Muscle Relaxant May Ease Fibromyalgia Pain
Around five million Americans suffer with fibromyalgia, a disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue. Most are women and the majority suffers with tender and painful points on their neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms and legs. Finally, a new study shows there may be help for those who have the condition. Low doses of the muscle relaxant Cyclobenzaprine, taken at bedtime, has been shown to not only help people with fibromyalgia sleep better and feel less pain – but may also relieve their blues.
Some doctors have already been prescribing Cyclobenzaprine (marketed in higher doses by others as Amrix, Fexmid, and Flexeril) for patients with the disorder, but they’ve been doing it ''off-label.'' This means the medicine, which has been used to ease the pains of rehabilitative physical therapy, hasn’t been approved for specifically for fibromyalgia by the FDA. But thanks to the new study from the University of Toronto, this may change.
Researchers from the university randomly selected 18 fibromyalgia patients to take Cyclobenzaprine. Doses were increased, as needed, up to 4 milligrams a day. Another eighteen patients were given a placebo. Twenty-nine patients completed the eight-week study. At the end, the researchers found that the total sleep time increased from an average of 5.7 hours to 6.4 hours in the treated group and fatigue decreased. Other benefits were also shown for the group given the drug including a reduction in pain, tenderness and depression, all common symptoms of the condition.
Scientists note a larger study is needed to see if the new treatment is better than existing treatments. However, because of this study, a lower dose version of the drug is already being developed specifically to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Speak with your doctor about it.