What are the side effects of pain relievers for fibromyalgia?
Be careful taking aspirin or other NSAIDs if you have stomach problems. These medications can lead to heartburn, nausea or vomiting, stomach ulcers, and stomach bleeding. This risk of serious bleeding is even higher in people over the age of 60. Don't take over-the-counter NSAIDs for more than 10 days without checking with your doctor. Taking them for a prolonged period increases the chance of serious side effects. Aspirin and other NSAIDs can cause or worsen stomach ulcers. If you've had ulcers or any kind of stomach or intestinal bleeding, talk to your doctor before taking NSAIDs.
Acetaminophen is relatively free of side effects. But avoid this medication if you have liver disease. Also, make sure to not take more than recommended as that greatly increases the risk of side effects, including liver damage.
Are muscle relaxants helpful for fibromyalgia pain?
The muscle relaxant cyclobenzaprine has proved useful for the treatment of fibromyalgia. It's often prescribed to help ease muscle tension and improve sleep. Muscle relaxants work in the brain to relax muscles.
With muscle relaxants, you may experience dry mouth, dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, clumsiness, unsteadiness, and change in the color of your urine. These medications may increase the likelihood of seizures. Older adults sometimes experience confusion and hallucinations when taking them.
When are anticonvulsants used for fibromyalgia?
Lyrica, originally used to treat seizures, is a newer drug for treating fibromyalgia. With fibromyalgia, Lyrica affects chemicals in the brain that send pain signals across the nervous system. So it reduces pain and fatigue and improves sleep.
Neurontin (gabapentin) is another antiseizure medication that has also been shown to improve fibromyalgia symptoms.
Are there other fibromyalgia pain medications available?
Pain relievers such as Ultram (tramadol) may also be used to treat fibromyalgia. This narcotic-like medication acts in the brain to affect the sensation of pain. It is not as addictive as narcotics.
In addition, doctors may prescribe benzodiazepines such as Ativan (lorazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Xanax (alprazolam) to help relax painful muscles, improve sleep, and relieve symptoms of restless legs syndrome (unpleasant sensations in the legs that force you to move them constantly). Benzodiazepines are addictive and must be used with caution on a short-term basis. Taking more than recommended increases the risk of serious side effects -- even death.
Powerful narcotic medications, such as Percocet and OxyContin (oxycodone) and Vicodin and Lortab (hydrocodone), should only be considered if all other drugs and alternative therapies have been exhausted and there is no relief.