Fibromyalgia is an incredibly difficult condition to treat. Most people with fibromyalgia go through a great ordeal trying to get both diagnosis and treatment. Finding the right medication can be a challenge as well because there are so many possible options. Here’s a list of some of the most commonly prescribed medications for fibromyalgia and which are most often effective.
Fibromyalgia Medication List
Lyrica is the brand name of the drug pregabalin. It was the first drug ever approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating fibromyalgia. Lyrica works by blocking calcium channels in the body. This means it is also sometimes useful in treating epilepsy. When Lyrica is effective in treating fibromyalgia, it reduces pain, alleviates anxiety, and can make you feel calm and relaxed.
However, like most medications, it also has potential negative side effects. The most common side effects of Lyrica include the following:
- Increased hunger and weight gain
- Vision changes
As the first medication specifically approved for treating fibromyalgia, this is often the first treatment that may be prescribed for you.
Savella is the brand name of the drug milnacipran. It is an FDA-approved fibromyalgia medication. Savella is in the class of drugs called selective serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, or SNRI. This class of medication is often prescribed as an antidepressant, but that does not imply that fibromyalgia and depression have similar causes. When Savella is working well to treat fibromyalgia, it reduces body aches and pain and decreases muscle tension.
The potential negative side effects of Savella include the following:
- Increased sweating
- Higher blood pressure
Many of these side effects will go away or decrease after a few weeks as your body gets adjusted to the medication.
Cymbalta is the brand name of the drug duloxetine. It is also approved for treating fibromyalgia and is in the SNRI class of medications. It is supposed to be very effective in reducing nerve pain and overall physical body aches. As an antidepressant, it may also provide a boost to your mood and improve depression which is common in fibromyalgia.
Negative side effects of Cymbalta can include the following:
- Decreased libido
- Increased sweating
These side effects may go away or become less as your body adjusts to the medicine. However, for both Cymbalta and Savella, like other SNRI medications, it’s very important to take the drug at approximately the same time every day. These medications can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, such as “brain zaps,” even an hour or two after a missed dose.
Neurontin, the brand name of the drug gabapentin, is often prescribed for fibromyalgia. However, this particular usage of the medication is not FDA-approved and is therefore considered “off label.” Neurontin is actually in the anticonvulsant class of drugs more commonly prescribed for treating epilepsy.
Neurontin is being subject to restricted access in some states, as it has come under scrutiny because of the possibility of dependence. If it is still accessible in your state, expect that your doctor may use closer monitoring if prescribing the drug. Neurontin can cause lightheaded feelings or even a mild “high” feeling. However, it is known to reduce neuropathic pain and physical body aches.
Negative side effects of Neurontin may include the following:
- Weight gain
Many people with fibromyalgia also suffer from frequent headaches, and they may find that Neurontin is beneficial for that purpose. This drug is often prescribed off label for treating frequent migraines.
Ultram is the brand name of the drug tramadol. This is another drug commonly prescribed for fibromyalgia. Like Neurontin, Ultram is prescribed off label and is not FDA-approved for treating fibromyalgia. Although it is not approved for treating fibromyalgia, studies did find that it may be effective as a second-line treatment.
Ultram is an atypical pain reliever. It is believed to have similar effects to an opioid medication, although seems to have less potential for addiction. It is also an SNRI medication, but it binds to the opioid receptors in the body and provides relief of moderate to severe pain.
Side effects of Ultram can include nausea, dizziness, and drowsiness.
These are the five most commonly prescribed medications for treating fibromyalgia. However, talk to your doctor about all of your options. If these medications don’t work for you, other drugs may be prescribed off label and may be effective.