New drugs, treatment for fibromyalgia sufferers

Using information to gain control of fibromyalgia Photo: wiki commons (public domain)

WASHINGTON, November 5, 2013 - Fibromyalgia sufferes experience pain, fatigue, body temperature flux and other difficulties.

The causes and the symptoms of fibromyalgia (FM) vary widely by individual, and both sufferers and physicians treating them often are unaware of the full spectrum of treatments that offer relief. Some physicians, who remain unaware that FM is a physical disorder and continue to categorize it as psychological, may not be interested in pursuing treatment for patients.

SEE RELATED: Fibromyalgia understood: Sensitive receptors generate excessive pain

There are several new medications and treatments aimed at bringing relief to sufferers. While many sufferers turn to “alternative” medicines for relief, patients should be wary of these options.

In an interview with Oprah, Dr. Mehmet Oz has openly declared Western medicine as being far behind Eastern medicine and reliable, effective alternative medicine. The term ‘alternative’ means not within the protocol of acceptable treatment as defined by the American medical Association (AMA). Many types of alternative medicines are bogus and even dangerous so one must be careful when using alternative treatments for any disorder.

A little known yet highly effective and efficacious  medication is Xyrem. The ‘REM’ in the name of the medication relates to ‘REM,’ as in rapid eye movement, the deepest stage of restorative sleep.

Studies of Xyrem indicate those with FM have a 30-55 percent decrease in pain on the medication and have little difficulty in achieving REM stage sleep. Those fortunate enough to have Xyrem prescribed have found the drug as providing profound relief  and many use the term “lifesaving” to describe its effect.

SEE RELATED: Fibromyalgia pain: Resetting the hypothalamus with diet, sleep, excercise

Xyrem iwas developed for those who experience narcolepsy, an inability to remain awake during the day, and for those experiencing non-narcoleptic excessive daytime sleep, yet is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for FM.

Many FM sufferers have daytime sleep issues so they should qualify for Xyrem, but the FDA is concerned the drug has a street value since the ingredients are  similar to  GHB (Rohypnol-street name-‘roofie’) used as a predator drug for what is known as ‘date rape’.

About 5-7 million people suffer FM, yet FM is so often misdiagnosed, the true figure could easily reach to over 10 million. Despite these numbers, the FDA has chosen to render those afflicted with FM as not worthy of profound treatment due to fear of Xyrem abuse.

E-mails sent to the Washington Times Communities regarding Xyrem praise the medication for changing lives for those with FM.

SEE RELATED: Fixing fibromyalgia pain: Relief found in REM sleep

However, obtaining a Xyrem perscription can be difficult. Some states will not fill an Xyrem prescription unless it comes from s rheumatologist or sleep specialist. This medication has an unusual dosage regime and must be adhered to precisely. This medication only takes days to begin working.

FM responds positively to serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors such as Savella and Cymbalta. Savella is reported to have greater benefit and fewer side effects. The reports are anecdotal but commonplace. Many who take Cymbalta report unwanted weight gain. Those who report Savella as causing nausea take anti-nausea medication or build up to normal doses incrementally as the body and mind adjust.

A drug called Nuvigil is widely prescribed for those with sleep disorders and those who feel chronic fatigue during the hours they are supposed to remain awake. This medication does not assist in providing REM sleep and many with FM who are prescribed Nuvigil also require sleep medication such as Ambien, Lunesta etc; to get proper rest.

These drugs do not help with chronic pain but proper rest does affect the central nervous system in a manner that reduces levels of pain.

Anectodal stories of those who have switched from Nuvigil and sleep medications to Xyrem report positive results.

Gabapentin (Neurontin) is a proven medication for peripheral nerve pain and widely prescribed for FM and diabetes patients. This drug works for about one third of those suffering chronic neuropathic pain and has some effect on complex regional pain syndrome and prevention of migraines.

A host of narcotic analgesics such as Vicodin, Percocet, morphine, oxycontin, Fentanyl, Dilaudid and others are available, and if  pain does not respond well to other treatments, the use of narcotics may be a necessary evil even for long term use. Long term pain requires long term treatment.

If the migraine headaches associated with FM do not respond to conventional treatment, some doctors have been known to suggest to their patients to Google’ DMSO for migraines’ and do some research as an alternative treatment.

An application for FDA approval is pending for a new device called a Thermal Exchange Method that has shown substantial findings and promise for those with FM pain and thermal issues.

The device manipulates the AV shunts described in the research reported by Dr.’s Rice and Albrecht. Testing for efficacy was application of the device for 15 minutes twice daily for four weeks. The device is non-invasive and infuses heat into the circulatory system for whole body treatment.

The study has shown “significant reduction in tender point counts” and overall reduction in FM discomfort.

While this article does not promote, suggest or encourage any specific drug or treatment without consulting a physician, this article does recommend speaking to a physician about these drugs and their usage.

Why go through life in pain, chronically fatigued, little restorative sleep and experiencing thermal discomfort when effective treatment is available?


Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and psychotherapist.





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Paul R. Mountjoy

Paul Mountjoy is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science

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