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13 Replies
tinklover - May 12

Been miserable the last 2 years... terrible anxiety, dizziness, headaches, body aches, neck/shoulder pain and random stabbing chest pain and terrible fatigue. Have been thru the trigger points and had 14 out of the 17. I have had an MRI, cardiac work up and been to the crazy doctor (zanax prescribed) endless blood work.... apparently they are all convinced nothing is wrong. Well.... my anxiety has been off the charts lately. The stabbing chest pains scare me and the fatigue is awful which I feel panics me because I think there is something seriously wrong with me. I went back to the doctor and she still has never officially diagnosed me, but put me on Savella. Has anyone tried this? I am super sensitive to medication and am worried. Part of me is convinced to just take the zanax for the anxiety and tylenol/aleve, etc. for pain... PLEASE HELP. Thanks :)


January - May 12

I don't know if you were taking antidepressants in the last two years or before then, but all the symptoms you describe can be CAUSED by antidepressants, or by withdrawal symptoms if you discontinue antidepressants. This is not to say they don't work for SOME people. For other people, they are not good drugs.

WHEN did you start the Savella? In some people Savella causes high blood pressure. If you are having stabbing chest pains, you might want to ask the dr. about this. I don't think you should be taking NSAIDs like Alleve with this drug. Here is a list of SOME of the side effects of Savella:

This information is from the Natl. Institutes of Health website: SAVELLA

What side effects can this medication cause?
Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

stomach pain
weight loss
dry mouth
feeling of extreme facial warmth and/or redness
increased sweating
blurred vision
difficulty falling or staying asleep (IS THIS WHAT YOU MEAN BY "ANXIETY?")
decreased sexual desire or ability
pain or swelling of the testicles
difficulty urinating

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms call your doctor immediately:

hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
difficulty concentrating
memory problems
unsteady walking that may cause falling
coma (loss of consciousness for a period of time)
slowed or stopped breathing
fast or pounding heartbeat
difficulty breathing
lack of energy
loss of appetite
pain in the upper right part of the stomach
yellowing of the skin or eyes
flu-like symptoms
black and tarry stools
red blood in stools
bloody vomit
vomit that looks like coffee grounds
unusual bleeding or bruising
tiny red spots directly under the skin

SAVELLA (Milnacipran) may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while you are taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration by phone [1-800-332-1088].

What all those symptoms above are indicating are severe problems with brain function, heart function, stomach and GI function, liver function and internal bleeding. Want to risk it?


tinklover - May 12

No haven't been on any antidepressants in the last two years.... I have NOT started the Savella.


January - May 13

You might be interested in googling "Making a Killing Documentary." Pick the one about psychotropic drugs. I've only seen part of it - and it's interesting. There is some controversy about "who" put it out - but I was taught to get info from many different sources and figure it out for myself if I believed the information or not.

I'd suggest that if you feel horrible, treat your severe symptoms with drugs that have been on the market a while (research them and pick the ones with the fewest side effects). Pick drugs that target your specific symptoms - like for anxiety, take an anti-anxiety med; for pain, take a pain med. And, as you're sensitive, take drugs that you can split up and take in low doses, rather than time release formulas which are harder to control.

I believe that if you take something like Savella, you can severely damage your stomach if you take a pain reliever like Advil or Alleve. (I took Cymbalta long enough to get really sick from it, and since then my stomach can't tolerate even a tiny dose of children's liquid Advil - never had a problem before!)

There are some people who say they are doing well on Savella - so you might want to research that - but I would try to check in with people who have been taking it for a while. It's fairly new on the market, from what I understand. Sometimes the bad effects take a while to show up.

Good luck to you, and hope you find something that will help you out. Sounds like anxiety might be the main symptom to treat?


Pikespeak - May 13

Hi! Xanax can cause some of those symptoms! I weaned myself off of it once I realized what the withdrawl felt like! As for Savella, I have been on a low dose for 3 weeks (25mg X 2 daily). Very few side effects: constipation and slight flushing. Way better than Lyrica! I may need a higher dose to cut the muscle pain at 5-6 a.m. You may want to do biofeedback or meditation for your anxiety. I also find that easy stretching and walking daily really helps to lessen FMS. Hope this helps!


January - May 13

I did some online checking, and pikespeak is right, Xanax can cause some of these side effects. Tinklover, don't know if you have been taking Xanax, but below is a comment I lifted from psychiatrist blogspot. Xanax is a "newer" drug - and severely addictive. The comment below explains why. If you suffer from severe anxiety and muscle pain, why not try an older, long-acting drug like valium - and cut it up so you can take the smallest possible dose? Or see if Ativan helps you? I have heard from others that Xanax was a nasty drug. (I read that .5mg of Xanax is like taking 10 mg of Valium (a BIG dose!) - and that it wears off in 3 hours!) The comment below explains why Xanax should NOT be used for every day control of anxiety. If you have been taking it, you might need to re-evaluate with your doctor and find something better for your body. Wishing you well.

"The half-life for Xanax is short... on the order of 6-20 hours. Halcion is the only similar sedative that has a shorter half-life (and that one has even more problems). Thus, it doesn't stick around long. It is also quite lipophilic, meaning that it quickly gets into the brain. So, it has a quick on, quick off way of working. Sounds great, right?

The quicker a drug works, especially one which makes you feel good in some way, the more addicting it is, as the cause (taking it) and effect (feeling it) are close in time, making it very reinforcing. This is fine if you just take it on those rare anxious moments where you need something to get through it. However, since it works so quickly, many folks start taking it more and more often, until it gets to the point that they are taking it daily. Then they start taking it as soon as they feel it wear off. Before you know it, you are taking it 3-4 times per day. Now, that's not the big problem.

The big problem is all because of your brain's laziness. See, your brain makes it's own natural Xanax-like substance, called GABA. GABA works by inhibiting the brain's natural tendency to speed up. It's like a brake pedal, where the accelerator is stuck in the pedal-to-the-metal mode. GABA keeps your brain from over-working. Xanax (and other sedatives, and alcohol) works by acting like GABA in the brain (sort of). If you start taking it daily, your brain starts thinking "I guess I don't need to make so much GABA because this Xanax stuff is here, so I'll only make 20% of what I usually make." It takes a week or more for your brain to stop making the GABA (which is why just a few days on Xanax won't lead to much trouble), and a week or more for it to start making it again when you stop taking the Xanax.

Here's where the trouble begins. If Xanax wears off in just a few hours, but it takes a week for your brain's natural Xanax to kick back in, what happens in the interim? Withdrawal. What does that feel like? It feels like a panic attack, but worse. High blood pressure, rapid heart beat, tremors, confusion, delirium, hallucinations, seizures. What do folks do when they feel a panic attack coming on? Take another Xanax.

As a hospital-based physician, I see lots of folks, often older, who wind up with severe withdrawal problems from Xanax. It's usually because they run out of the drug, decide to cut back or stop taking it, or something else happens (eg, stroke, get sick) and they forget to take it. Or they don't tell their surgeon they are on it, and 2 days after their hip surgery I get called because they are hallucinating.

Some prescribers think it is a good antidepressant (it's not). Or that, because of the short half-life, it's not as addictive (it is).

So, here are my rules of thumb about Xanax:
Avoid it.
Keep the doses small.
Do not use in older folks or forgetful folks (more likely to forget it, thus more likely to have problems).
Do not use in anyone with a history of alcoholism or addiction (yes, that means you have to ask).
Tell folks to avoid from daily use.
If they are on it, warn them that stopping it suddenly, even for a day or two, can result in confusion, hallucinations, seizures, and even death."


sinkbee - May 14

i havent been "officially" diagnosed either. been dealing with most of your symptoms for a year.anxiety,chest pain, have the same stabbing pains in the chest,i ended up in the emergency room twice this year.many tests later,nothing unusual.i am very sensitive to meds as well. am only taking.5 mil of buspar for anxiety (ridiculously low dose)but i'm scared of meds. Dr. says chest pain is costochondritis, imflammation of cartilage where ribs connect to breastbone.i'm always scared when the pain starts, this a heart attack? then pain will start up somewhere else. arms, back,etc.. Dr. prescribed neurontin but i haven't started it yet. this thing is driving me crazy. i think people think im a hypochondriac,before a year ago.. no pain,no major problems. exercise has helped me though.


January - May 14

Hi sinkbee -- did anyone tell you not to drink grapefruit juice while you are taking Buspar?? Just wondering… it's listed online under things you should know!

Did something happen a year ago - or before - to set off your symptoms?


lucky13 - May 14

xanax is very additive, my mother in law has those issues with it.
If in fact you do have Fibro, then it is so worth a try with the Savella, it has been used for many years in Europe, and sometimes antidepressants can help ease anxiety. Paxil worked well for my anxiety a few years ago.

Fibro is something you have to learn to live with and you won't be able to make it's symptoms go completly away, but taking Savella can help, finding a way to get sleep can help and exercise can help, I'd suggest yoga, the stretching and relaxation techniques or aqua exercise in a warm pool.
You have to find creative ways to ease your pain, for body aches try heat therapy or icy hot, for headaches try a cold compress over the eyes, for your fatigue I would suggest getting your iron checked, not only do I have Fibro which gives me fatigue, but I am anemic also so the two combined makes it hard for me to crawl out of bed.
As far as pain meds, Trimodal is what I was prescribed yesterday. Meds scare me but according to the DR this is not addictive, I haven't tried it yet, I want to do my own research before hand.
Tylenol works fine for OTC but it can damage your liver with a lot of use so be careful. Tylenol Arthritis has stronger mg, so that's what I use when I have to take it.
If what your doing is not working, then you need to change what your doing, if your Dr is not supportive then you may need to find a new Dr.

Good luck


sinkbee - May 15

i didn't know about the grapefruit juice..thanks. i had gallbladder surgery in november 09,then in march 2010 my fibro symptoms started. i was also under stress because of my mothers recent breast cancer diagnosis.can stress or surgery set off fibro?


Fantod - May 15

sinkbee - Wecome to the board! Yes, stress, surgery or an accident can set off Fibromyalgia (FMS) is some people. The mechanism that causes it is not understood. There is no cure but it can be managed with certain classes of prescribed medication.

Costochondritis is a very common complaint among people with FMS.

Taking OTC medication is pointless when dealing with Fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, only certain classes of prescribed medication work for the type of pain associated with it.

You need to get your medical records together and find a fibro-friendly rheumotologist and get a definitive diagnosis. Apparently your doctor is not willing to commit or is one of the medical profession that doesn't believe that FMS exists. Your immune system is on overdrive trying to deal with all of your health issues. Call or go online to your local hospital website and find the physician referral service. See if they can match you up with a rheumy that has an interest in FMS.

If not, go online to the National Fibromyalgia Association website and see a list of doctors in your state. The longer a chronic pain cycle continues, the harder it is to stop or manage. You are not a hypochondriac, lazy or neurotic. Something is wrong and you need to get to the bottom of it.

Take care and let us know how you are doing.


Fantod - May 15

tinklover - Welcome to the board!

You are wasting your money and probably adversely affecting your stomach and liver using OTC medication to combat pain which is probably caused by Fibromyalgia (FMS).

Unfortunately, only certain classes of prescribed medications work for the type of pain caused by FMS. They are: Savella, Cymbalta and Lyrica. Savella is usually given in a pack that requires you to step up the dose gradually. You could try it and should know pretty quickly if it is not for you. I am also super sensitive to medication and used Savella for three days before taking myself off it. It made me hysterical which the pharmaceutical company described as an "adverse reaction" - duh.

On the other hand, I use a low dose (30 mg) of Cymbalta and have no problems. My doctor tried to increase the dose which I could not tolerate. It is all a matter of trial and error. Cymbalta does help even in the low dose and I supplement with some homeopathic remedies as well.

If your doctor does not want to commit to a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia than you need to find someone who will get to the bottom of your health issues. The longer a chronic pain cycle continues, the harder it becomes to manage or stop. Your immune system is on overdrive trying to combat all of the problems that you have described.

You need to get your medical records together and find a fibro-friendly rheumotologist. Call or go online to your local hospital website and find the physician referral service. See if they can match you up with a rheumy that has an interest in FMS.

If not, go online to the National Fibromyalgia Association website and see a list of doctors in your state.

Good luck and take care.


January - May 15

Tinklover and Sinkbee - hope you will read the new thread on here "myofascial trigger points." Pikespeak has found a really excellent website - there are charts there that might help you identify a trigger point source for your costochondritis. Trigger points can be treated, with lidocaine injections and massage, but they have to be located first. The big trigger points in my back were well treated, and are gone now, as is the back pain THEY were causing. (I have other problems now.)

As for pain meds - I think fibro is so different in people. The "party line" is that only the 3 FDA-approved drugs work. (But it's the drug companies who are hyping this, in my opinion.) I have fibro, but Advil helped my pain for years. Cymbalta made me crazy and sick, and didn't help my pain. A lot of us have co-existing problems like arthritis, back injuries or tight muscles, or other painful diseases. Gluten free diet (for celiac disease) greatly relieved the generalized flu-like aching that I considered "fibromyalgia pain." So I guess the trick is figuring out what the true source of your pain is (and you may have multiple sources) and then finding a treatment that works for you. As Fantod says, the longer you let a pain cycle continue, the worse it gets - so it's important to get a handle on it asap.

The anticonvulsants like Neurontin and Lyrica are supposedly for nerve pain - like what you get with diabetic neuropathy or shingles or crush injuries. They work on the GABA in your brain, and come with side effects - so I'd experiment with OTC drugs and see if they work. If they don't, then you know you need prescription help. Also, the OTCs have side effects, so you don't want to be taking too much of them. NSAIDs are bad for your heart and kidneys. Tylenol is bad for your liver, even in small doses. We all have to figure out what we can tolerate to get the best relief.

And YES, it is true that physical and emotional trauma can aggravate fibromyalgia. Stress is not good for anybody - but for us, it seems worse. We seem to be more sensitive, physically and emotionally. So we need to take extra care of ourselves, sleep, nutrition, rest. I find it interesting when I read this forum, how many of us really have been/still are super hard workers, care-takers, over-achievers - and then just burned out and got so sick that we have to slow down and pay attention to ourselves! If your mom is seriously ill, of course you are feeling anxious! I hope she is holding up alright. Don't let anybody bully you and call you a "hypochondriac," please. You have a lot going on so take care!

Hope you find something soon that helps you with your pain! Like Fantod says, low dose works for her. I keep my meds low dose too. Doctors will often try to increase your dosages because they go by the "standard recommended" - we tend to have over-sensitive fibro bodies - so make sure you advocate for yourself and say "no thank you" if you don't NEED the higher dose.


sinkbee - May 19

to fantoid and january, thanks for the advice! it's reassuring to know there's other people out there who really understand me. i appreciate it! take care.



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