Is Cymbalta for fibromyalgia effective?

cymbalta for fibromyalgia

Image: Eli Lilly

Living with fibromyalgia is like living a nightmare. And since no one is sure what causes it, treating fibro has been very difficult. One of the features that makes it so hard to understand is due to how varied the symptoms are. To add to the confusion, no two fibro patients have the same experience. Sure, there are generic symptoms that most of us deal with, but the severity, combinations, and triggers are across the board. The key symptoms we are most familiar with are chronic pain, chronic fatigue, sleep problems, memory issues, mood disorders like anxiety and depression, and so on. Thus, treating fibromyalgia can be downright baffling at times. There are certain options, however, that allow you to treat more than one of your symptoms at a time.

A commonly prescribed form of medication for treating fibromyalgia symptoms is from a family of drugs commonly known as antidepressants. In fact, they are often prescribed for fibro patients even if depression is not a debilitating symptom. These come specifically from a highly effective branch of drugs known as SSNRIs or SNRIs (Selective Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors).

What Do SNRIs do?

SNRIs such as Cymbalta for fibromyalgia act upon chemicals produced by the body called neurotransmitters.  These chemicals normally carry out vital functions within the brain. In this case, it’s a bit easier to understand their importance by looking at the side effects from when neurotransmitters don’t work properly: cognitive impairment, memory loss, anxiety, depression, health problems such as fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain, and many others are the common results. That gives you a little insight into the critical role that neurotransmitters play in your health and overall well-being.

SNRIs aid the brain in the proper processing of neurotransmitters within the brain. Although researchers are not completely certain how it works. Normally, the brain will do this automatically. For people with depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia however, this is not the case. Instead of neurotransmitters carrying out their proper function within the brain, they get broken down and reabsorbed (hence the “reuptake”) into their constituent parts. SNRIs bond to neurotransmitters and force them to remain in the brain until they are properly absorbed. Once absorbed, the brain uses them correctly, and the expected benefits they provide are usually experienced. SNRIs have helped many people with major depressive disorder and anxiety, as well as people diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Is Cymbalta for fibromyalgia Right for You?

Cymbalta (duloxetine) is a specific SNRI shown to be effective for both mood disorders and fibromyalgia sufferers. It is one of the more widely prescribed medications for fibromyalgia patients by healthcare practitioners. Cymbalta for fibromyalgia can minimize many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as musculoskeletal pain, depression, anxiety, brain fog, and more.

Just like any other medication, however, it is important to understand that everyone is different. No two bodies are identical, and so no two people will experience exactly the same results, whether they are positive or negative. Make sure you report any other medications you are taking before your doctor prescribes Cymbalta for fibromyalgia. That includes medications as well as any herbal or health supplements. Sometimes even naturopathic herbs for treating various fibromyalgia symptoms can interact dangerously with prescription medications.

It’s equally important to keep your prescribing physician up to speed on any effects, both good and bad. It is also critical to always follow directions in regards to proper dosages, as some medications don’t necessarily work better at levels past a certain point. Instead, they may become toxic, leading to organ damage or even death.

Cymbalta for fibromyalgia side effects

While Cymbalta for fibromyalgia can be very beneficial to anyone suffering from fibromyalgia, it is important to be aware of potential side effects that may result from its use.  These include but are not limited to:

  • Vision changes
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased sweating


  • Light-headedness
  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Problems urinating
  • Liver problems
  • High serotonin levels (resulting in agitation, hallucinations, diarrhea, loss of coordination, and other problems)
  • Low sodium levels (resulting in headache, confusion, speech difficulties, weakness, and other issues)
  • Major skin reactions (causing blistering, rash, swelling in face or tongue, fever, sore throat)
  • Severe nervous system reactions

Is It Worth It?

I know what you’re thinking: “Having fibromyalgia is bad enough. Why would I want to take something that causes some of the very symptoms I need I to fix?” This is definitely a valid concern. Cymbalta, like other SNRIs, has proven very effective for many fibromyalgia patients. And yet, others can’t take it because it actually does make some symptoms worse. You’ll simply have to do your own research, talk to your doctor, and possibly do a trial run of Cymbalta. Only you can determine what is best for you and your experience with fibromyalgia.

What has been your experience with Cymbalta? Have you found a better medication or alternative therapy that has been more effective for your fibro symptoms? Please share it with us!