Methods: Using a telephone survey of 434 women who self-reported having and 198 women who denied having fibromyalgia (FM) (aged 18-80 years), we compared women on self-reported number, major types, and effectiveness of currently taken conventional medications and herbs/supplements.
93% of women with FM reported taking at least one medication (1,855 total, 499 types, on average 4.6 per person), compared with 56% of women without FM (269 total, 172 types, 1.4 per person on average).
• Half (n = 217) of the women with FM reported taking antidepressant drugs; more reported selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI)-type with moderate effectiveness than tricyclic amines deemed to have strong effectiveness. Few were taking dual uptake inhibitors or the now approved pregabalin.
• Nearly 30% reported taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), which have weak efficacy evidence.
Less than 8% of controls reported taking either antidepressants or NSAID.
Having FM was associated with these medications plus guaifenesen, anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants, narcotics, other analgesics, and benzodiazepines ["tranquilizers"].
Highest effectiveness scores were for opioid narcotics and guaifenesin.
Forty-three percent of women with FM reported taking at least one herb/supplement compared with 23% of control women. The most common types were: Omega esterified fatty acids, glucosamine, and gingko. No particular type distinguished between the groups. Both groups tended to rate overall effectiveness lower for herbs/supplements than for conventional medications.
• Substantial numbers of women with FM were taking pain medications that often lacked evidence for effectiveness.
• The variety of medications being taken by women with FM compared with women without FM indicates that there are few medications that consistently provide symptom alleviation for this condition.
Source: Journal of Women’s Health, May 2009. PMID: 19445618, by Shaver JL, Wilbur J, Lee H, Robinson FP, Wang E. University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing, Chicago, Illinois, USA. [E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org]