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Pharmacological Treatment of Fibromyalgia Syndrome

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Abstract

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread pain, stiffness, insomnia, fatigue and distress. Several randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have shown moderate effectiveness of pharmacological therapies for fibromyalgia pain. Evidence from these trials suggests that pharmacological therapy can not only improve pain but also fatigue, function and well-being in patients with fibromyalgia. Duloxetine and milnacipran, two highly selective serotonin-norepinephrine (noradrenaline) reuptake inhibitors, and the α2δ agonist pregabalin have been approved by the US FDA for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms. In general, about half of all treated patients seem to experience a 30% reduction of symptoms, suggesting that many patients with fibromyalgia will require additional therapies. Thus, other forms of treatment, including exercise, cognitive behavioural therapies and self-management strategies, may be necessary to achieve satisfactory treatment outcomes.

Despite promising results of pilot trials, RCTs with dopamine receptor agonists and sodium channel antagonists have so far been disappointing for patients with fibromyalgia. However, new pharmacological approaches for the treatment of fibromyalgia pain and insomnia using sodium oxybate appear to be promising.

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Acknowledgements

The author has been a consultant for Pfizer, Jazz Pharmaceuticals and Eli-Lilly. This work was supported by US National Institutes of Health grants NS38767 and AR053541.

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Staud, R. Pharmacological Treatment of Fibromyalgia Syndrome. Drugs 70, 1–14 (2010). https://doi.org/10.2165/11530950-000000000-00000

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