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Fibromyalgia Health Center

Treating Fibromyalgia Pain: Medication Options

5 types of medications help ease fibromyalgia symptoms.
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Treating Insomnia From Fibromyalgia continued...

Without deep sleep, the body can't recuperate from the day's stresses. This can overwhelm the body’s systems, creating a great sensitivity to pain.

In some patients with fibromyalgia, there is an underlying cause for insomnia, such as restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea. If it's not clear what's causing the sleep problem, Jones will prescribe one of several medications to help with sleep.

  • A low-dose tricyclic antidepressant (like Amitril) can help improve deep, restorative sleep.
  • A prescription sleep medication like Ambien, Lunesta, Rozerem and Sonata is not addictive in low doses. These are called "short-acting" drugs because they stay active in the body for the shortest amount of time. Each of these drugs works a bit differently. Some help people fall asleep more quickly; others make sure you stay asleep.
  • The anticonvulsant drug Lyrica is also prescribed to treat other symptoms of fibromyalgia such as insomnia and fatigue.
  • In small studies, the narcolepsy drug Xyrem has been reported to help both sleep and pain. Xyrem, a potent medication used to treat narcolepsy and help with daytime sleepiness, helps patients with fibromyalgia get the deep sleep they need.

Cope considers sleep aids to be a last resort. "We can give you medication for sleep, but we have to be careful," she tells WebMD. "We don't want to take over the body's ability to produce neurochemicals -- or it will stop producing them."

Don’t Forget Lifestyle Approaches to Treating Fibromyalgia Pain

Chronic pain is tough to beat, so you need every bit of help you can get.

Exercise boosts the body's natural production of serotonin (the mood-enhancing brain chemical). It also improves blood flow to muscles, releases stress and tightness, improves sleep, all of which helps relieve pain, Cope tells WebMD.

Other lifestyle approaches also help with fibromyalgia. “Stress reduction, relaxation techniques, prayer, yoga, visual imagery -- those help, too,” Cope says. “Try different things. Find what works for you. These things will make a difference."

But complete relief from fibromyalgia pain is not always possible, Cope admits. “If your pain is moderate but you're living a normal life, going to work, we've made progress.”

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Reviewed on November 10, 2010

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