Prescribed Medications for Fibromyalgia
Treating fibromyalgia is a difficult thing because there are so many symptoms that have to be addressed. Prescribed medications are an important part of the treatment protocol for FMS and although there have been many trials and studies done on the efficacy of certain drugs for FMS, there are no drugs specifically for the syndrome yet. Virtually all of the medications used to treat fibromyalgia are designed for other diseases or conditions – however, they do work and they are used, often through off-label prescription.
Categories of Prescribed Medication for FMS
Prescribed medications can be invaluable for pain relief, improving moods, better sleep quality, and increased energy. Since people with fibromyalgia tend to be quite sensitive to drugs and experience side-effects from them more intensely, the dosage will have to be adjusted to the individual to avoid over-reaction. There are several categories of drugs used to treat FMS and they fall under the following headings:
· Anti-inflammatory medicines
· Antidepressant medicines
· Muscle relaxants
· Sleep modifiers
· Anti-anxiety medicines
· Medicines for chronic pain
Prescribed Medication for FMS – Analgesics, Pain Killers
Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines like aspirin and acetaminophen, or prescription drugs like codeine, oxycodone, morphine and fentanyl, are analgesics, or pain killers. They function to take the edge off pain by blocking the central pain pathways. Opioids have potential side effects that include drowsiness, difficulties concentrating, and addiction. If the pain in a person is very severe, narcotics may be prescribed. People with FMS can experience nausea or an allergic reaction to codeine.
Prescribed Medication for FMS – NSAIDs
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, naproxyn, nabumatone and Cox-ll inhibitors as well as aspirin and corticosteroids are all forms of anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications. Some are available OTC and others are prescription only. FMS is not an inflammatory condition so these drugs may not do much for it. However, they can reduce the pain of a flare-up that may be associated with too much physical activity or overuse injury.
Prescribed Medications for FMS – Antidepressants and Muscle Relaxants
Tricyclics, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and the selective serotonin and norepinephrine dual reuptake inhibitor, Cymbalta are all antidepressant medications. They can be used to treat pain, improve sleep and improve mood disturbances common to FMS. Tricyclic medications are effects but have side effects of dry mouth and drowsiness.
Muscle relaxants do not necessarily cause the muscles to relax in FMS, but they do help to reduce pain in the muscles. The most common side effect is drowsiness so it is best to take muscle relaxants at night, before bed. Another type of medication that has been proven effective in the treatment of muscle spasms are those categorized as antispastic. They are intended for people who experience involuntary muscle spasms as a result of neurologic conditions such as multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. They are helpful for people with FMS.
A number of different medications are effective for the treatment of insomnia, even though they are not considered sleep modifiers. Muscle relaxants and antidepressants often have side effects of drowsiness and analgesics knock the pain out so sleep is easier to attain. Actual sleep modifiers do improve deep sleep, they work short-term (through the night) and the newer ones are not habit forming.
Anxiety contributes to muscle pain and tension as well as irritability in people with FMS. Antidepressants and muscle relaxants treat anxiety and many of them cause sedation which can improve sleep. Benzodiazepines are commonly used and can help in reducing pain as well as improving sleep as they reduce anxiety.
Prescription Medications for FMS – Anticonvulsants and Other Types of Medications
Medications that have been used to treat seizure disorders, called anticonvulsant medicines, have been found to be very useful in the treatment of neuropathic pain that is so common to FMS. Burning or electric shock feelings are improved with the use of anticonvulsants. Lyrica is a commonly prescribed member of this group that has been beneficial to fibro sufferers and is often prescribed.
Various other types of medicines can be used to treat symptoms of fibromyalgia. Headaches are frequent with FMS and drugs like beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and ergot alkaloids are all effective. One drug that has recently been used with benefit is guaifenesin, a mucus dissolving substance used to reduce congestion. Reduced muscle pain has been seen with the use of this drug. Cough suppressants also help with FMS pain.
Developing a Plan of Prescription Medications to Treat FMS
By working together with the doctor and therapists, it is possible to develop a treatment strategy that works individually. Not all drugs are good for all people. Some individuals have very adverse reactions while others can take them without a problem. By working together with the medical professionals to develop a system that works, a person with FMS can create the balance needed to manage the symptoms of FMS in their own life.
There are several new drugs on the market that are being used for the treatment of FMS. Read about them in this article.