Link between epilepsy drug and fibromyalgia?

It is the sort of thing that you should consider discussing with your GP and with a pain specialist or rheumatologist. ..

Question

Do you know of any relationship between gabapentin and fibromyalgia?

I have recently been told that the drug had been given to patients with fibromyalgia with good results.

Is there any truth in this?

Answer

Gabapentin is a medication initially designed for treating epilepsy.

It works directly on the brain to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures.

However, like a few other medications that act directly on brain tissue (centrally acting) it has been found by some specialists to help reduce and control certain types of pain.

There have been anecdotal reports of its effectiveness in reducing neuralgia or neuralgic pain – the sharp, aching or burning pain triggered by damaged nerves – the biological wires that travel from the spine into the body and limbs.

This is the sort of pain that might occur after an attack of shingles in a particular nerve (post-herpetic neuralgia), or with degeneration of nerve endings in the limbs (neuropathy) as sometimes happens in people suffering the complications of advanced diabetes.

There is no specific reference to its use in chronic rheumatic pain, such as fibromyalgia syndrome.

However, other centrally-acting medications used for neuralgic pain, such as carbamazepine and Amitriptyline, are sometimes used for symptoms related to rheumatism.

So it wouldn’t be a surprise if gabapentin has been tried in that context too.

Decisions about the treatment of fibromyalgia need to be tailored to the individual sufferer.

It is the sort of thing that you should consider discussing with your GP and with a pain specialist or rheumatologist.

They would have some experience of its use and more information.

Yours sincerely

The NetDoctor Medical Team

Are fibromyalgia and polymyalgia rheumatica the same thing?

Similar to fibromyalgia, it causes pain and stiffness in the muscles of the hips, thighs, shoulders and neck, but unlike fibromyalgia it is also ofte…

Question

My mother has recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

When the osteopath discussed her symptoms he mentioned polymyalgia rheumatica.

Are they the same thing and what treatment might be available?

Answer

These conditions are quite separate from one another and require different treatment.

Polymyalgia

Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is highly unlikely in your case, since it is rare anyway and unusual before the age of 50.

Similar to fibromyalgia, it causes pain and stiffness in the muscles of the hips, thighs, shoulders and neck, but unlike fibromyalgia it is also often associated with more serious conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and something called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Morning stiffness is very noticeable making getting out of bed a problem. Weight loss and depression can also occur.

Polymyalgia is treated with steroid medication, which usually brings about an improvement within a few days, and may need to be continued for up to two years.

Fibromyalgia

In fibromyalgia, there is also chronic pain in the muscles and bones throughout the body and lots of tender areas to the touch.

It is much more common with an overall prevalence in the population of about 1 per cent.

Unfortunately, conventional treatment of this condition with pain relievers – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen and antidepressants – is relatively ineffective.

A better way forward is an individualised programme of cardiovascular fitness exercise, which has been shown in recent trials to be much more beneficial.

Contact the Fibromyalgia Association for more details.

Yours sincerely

The NetDoctor Medical Team

 

 

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