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Antidepressant Cymbalta Helps Relieve Fibromyalgia Symptoms?

  [ 961 votes ]   [ 4 Comments ] • October 20, 2004

By Elizabeth Querna

Fibromyalgia affects between 3 and 6 percent of the population, mainly women, causing chronic pain all over the body as well as headaches, fatigue, and other complications. It is still not well understood, though studies have linked the disease to abnormal amounts of the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine, which are also associated with depression. Some researchers from the University of Cincinnati and other places wondered if drugs that are used for depression could also help fibromyalgia patients.

What the researchers wanted to know: Does Cymbalta, an antidepressant with the generic name duloxetine, help patients with fibromyalgia? What they did: The researchers recruited about 200 patients from around the country and split them into two equal groups. One group received Cymbalta for 12 weeks, and the other group received a placebo for the same amount of time. Participants completed several questionnaires to measure the amount of pain and discomfort the disease caused them at the beginning of the study, and then at the end of each of the first two weeks and every second week for the remaining 12 weeks of the study. Researchers also tested the participants for depression.

What they found: Women who took Cymbalta had significantly less pain and discomfort than those who took the placebo. For men, who made up only 11 percent of the study, there was no effect from taking the medication compared with a placebo. Depression played no part in whether or not the drug worked to control pain. The change in the level of women's pain was particularly pronounced after a month of taking the drug, then leveled off a bit before dropping again near the end of the study.

What it means to you: Cymbalta could be a good therapy for people suffering from fibromyalgia. Because the disease is not well understood, no one knows the best way to treat it or why certain drugs work and others don't. Other antidepressants, including Prozac, Elavil, and Endep, have also been shown to reduce symptoms of the disease, so those types of drugs may become a standard treatment.

Caveats: In most tests, Cymbalta improved the score of participants. However, in one of the primary measures of pain there was no significant difference between the two groups at the end of the 12-week trial. Also, because the trial lasted only 12 weeks, it is impossible to tell how well the drug would control treatment for a longer period of time. Lastly, the primary researcher on the project has received more than $10,000 in consulting fees from Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Cymbalta, and other researchers also have ties to the company.

Reference: Arnold, L.M. et al. "A Double-Blind, Multicenter Trial Comparing Duloxetine With Placebo in the Treatment of Fibromyalgia Patients With or Without Major Depressive Disorder." Arthritis and Rheumatism. September 2004, Vol. 50, No. 9, pp. 2974–2984. Source: U.S. News & World Report

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Article Comments Post a Comment

it helped me
Posted by: jbarnett
Oct 17, 2007
I take cymbalta on a daily basis, when I was first given the prescription I thought ok, my doctor must think I am a lunatic and thought I must just be depressed, but it really helps me with the manageablility of pain....I told him I wasnt depressed, and he agreed, he said depression is not only a mental status, but a physical one as well, and that my body was depressed (physically). I thought ok kinda makes sense....he was right. I went from 1800mg (plus) daily of Ibuprophen, to just one 60mg pill of cymbalta...will it work forever, who knows. I am just glad to be pain free 90% of the time.
Reply Reply

Cymbalta and FM
Posted by: calhawaiigirl
Apr 7, 2008
I have had FM for at least 20 years. They had a different name for it in the beginning. I can't remember what they gave me at first but in the 90s I took Elavil a lot. It helped me but I hated that hangover affect it gave me. Half the day was gone by the time the drug wore off. I started taking a lot of Acetamenophen and Ibuprophen and ended up with reflux disease. I took Celebrex for years but it didn't really help me. I started taking Cymbalta around January of last year. My pain is at least half of what it was. I can actually function somewhat. However, I am still struggling with chronic fatigue.


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