Fibromyalgia affects about 8-10 million Americans and 2-3% of all people around the world, predominately women.  Fibromyalgia is characterized by diffuse body pain, sleep difficulties and fatigue.  Many other symptoms can accompany Fibromyalgia including irritable bowel, “fibro fog,” headaches and irritable bladder.  Despite the improvements in both research and treatments for Fibromyalgia in recent years, the syndrome remains one of the most complex conditions for medical providers to treat and one of the most difficult conditions for patients to manage.

“narcotic pain medications are not indicated to treat Fibromyalgia.”

  1. Fibromyalgia is a neurologic disease, not a muscle or joint disease.  Even though patients with Fibromyalgia feel the pain in their muscles and joints, the pain originates from the nervous system.
  2. We now understand that Fibromyalgia is related to nervous system abnormalities including abnormal pain processing and impaired autonomic nervous system function during the day and especially at night.
  3. Patients who have sleep disorders related to Fibromyalgia can often fall asleep, but wake up several times per night and have a tough time falling back asleep.
  4. Anxiety and Panic Disorders are much more common than depression in patients with Fibromyalgia. Anxiety and panic may be present in up to 90% of patients with Fibromyalgia, and may be related to the Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction.
  5. Many prescription drugs that are used to treat Fibromyalgia are not approved for treating the disease and may have very little data to support their use.
  6. The only drugs approved to treat the symptoms of Fibromylagia are Lyrica, Cymbalta and Savella. Unfortunately these drugs can cause significant side effects, so discuss the benefits and risks with your physician.
  7. Practitioners almost universally agree that narcotic pain medications are not appropriate for the treatment of Fibromyalgia.  They are not usually very effective, are very addictive, and can worsen irritable bowel symptoms.  NSAIDs, which are often used over the counter and via prescription can be problematic also as they can irritate the stomach making irritable bowel worse.