Every day I read post after post on social media from people seeking information on medications for Fibro. There are a number of medications that are regularly prescribed by doctors, including primary care, psychiatrists and rheumatologists, that target some of the most debilitating fibro symptoms. We see many of these medications thrown around in conversations on Facebook groups: Gabapentin, Pregabalin, Lyrica, Tramadol, Amitriptiline, Cymbalta, etc. Some of these are specifically targeting nerve pain, others general pain, some address depression and anxiety as well. While some people with Fibro get relief from these medications, at least for a while, there are some common issues that you should be aware of:
- Most of these meds are known to cause extreme weight gain in many cases. This is anecdotal, but is reported so commonly that it should not be overlooked.
- Many of these medications cause a range of undesirable side effects, in addition to weight gain.
- The most common complaint among users is that the medications stopped working after a period of time, even when well-tolerated.
- Some of these, especially SNRIs like Cymbalta, are very difficult to wean off of.
Now, I am not anti-medications. If you find something that helps you, and you can live with the side effects, great! My goal is to help and support everyone to live a full and satisfying life, and if medication helps you toward that goal, I’m all for it. However, I don’t think it should be the first stop in the treatment of Fibro. Nor should it be the only stop. Unfortunately, that is often what happens in treatment. For many physicians, medications are the only tool in their toolbox. That does not mean you should toss your doctor aside, it means you need to a) have alternative practitioners on your team and b) educate your doctor about alternative forms of treatment.
I look forward to the day medicine has something better to offer us. In the meantime, see my videos on meditation, exercise, acupuncture, CBT and other alternatives.