Antidepressants, Antiepileptics, and Other Medications for Fibromyalgia
Medications are typically the first line of treatment for coping with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia medications can help ease fibromyalgia pain and other symptoms, such as depression, fatigue, and muscle spasms.
Before you start any new medication, even if it's an over-the-counter medication, talk to your doctor. Some medications may have harmful side effects, or they may interact with other medications you're currently taking.
In-depth Articles on Other Fibromyalgia Treatments
- Alternative treatments
- How what you eat can help your fibromyalgia: the fibromyalgia diet
- Lifestyle changes
- Physical therapy
- Mental and emotional therapy
FDA-approved Medications for Fibromyalgia
Currently, there are 3 FDA-approved prescription medications for fibromyalgia. They are: duloxetine (Cymbalta), pregabalin (Lyrica), and milnacipran (Savella).
Cymbalta and Savella are anti-depressant medications, while Lyrica is an anti-epileptic.
Prescription Fibromyalgia Medications
Unfortunately, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. However, many prescription medications can help relieve your symptoms. Before prescribing any medication, your doctor will explain your medication options to you and will work hard to find the best option for you.
Antidepressants: Interestingly enough, antidepressants aren't used exclusively to treat depression. They are sometimes used to help block pain messages from ever reaching your brain, and they can help treat fibromyalgia-related pain.
Anti-depressants can be broken down into 3 categories: serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and tricyclic anti-depressants. Each of these medications works differently.
Examples of SNRIs to treat fibromyalgia include duloxetine (eg, Cymbalta) and milnacipran (eg, Savella)—the 2 FDA-approved anti-depressants mentioned above.
However, there are other anti-depressants that can help treat fibromyalgia. Sertraline hydrochloride (Zoloft) and fluoxetine hydrochloride (Prozac) are examples of SSRIs, and nortriptyline (Pamelor) and amitriptyline hydrochloride (Elavil) are examples of tricyclic antidepressants to treat fibromyalgia.
Antiepileptics: With anti-epileptics—also known as anti-seizures or anti-convulsants—pain message s aren't transmitted as well because these medications work to slow down nerve signals that are going to your brain.
As mentioned above, Lyrica is an anti-epileptic used to treat fibromyalgia, but gabapentin (Neurotontin) is another anti-epileptic that can help relieve fibromyalgia symptoms.
Benzodiazepines: These medications help relax tight muscles and improve your chances of deep sleep by working to slow down your central nervous system. They're often prescribed to relieve anxiety, nervousness, and tension caused by stress. Valium is one example of a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines can be highly addictive, so use them only under your doctor's supervision.
Muscle relaxants: Muscle relaxants can help relax very tense muscles and promote good sleeping habits.
One example of a common muscle relaxant for fibromyalgia is cyclobenzaprine (eg, Cycloflex and Flexeril).
Non-narcotic analgesics: Medications, such as tramadol (Ultram), are non-narcotic analgesics. Analgesics—also known as painkillers—work to relieve your pain by blocking pain signals going to your brain or interrupting the brain's interpretation of these signals. Non-narcotic analgesics work by helping the brain regulate your perception of pain. They're not as potent as narcotics.
Opioids (sometimes called narcotics): Opioids should be used only if other medications aren't helpful at treating your symptoms. Oxycodone (OxyContin) is an example of an opioid pain reliever.
Over-the-Counter Medications for Fibromyalgia
When used alone, over-the-counter medications aren't as effective at relieving fibromyalgia pain, but they may help reduce pain when used in conjunction with another medication for fibromyalgia.
Remember to check with your doctor about what fibromyalgia medication options are right for you. As always, ask questions if you're unsure of something, such as the specific side effects of medications and whether they'll interact with other medications you're taking.