Medications for Fibromyalgia Pain Relief

Medications for Fibromyalgia Pain Relief

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  • What Is Fibromyalgia?

    What Is Fibromyalgia?

    Fibromyalgia is a complicated condition that appears to change the way the brain perceives pain. It’s characterized by pain in the muscles, bones, tendons, and nerves, and often can be difficult to diagnose and treat.

    Causes of fibromyalgia may include genetics, infections, injury, and psychological distress. Women tend to develop fibromyalgia more often than men do. People with arthritis also seem to be more susceptible to the condition.

    Click through the slideshow to learn about finding relief from fibromyalgia pain.

  • History of Drug Treatment for Fibromyalgia

    History of Drug Treatment for Fibromyalgia

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved a medication specifically for fibromyalgia in 2007. That drug was pregabalin (Lyrica). Then, in 2008, the FDA approved duloxetine (Cymbalta), which is also used to treat depression and anxiety. The third drug to gain FDA approval was milnacipran HCI (Savella), in 2009. Those drugs are still prescribed today and effectively relieve pain in many people with fibromyalgia.


  • Pregabalin (Lyrica)

    Pregabalin (Lyrica)

    The FDA originally approved Lyrica to treat seizures. It also approved the drug as treatment for pain caused by nerve damage from diabetic neuropathy. Lyrica may also help ease pain from shingles.

    Lyrica and other fibromyalgia medications affect brain chemicals. Side effects include:

    • sleepiness
    • dizziness
    • weight gain
    • dry mouth
    •  trouble concentrating 

    Ask your doctor about an alternative drug if you experience those side effects. Few people are allergic to Lyrica.

  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

    Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

    Cymbalta is an antidepressant, but it can also help control pain. Depression sometimes accompanies fibromyalgia, so Cymbalta can treat several symptoms at once. Sleepiness is a common side effect of the drug.

    Patients with depression are warned that they may experience suicidal thoughts while taking Cymbalta. If you have such thoughts, contact your doctor’s office immediately. Other side effects can include nausea and loss of appetite. Cymbalta is also prescribed to patients with diabetic neuropathy.

  • Milnacipran HCI (Savella)

    Milnacipran HCI (Savella)

    Savella is the newest fibromyalgia drug. It was also the first drug created solely to treat fibromyalgia, as Cymbalta and Lyrica were previously approved for other health problems.

    Savella is not prescribed just to ease depression, however it works similarly to antidepressants. Side effects of Savella can include:

    • nausea
    • insomnia
    • heart troubles, such as palpitations and high blood pressure
  • Over-the-Counter Drugs

    Over-the-Counter Drugs

    Some over-the-counter (OTC) drugs may also help provide pain relief from fibromyalgia. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil) can help. Some fibromyalgia patients find relief from acetaminophen (Tylenol).

    However, these drugs treat the pain triggers only, rather than treating the pain from fibromyalgia. That means the benefits may be limited. OTC painkillers may be helpful for fibromyalgia patients who also have arthritis.

  • Other Helpful Therapies

    Other Helpful Therapies

    Other therapies are recommended along with medications to ease pain and help fibromyalgia patients cope with symptoms. These include:

    • psychological counseling
    • exercise that includes gentle stretching
    • relaxation techniques like acupuncture, massage therapy, and yoga

    It’s important to get enough sleep if you have fibromyalgia. Consult with a sleep specialist if you can’t sleep through the night.

  • Keep Fighting

    Keep Fighting

    Finding relief from fibromyalgia pain can be a challenge. It may take a combination of medications and other therapies to help you feel better. The key is to keep working with your doctors to find the right approach.

    Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also one of the best things you can do. If you can decrease stress or learn coping skills, you’ll be able to manage the disease better. Talk with your doctor about support groups in your area.