Few medical conditions are as odd, as misunderstood and as enigmatic as fibromyalgia. The harsh truth is that this condition is quite difficult to treat, that we don’t know what causes it and that we don’t even know how to prevent it. Yet, more than 5 million people in the U.S. live with it through every single day of their lives.
Sometimes, pain can be debilitating and there are many cases when patients have been bedridden for years (in the literal sense of the word). In addition to pain, symptoms such as sensitivity to certain foods, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to certain types of medication, depression, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, fatigue, irritable bladder and bowels, headaches, cognitive issues and so on can appear as symptoms too.
Fibromyalgia: Do We Really Know Anything About It?
No, not really. We don’t know much about this syndrome affecting so many lives. Of course, research is being made and there are important things they have revealed, but up to the moment, not many people out there can say that they actually understand fibromyalgia (in fact, nobody can say this 100% truthfully). We do understand several things about it though:
1- Its symptoms can vary greatly from one person to another. This is one of the main reasons for which the older diagnosis criterion according to which at least 11 tender points out of 18 had to be painful to “qualify” as a fibromyalgia patient.
2- Genetics does play a part in how this syndrome develops, but there is no direct connection established. There are a lot of people who develop fibromyalgia when their parents or their relatives had it too, so there should be a clear connection established at some point.
3- Stress can really make things awful for those with fibromyalgia. In fact, many times it is considered a cause of fibromyalgia and not so much a symptom. Apparently, stressful events such as an accident, the loss of someone you love and so on can be among the main causes for fibromyalgia.
4- It is believed that the neurotransmitters dealing with sending the pain signals to the brain do not function properly in the case of those with fibromyalgia. This is why their brains perceive pain at a much higher intensity than other people’s brains do.
5- Serotonin and a series of other neurotransmitters appear to have an important role to play too.
Neurontin: Is It Truly Efficient?
Neurontin is a drug that was initially created for the treatment of nerve pain and epilepsy. Basically, it works by inhibiting the communication between the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, and this could make it efficient for treating fibromyalgia too.
Neurontin can come under many names (gabapentin being one of them) and it is quite frequently prescribed by doctors to patients with severe pain syndromes. Out of the people who tried the drug, most would say that it works very well and that their symptoms have gotten better ever since they started taking it.
On the efficiency of the drug, there is not much research made. In fact, only one high quality study has been led into this and it proved the drug to be effective in treating fibromyalgia pain, sleep issues and fatigue.
Like with any drug in the world (regardless of what it is meant to treat), you should be aware of the fact that it does have side effects. Some of them include drowsiness, tiredness, blurred vision, tremor, dizziness and even lack of coordination. If you have been prescribed with Neurontin and experience seizures, skin rashes, stomach pain, dark urine, chest pain, high blood pressure, nausea, confusion or any other odd symptom you did not experience before (or are experiencing with higher intensity now), call your doctor immediately.
What Other Fibromyalgia Drugs Are There?
Neurontin has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. In fact, only three drugs are considered by them to be safe and efficient for treating fibromyalgia (even if they cannot really explain how it is that these drugs are effective). These drugs are the following:
Lyrica, which was approved in 2007 (the first one), is a drug initially created to treat seizures, shingles rashes and diabetic nerve pain. Nowadays, it is frequently administered for fibromyalgia patients too. However, be aware of the fact that it too shows side effects such as trouble with concentration, blurry vision, dizziness, weight gain, dry mouth, swelling of the hands and feet and so on.
Cymbalta was the second FDA approved fibromyalgia drug. At its origins, it was created to treat depression, anxiety and nerve pain, but it can work very well for fibromyalgia pain, fatigue and other symptoms too. It also has side effects as well: suicidal thoughts, appetite decrease, excessive sweating, nausea, constipation, sleepiness and so on.
Savella was the very first FDA drug approved for treating fibromyalgia which had been created from the very start specifically for this condition. It is very similar to Cymbalta in nature and it can show almost the same side effects as it: excessive sweating, insomnia, excessive sweating, increased heart rate and so on.
If you believe that you need adjacent natural treatments to alleviate the pain and the other fibromyalgia symptoms you experience, then do make sure that you talk to your doctor about this and that what you have thought of is safe for you. There are several types of natural treatment alternatives which have been proven to be quite efficient with fibromyalgia patients:
- Tai Chi, a Chinese martial art with health benefits as well
- Yoga, which can help with the pain
- Chinese herbal medicine, which can help with the main fibromyalgia symptoms
- Medical marijuana, which is available in 23 states in the United States of America (+ DC) and which has been proven to be efficient in increasing the appetite, treating the pain and many of the other fibromyalgia symptoms too