Fibromyalgia – New Therapy Offers Hope
Fibromyalgia is a chronic muscle pain disorder that has no underlying identifiable cause. Sufferers have muscle pain, multiple areas of tenderness and fatigue. It is a poorly understood disorder, with many physicians not even acknowledging that it is a real illness. There is , however ample evidence that fibromyalgia is a real condition as it has been estimated that as many as 6 million Americans suffer from this affliction annually. Patients typically see several physicians and become frustrated when all their testing comes back normal. Other accompanying symptoms may include poor sleep hygiene, headache, mental clouding (fibromyalgia fog) and depression. Although this conditions rarely clears, suffers can be treated successfully with a combination of medications and regular exercise.
The FDA has recently approved Lyrica as the first drug specifically for fibromyalgia treatment. Lyrica (pregabalin) was originally approved for treatment of seizures and painful diabetic neuropathy. Based on two large, double-blind studies with 1,800 patients enrolled, the FDA approved labeling for Lyrica to be used in the non-narcotic control of fibromyalgia pain. The exact mechanism by which Lyrica controls the pain of fibromyalgia is not well understood. I have used this drug extensively in my practice to help individuals with fibromyalgia, who have failed other therapies. With FDA approval, more insurance companies will be compelled to cover this otherwise costly medication.
Other medications have been used to help patients with fibromyalgia. Medications in the tricyclic antidepressant family such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline and trazodone have been used with varying degrees of success. Some anti-inflammatory medication may be helpful as well. In combination with medications, it is important for patients with fibromyalgia to get some type of regular exercise that involves muscle resistance. The combination of medications and exercise provide the best hope for controlling the symptoms of fibromyalgia as there is no definitive cure. Mayo Clinic published an excellent summary of fibromyalgia. If you feel that you have this condition, find a neurologist or rheumatologist in your area that has knowledge in treating this condition.