statement that Opiates are not
effective for Fibro pain. I literally am saved from completely giving up on daily living & necessary tasks____ONLY BY THE USE OF OPIATES. For
anyone who is at the “end of their pain threshold”, I HIGHLY recommend
you try to get your doctor to order a trial scrip for the lowest dosage of
quick release morphine sulfate tabs (inexpensive) for “breakthrough”
severe pain NOT controlled by your current regimine. The great thing is
you can self regulate by taking a partial tablet if the whole one makes
you to sleepy till you get adjusted. But write down the amount so you do
not go over the doctor’s order in the 4 to 6 hour time limit that a whole
tablet would last in one dose!!!!! The Opiates are the ONLY one of my
meds that blocks/numbs my worst pain to allow me to live on my own
strength yet. I have had Fibromyalgia since 1982. Cheryl

November 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm
(10) Donna P. says:

I just take nsaids. I used to work at Wal-mart. Took some family leave time. My job changed while I was away making it near impossible for me to continue working there so I just gave them my resignation. I have almost no stress at all now which was a good portion of my problems. I now care for my grand kids which is a pleasure. I still have pain and bad days but the bad days are so much fewer.

November 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm
(11) MayaB says:

Agreed on the opiates.

November 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm
(12) Jenny says:

I agree with George. The doctor’s have even given up on what to do because the meds either don’t work or I had terrible side affects. I have had to quit work and have been denied social security disability. I didn’t want to go that route but any little task wears me out, how can I keep a job.

November 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm
(13) Sandy says:

Ditto on the comment regarding poll. I tried almost all of the ones listed and none helped, most made things worse and anything that was SSRI related, I became toxic on. Serotonin toxicity can kill you.

I basically don’t take anything now. I’m on Elmiron for interstitial cystitis and that helps that autoinmmue disorder only. It is the ONLY drug for that problem and they get a lot of money for it.

When I can, I do gentle yoga. I walk some. I just live with it. It waxes and wanes depending on stress and other aggravation levels.

I know someone who works in the drug industry and she has been at meetings where the reps joke about all the drugs they push that the companies know do absolutely nothing and they make billions off of us. The drug companies basically own the FDA and congress.

November 2, 2012 at 8:18 pm
(14) LynnS. says:

I hate this disease and everything about it. I’m sick of being sick and tired. Some meds work for a short while and then I’m back to the pain. I hate talking about it because no one can help and they get sick of hearing about it. (I get sick of telling them about it) It’s even worse if you have no insurance. Have you tried to get free health care? What a joke! I hope and pray you are doing better than me. Life sucks!

November 2, 2012 at 9:18 pm
(15) Nancy says:

I beg to differ with SARAH. It MAY go away in a few people. But it cannt be CURED. I’ve had it for over 20 yrs and I do EVERYTHING medical, physical, holistical, CBT, meditation, exercise, etc etc etc.

I’m WORSE than my younger days. I cannot tolerate Cymbalta, Lyrica nor Savella. So I’m on 15 Percocet a month which I use ONLY when in complete misery with CFS and Fibro

Also Trazadone, Celexa, Flexerill,

November 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm
(16) Diane S says:

Lyrica helps me the most with fibro pain, although I take Savella, too. The med that has helped me the most, though, is Xyrem, which gives me the best sleep I’ve had in decades. With Xyrem, I have much less fog, have been able to lose weight, and feel like myself again. There’s still pain (which was one of the things the FDA looked at in not allowing Xyrem approval for FM) but sleep is such a huge issue for everyone I know with fibro that I’m frankly disturbed that they turned it down.

November 2, 2012 at 9:22 pm
(17) Nancy says:

AND..I completely agree with Cherly Eversol. They keep me wanting to live…just for a little relief.

November 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm
(18) Sue says:

I was going to comment on my struggle with Fibromyalgia. But as I watch what the all of the suffering on the east coast since Hurricand Sandy wrecked havoc and death on so many, I will save those comments for later. Compared to what those people are going through, including those who also suffer fibromyalgia, my life is okay. Really puts perspective what to be grateful for!!!!!!


November 3, 2012 at 10:20 am
(19) Denise says:

I don’t see in your list the medication Gabapentin. I take this since it has the lease amount of side effects. I’ve had Fibro for 3 years now and was told I would have this for the rest of my life that there is no cure. I do take opiods for the pain. If I didn’t have this I couldn’t at least function.

November 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm
(20) Mel says:

Cheryl Eversol’s comment about opiates is right-on. They are the only thing that bring me relief. Cymbalta is a joke…Doesn’t help at all. Haven’t tried Lyrica but am afraid of the side affects. I can’t imagine having FMS and Sandy at the same time. Keeping those people in my prayers.

November 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm
(21) AnotherName says:

I take Pristiq daily and Naproxen on an ‘as needed’ basis (yes, Naproxen works for me to dial down the pain and stiffness). I have also been prescribed Rhovane for those times I cannot fall asleep but must (due to the next days plans) and Clonazepam for nights when restless legs are about to send me up the wall. I take these two in the lowest dose possible and as infrequently as possible. My doctor and I have worked together trying to find what works best for me (trial and error can be so frustrating!). I have been on this med ‘regime’ for a while now and it seems to be the most successful to date. We continue to try and find a good solution which respects my concern over taking prescriptions on a regular basis and his knowledge and experience regarding the safety level and effects of each prescription. I have learned that Fibro is definitely not a static condition – not in it’s symptoms nor in it’s treatment.

November 3, 2012 at 8:01 pm
(22) lilly says:

I take Elavil, Flexeril and Valium somentimes when pain it’s out of control, it help most of the time specially helps me to sleep of course.
I have give up my full time work for a prn due to extreme fatigue and pain. Iam try to find another alternative way to help my family financially, try to be positive as much as possible.

November 3, 2012 at 10:38 pm
(23) Cindy H says:

Opiates are the only prescription medication that help for pain. I started acupuncture over a month ago and it is helping with the pain so that I’m not having to take quite as many hydrocodone and is helping somewhat with the fatigue. Before the temps dropped into the 50′s, I felt significantly better with the acupuncture/hydrocodone combo. For those interested in affordable acupuncture I highly recommend checking to see if there is COMMUNITY based acupuncture clinic as they work on a sliding scale and can cost a fraction of a “store front” clinic. I do take clonazepam to help me fall asleep and keep me asleep. Have tried gabapentin which caused me to have major mood swings. Also tried cymbalta which caused a very fast heartbeat.

November 3, 2012 at 11:22 pm
(24) Yvette says:

I have tried all the meds for fibro.Nothing helped,I quit them from side effects.I started putting hemp oil on my skin last Nov and after a few days the pain relief I was getting was blowing me away.After a week not one pain pill,just oil on my body.It has calmed the pain,muscle spasms,twitching,burning.I am a new person.Not cured but able to enjoy my new life.Hemp oil will always be my medicine of choice.Its sold as salad oil in health stores but its my pain management for the last year and chemical FREE!

November 3, 2012 at 11:47 pm
(25) SARAH says:

To Nancy and all others,

You just have not found the right natural doctor yet and wonderful supplements. Keep looking. I know people who like me no longer have this horrible painful confusing disease. Have done EFT homeopathy, medical hyptomist, rebirthing, The Reconnection, Various supplements, chiropractor, etc. Best of luck and Love. Never give up. Help is out there.

November 4, 2012 at 11:57 am
(26) Nancy A. says:

I’m on Lyrica and doxepin for my fibromyalgia. I’m also on generic Topamax for prevention of migraines, which works very well for me.

I’m no longer able to take NSAID’s because I had GI bleeding (stomach ulcers) caused by long-term use of these medications in the past, including aspirin, ibuprofen and Aleve (naproxen sodium — OTC brand of Naprosyn). Be very careful with these OTC drugs. Long-term use can cause life-threatening GI bleeding. I was hospitalized three times over a 16-year period for this reason, and I stopped taking NSAID’s forever at that time in 2005.

I now have to rely on Lyrica and occasionally Tylenol for extra pain relief, but I’m stil in a lot of pain. I tried going to a pain management doctor but he wouldn’t give me opioid meds — he just said to stay on Lyrica. I tried both Cymbalta and Savella and had to discontinue them because of bad side effects.

November 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm
(27) Mary T says:

I was dx’d 2 yrs ago w/ fibro. I have tried cymbalta & gabapentin which helped for a while but then became non-effective. I am now on savella and I seem to be doing pretty well. I wish it helped with the fatigue which was one thing I was hoping for. The last week with all the rain we got from from Hurricane Sandy seemed to bring on a flare, it was a rough week of pain and brain fog. It’s tough to work with it and I have cut back to 32 hrs a week. I take tramadol on my worst days. I also take flexeril and meloxicam and a benadryl at night to help me sleep.

November 4, 2012 at 6:49 pm
(28) michelle says:

i was finally diagnosed after 2 yrs of pain after birth of twin via c section – was put on antidepressant amitritlyne and gained 3 stone – been of that 2 yrs and still trying to lose the weight – now take tramadol every day and citlapram and also morphine based patches – i wouldnt be able to cope without my meds – i have mild chest infection and spend all weekend in bed as smallest cold etc just wipes me out – the fibro does that good enuff on its own without the other stuff on top
i hate it, had therapy to try to come to terms with it, got twins who are nearly 6 yrs and so hard to explain why mummy doesnt do much
there is not enough understanding about this condition, and too many peple think its all in your head or your being lazy. i would love to go back to work but living in pain all the time with severe tiredness not an option. i am in uk and its good to read about other world wide who understand
love to all xx

November 5, 2012 at 4:48 pm
(29) Brenda H says:

I agree with George!!!! After a horrendous and life changing experience coming off of Cymbalta, I have never taken another drug for my Fibro. I believe that the drugs can be as bad, if not worse than the disease itself. I am now a firm believer of taking control of my own health and utilizing some of the alternative treatment options available. Also, exercise has helped to make a vast improvement in how I feel. A slow process, but it works!

November 6, 2012 at 7:15 pm
(30) Elaine Bartlett says:

Topamax as given by my neurologist for ocular migraines…has helped my Fibromyalgia!!! She and My General practioner have made notes of this.
They both are amazed and I also don’t have sleepless nights anymore.

In my life I have a lot of stress ! Cymbalta just made me gain weight and did not help! Topamax has no side effects for me.

November 7, 2012 at 8:01 pm
(31) Patricia says:

Has anyone here tried LDN, Low Dose Naltrexone? It has helped me qite a bit, not a stand alone treatment, but works great along with thealternative treatment with needed supplements,

November 9, 2012 at 9:02 am
(32) Andrea says:

I’ve tried Many Meds, & The only thing that keeps me going is Opiates,

November 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm
(33) Alisa says:

Would be nice if the poll had none of the above or no medications at all. I react to EVERYTHING and am no medication at all. :(

November 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm
(34) Marti says:

I am 71 and have had FM for 16 years, with a lull in the middle of that time.Celebrex helped in the beginning, and I never stopped taking that. I had H1N1 flu three years ago, and FM came roaring back, worse than ever! Rheumy started me on Cymbalta, Soma and Xanax, all of which I continue to this day. But nothing helped the migraines. In reading here and elsewhere, I found LDN (mentioned by Patricia).

What an overnight difference it made! Headaches gone overnight.! The all-over pain is much less, and fog and balance are better (not gone). You will have to prescribe yourself. Studies are being done at Stanford U and Syracuse U, but MDs don’t know anything about it. Lots of info on line and a great LDN website!

I order it from Canada, in 50 mg. tabs. Crush and dilute one tab in 50 ml. distilled water. Start 1.5 ml/day at bedtime, max of 5 ml./day in one dose, using baby “syringe”(oral). Very cheap, very easy, no side effects!!

Good luck. Try it — there’s a high chance you will like it. Just remember — NO opiates with it, as it is an anti-opiate (used in 50 mg. strength by drug addicts).

November 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm
(35) mon says:

I don’t take any of these meds. I have been told by GP’s to take them, but they just add to the toxic responses in my body. I seem to just experience side effects and very little benefit.
I use acupuncture,Bio resonance and control my symptoms with diet, meditation and gentle exercise along with pacing. I’m also trying to manage toxic effects with far infrared thermal therapy.
It seems to me that all this medication is really not as helpful as the medical profession would have us believe.

November 9, 2012 at 8:06 pm
(36) NanC says:

I have tried several of the drugs you have listed with numerous side effects which I either couldn’t or wouldn’t tolerate.
Each of my doctors I have seen over the years, excluding the one that diagnosed my FMS, has tried to put me on anti-depressants.
What about anxiety medication? Has anyone had an experience with it. I have recently learned about one called Baspirone. I am going to talk to my dr about it and see what she has to say.
Also I have added L-lysine to my ovc meds. Not sure if its helped FMS yet but I had a cold sore this week and it barely bothered me. Unheard of in my past of huge sores, swelling and pain.

November 10, 2012 at 12:25 am
(37) Carol says:

I have had great improvement since starting LDN. It helps with the pain and I have more energy. Also take Ambien to sleep

November 10, 2012 at 11:39 am
(38) elizabeth rand says:

asking question to anyone whos tried LDN, how long does it take to work if it is going to? My Dr says it might cause insomnia. Has any
one found that it does this?

November 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm
(39) Alice says:

I agree with George and Sarah. I don’t take any Rx meds, only use holistic. Acupuncture, yoga, diet and appropriate supplements.

November 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm
(40) Dawn says:

In my case, I’m on coumadin for blood clots, so NSAIDs aren’t even an option. I’ve tried multiple meds, including Lyrica, which didn’t do much. I just recently started Cymbalta, and am looking at an increased dose by my next appointment, because so far it’s not helping much either.

I just recently won my disability case and am hoping to start regular physical therapy soon. My doctor thinks that long-term aquatic exercise will probably be the best option for me.

November 10, 2012 at 9:07 pm
(41) Texas Carol says:

Trial post seeing if posts

November 21, 2012 at 10:07 am
(42) Aurora says:

currently take Savella and Mobic, but after a tendonitis, stopped taking the Mobic and now on Celabrex for inflamation. The inflamation seems to be my main complaint. while taking a Medroldoze pack my dry eye stopped for a few days. It sure was nice! I think after the frist of the year I’m going back to juicing and being a vegan. Being a vegan was my healthiest point of life.

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