One of the primary approved drugs for managing the pain associated with fibromyalgia is Cymbalta. The FDA approved this anti-depressant as a pain relief method for the disorder, and in most studies it rates as highly effective for pain management. Cymbalta for fibromyalgia management may be an appropriate course of action for you in building a lifestyle that manages your pain and other symptoms better.
Understanding what fibromyalgia is
Fibromyalgia is not a “woman’s disease” although over 80% of those diagnosed with it are women between the ages of 18 and 65. More men are being diagnosed with it as there is increased recognition of how the cluster of symptoms appears in their gender.
It is a chronic, non-fatal, but potentially debilitating disorder. Common symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, pervasive pain, stiffness, IBS and headaches. Depression is also common with fibromyalgia and an increased level of whole body inflammation.
Who is at risk for it
Anyone can develop fibromyalgia at any age. It is most common in women between the ages of 18 and 64, and it is pervasive among all races and ethnic types. Recent advances in medicine have seen the development of two different tests to detect the presence of fibromyalgia – a blood test and brain scan. These tests may not be 100% accurate especially for those in the early onset of the disorder.
It is thought that there is an issue of heredity involved in the development of the disease, but it is also associated with traumatic brain injury, traumatic illness, and those with disorders of the immune system. While there is not specific known agent of action for the disorder, it is associated with a cluster of symptoms that focus on hormone and brain chemical imbalances that cause the immune system to become dysregulated.
What is Cymbalta
Cymbalta is a drug that is most commonly associated with the treatment of depression. While its exact mechanism of action is not known, it is classified as an SNRI (serotonin norepinephrine receptor inhibitor). It is thought that in inhibiting the receptors between these two important brain chemicals that it also can disrupt the pain receptor and message process. Cymbalta was approved as a pain treatment for fibromyalgia by the FDA in 2008.
It can be used in conjunction with other antidepressants if your depression does not respond to Cymbalta as it is considered more of a pain medication treatment for those with fibromyalgia. It is important to note that because of its designation as a treatment for pain with fibromyalgia that being prescribed Cymbalta does not also imply a diagnosis of depression too.
Who should take it?
Women who are pregnant or nursing should not take Cymbalta. It is also not recommended for the very young, but has proven to be safe with the elderly. If you are suffering from depression it may be a good idea to add this to your repertoire of medications to treat your fibromyalgia pain too. There are no concerns associated with cardiovascular risk with Cymbalta, but some people cannot tolerate the common associated side effects. If you have IBS, Cymbalta may aggravate that condition.
What are the risks?
There are some risks associated with taking Cymbalta and you should talk with your doctor and pharmacist to understand what yours are. It can interact with other medications and cause short term side effects such as dizziness, insomnia, dry mouth and constipation.
There are rare instances of more serious side effects so it should be approached with caution. You should not take Cymbalta if you are already on an anti-depressant, but should talk to your doctor about switching over to Cymbalta to see if it will be effective for treating your depression and pain symptoms.
How can you make symptom management more effective?
The key to making symptom management more effective is to understand that medications and lifestyle changes that are used to relieve pain or other symptoms aren’t meant to eliminate the symptom all together. When treating pain, the goal is not to get to a level of no pain – but to a level of more tolerable pain.
Once you have tolerable pain that is controlled with medication, you can then engage in lifestyle changes that can reduce the pain even further. Medication is not a total solution, but one of the tools used to improve your overall quality of life. If you view your symptom management as a larger puzzle in which you fit your pieces, you will see more effective success with the techniques and medications you try.
Other things to consider
One thing that you should know is that while studies have shown that taking Cymbalta for fibromyalgia pain is effective for almost all people, it is most effective in those who have a developed depression. Science isn’t sure why this antidepressant can be so effective in relieving fibromyalgia pain, but it is known as an effective antidepressant for those whose relationship between their serotonin and norepinephrine levels are out of balance. If you don’t have a problem with depression, Cymbalta will still provide pain relief for you, but not as much as for someone who also has a co-existing diagnosis of depression.
Making sure Cymbalta for fibromyalgia is effective
If you want to make sure that taking Cymbalta for fibromyalgia is effective in relieving your pain you need to also understand how the cluster of symptoms of the disorder is affected by other factors too. The more you understand how diet, lifestyle, and even the weather can affect fibromyalgia symptoms the better able you will be to create a lifestyle that allows you to improve the quality of your life.
No medication can relieve all of the symptoms, and there is no known cure – but there is much you can learn to do to make sure that your symptoms aren’t debilitating to your life. Be proactive, educate yourself and engage with your doctors in a true investigation of all the options known – and that will be discovered in the future to make sure that you can live your life to the fullest.
Cymbalta became the second FDA approved drug for fibromyalgia: http://www.arthritistoday.org/news/cymbalta-approved-fibromyalgia.php
Duloxetine for the treatment of fibromyalgia: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3056054/
Cymbalta for Fibromyalgia Treatment: http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/cymbalta-for-fibromyalgia-treatment