2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Advances in Fibromyalgia

Click here for the original post.

As readers of my book The Triple Whammy Cure know, fibromyalgia is essentially a response by your body to unchecked stress, generally occurring (or returning) when your stress level exceeds the protective effect of your serotonin. You suffer that stress and your muscles tighten up and stay that way, hurting more and more. That’s fibromyalgia

Serotonin is the brain chemical that acts as your factory-installed stress buffer. That women make up 90% of those with fibro is due to their gender-specific low levels of serotonin–just one quarter the levels men have.

Conventional physicians have historically been dismissive of fibro patients, mainly because their tests always come back normal. Having ruled out any “serious disease,” like rheumatoid arthritis, they don’t much like dealing with a patient who complains of feeling chronically unwell but looks fine and shows nothing wrong on tests.

For years, the Rheumatology Department of Northwestern University (not far from my office) provided me with a steady stream of patients after telling women who had obvious fibro that there was no such thing–that it was a catch-all “fad” diagnosis and they needed to see a psychiatrist.

Fortunately, times are changing (even at Northwestern), though not as rapidly as I’d like. Today we’ll discuss prescription medicines for fibro pain and next time I’ll summarize the new nutritional supplement protocols used by integrative physicians like myself. In the third installment, we’ll talk about what you can do on your own.

Lyrica
Lyrica, with a cheery sounding name, was the first medication to receive FDA approval for fibromyalgia pain. Its chemical name is pregabalin and it’s a cousin of a medicine used for epilepsy and chronic pain, called gabapentin (Neurontin).

I never thought much of Neurontin’s effectiveness, so I was skeptical about Lyrica’s claims. However, clinical trials did show effectiveness, and in my own practice I’ve prescribed Lyrica for some patients. The results have been iffy. The reason everyone’s not on Lyrica is because of side effects (mainly drowsiness and mental fuzziness), which increase as you increase the dose.

Some women–many of you are already drug-sensitive–need high doses of Lyrica to feel any effect. Side effects can be avoided by slowly increasing the dose over several weeks, so for those patients with intractable pain, Lyrica might be worth a try.

Cymbalta (and Lexapro)
The antidepressant Cymbalta is about to be FDA-approved for fibromyalgia. Unlike most antidepressants, which boost brain levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, Cymbalta raises levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine. By raising this second neurotransmitter, patients report increased energy and some diminishment of pain. The major side effect is, unfortunately, nausea, and it can be so severe that patients abandon Cymbalta after a few days.

However, nausea can be reduced by taking the drug with food, and it doesn’t occur with everyone. What’s puzzling is that new research is showing that Lexapro, a serotonin-only antidepressant, seems to work just as well as Cymbalta but without the nausea. My own experience with patients confirms this and I’ve been told that Lexapro has filed for fibro-approval with the FDA as well.

Most fibro patients are familiar with the old standards like Flexeril, Skelaxin, Ultram, Ultracet, Ambien, Elavil (amitriptyline), Doxepin, Trazodone, Vicodin, and OxyContin, so I won’t go in to those.

Let me say, however, I’m not thrilled with any of the prescription drugs available for fibromyalgia. Although none is dangerous in terms of life-threatening side effects, patients are often unhappy with nausea, mental fuzziness, dry mouth, constipation, etc. To avoid side effects, very small doses are the order of the day. Dosages that a pharmacist might define as “This dose is too small to do anything,” can, in fact, work wonders for a fibro patient.

So basically, don’t say “no” to prescription medication. A cautious “yes” may work wonders.


Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

Upcoming Workshops

**Pain Relief with Therapy Balls
Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 6 – 7:30 PM
With Yoga and Movement Therapist Renee Zambo, RYT
Course Fee: $65.00
(includes WHC Myofascial Release Kit, $40 value)

Does that same spot in your neck, shoulders, back or hips seem to bother you every day? Do you have joint aches and pains in the hands and feet? Would you like to learn ways to alleviate that pain and tension?

Join us for this workshop if you experience:
• Chronic Pain • Arthritis • Back, Neck, Shoulder or Hip Pain • Muscular Tension • Injuries • Plantar Fasciitis • Scar Tissue • Tension Headaches • And More!

Space is limited and registration is required.
Please register online.
Call the Center for additional information at (773) 296-6700
More>>

Recent Health Tips

  • I Feel So Inflamed!

    And among other symptoms, indeed she was. Julia, a bright 40-something, had written “fatigue,” “pain,” “bad digestion,” and “brain fog” on her WholeHealth Chicago intake paperwork. She’d been ill for years and brought with her two binders full of medical info on herself. The thicker of these contained accumulated medical records, lab tests, imaging studies, and physician summaries. At first glance, it appeared the various Read More

  •  “I’m Really Confused About Sun Exposure”

    Julie was heading for an all-inclusive week in Cancun to loll on a vast expanse of beach, soaking up rays and having someone named Juan bring her endless pina coladas (she planned to get her money’s worth). Sounded pretty nice to me. After months of Chicago overcast/gray, it seemed like a perfect way to put seasonal affective disorder to bed for the winter. Julie was Read More

  • Here’s What You Should Know About Lyme Disease

    In H.G. Wells’s novel (and Steven Spielberg’s movie) War of the Worlds, aliens invade Earth, fully intending to destroy it. Despite our best efforts to defend ourselves, we’re clearly losing until suddenly all the aliens start dying off. Scientists later discover the aliens had no immunity to Earth’s bacteria. The evil aliens were out of their territory and paid the price with their lives. With the Read More

April Sale: 20% off Four Elements Organic Herbals Tea Blends

Celebrate the arrival of spring with 20% off Four Elements Organic Herbals tea blends. Based in central Wisconsin, Four Elements has been dedicated to organic growing for nearly three decades. These herbal tea blends are made with their hand-harvested organic herbs and packaged in oxygen-bleached paper. Purchase now       More Info