Do Opioids Help to Relieve Fibromyalgia Pain?

There are so many options out there when it comes to fibromyalgia pain, aren’t there? Whether you’re someone that ascribes to natural medicine or western medicine for your treatment, you’ve probably looked at more treatment options than you care to talk about.

One of the most controversial pain relief options that you may have considered while determining treatment are opioids. Not sure if they’ve come up at all? Let’s take a glance at what they are and how they can help fibro pain.

Do Opioids Help to Relieve Fibromyalgia Pain

What Are Considered Opioids? What Are They Used For?

Opioids are an interesting category of medication, because they are rarely, if ever, used for any long term treatment plan. The main reason for this is because they are highly addictive, so if you end up taking them for too long or under the wrong conditions, you could end up having a lot of issues in the long run.

Tolerance can happen incredibly quickly, especially with medications like morphine, so you will have to eventually take more in order to get the same sort of relief. This is a huge problem, because the chances of overdose become a lot higher at that point.

Many times, we look at opioids as something that people use when they have acute, short term pain. We take morphine after we’ve been in an accident or when we’ve had major surgery. Oxycodone is another big one, which some people will also take in order to deal with severe pain over a shorter period of time. That being said, it’s only been in the past couple of years that people have started to do research for chronic pain, like what you see in fibromyalgia and other related disorders.

The different types of opioids include full agonists, which are drugs that will always be effective, no matter how much that you take. These sorts of drugs include the aforementioned morphine and oxycodone, but this category also includes Fentanyl, codeine, and methadone, among other medications. Partial agonists are a little less effective, specifically because they will eventually stop working once your body has a tolerance for it.

The most common partial s called buprenorphrine, but there are definitely a number of others that are out there as well. Dezocine and pentazocine are called mixed agonists, and those only focus on certain receptors in the brain, making them fairly effective, as long as that’s where the issue is.

Opioids and Fibromyalgia Pain (and Other Symptoms)

How does this all play into fibromyalgia? One of the main ways that fibromyalgia sufferers will get help from their pain using opioids is by going through a type of therapy known as Chronic Opioid Analgesic Therapy, or COAT. COAT is a type of therapy that works by allowing the patient to have a particular type of opioid over a period of time. This works to help the pain receptors to stop firing off like crazy (which is the big issue with fibromyalgia) and it also makes it so that the person can move more easily.

Some doctors may end up prescribing opioids as needed for fibromyalgia patients as well. Of course, the issue there (as opposed to Chronic Opioid Analgesic Therapy) is that it may end up not getting used, or addiction can be more likely because they aren’t being monitored as closely as they would be otherwise.

But, if a person can ensure that they aren’t going to end up with health issues and they are careful with what they’re taking, how much they’re taking, and how often they are taking it, this can end up helping a lot too.

Of course, studies are still going on about this. It hasn’t really been tested for the long term because, frankly, people are a little nervous about doing so. With the high chance for addiction and tolerance, it really is a difficult thing to be able to do these sorts of tests in a way that is safe for those who are being tested. They definitely have and can happen, but they’re over a long period of time (up to 16 weeks/4 months) and every last little change is closely recorded and watched by all the specialists that are involved.

Now, we’re back to the whole controversy thing. There are a lot of issues that come up for people who use opioids. For example, there are the basic side effects that you may see with many medications – vomiting, upset stomach, fatigue, no willingness to eat, vision issues, mood swings, and more. Then, there are the other issues as well.

We mentioned addiction and tolerance several places above, but we’re mentioning it again because it’s a huge part of this whole debate. It likely wouldn’t have been an issue if it wasn’t for that whole thing. Some people are also worried about the withdrawal part of the whole addiction problem as well – withdrawal has killed people who are addicted to certain drugs, so it’s something that needs to be watched.

All that being said, if you’re doing it with the help of your doctor and you’re being honest and watchful about how you’re using the items in question, then you may want to consider going through with a Chronic Opioid Analgesic Therapy or a similar type of opioid treatment plan. Your doctor has a lot of them available for you to think about, and they will guide you through all of the important steps of this process.

So, as you can see, there’s still quite a bit of controversy and discussion out there about whether or not opioids are effective for those fighting off fibromyalgia symptoms, or if they should be left alone because of the potential issues that can happen to those who are fighting off the symptoms of the disorder.

Has your doctor prescribed them for you before, and how did you react to using them? Were they a good decision for you and the needs that you have for your particular case of fibromyalgia.

Further reading:

Fibromyalgia Medication Options:

Are Opioids A Mistake in Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS? (take/the Opioid Effectiveness Survey):

Controversy Around Opioids: