Study Finds No Evidence Most Treatments For Fibromyalgia Are Effective

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that results in widespread musculoskeletal pain, discomfort and other issues. However, the findings of a new study suggest that most treatments are not effective in relieving the symptoms.

In a report published this week in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, Brazilian researchers sought to evaluate what fibromyalgia treatments work and concluded that most are not effective in helping reduce pain or improve overall quality of life.

Researchers conducted a systemic review of multiple databases, including MEDLINE, Cochrane, Embase, AMED, PsycInfo, and PEDro, focusing on all published clinical trials that investigated therapies for individuals with fibromyalgia. The review involved a total of 224 studies and nearly 30,000 participants.

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While researchers concluded most therapies were not effective, evidence did support the use of cognitive behavioral therapy to treat short term pain.

Additionally, central nervous system depressants, like Xanax and Valium, and antidepressants were also effective in the short and medium term.

Researchers said the associations were small and did not exceed the minimum clinically important change for pain or quality of life. Patients felt improved pain and quality of life, but not significant changes.

There was no therapy found to be effective for the long term.

“Some therapies may reduce pain and improve quality of life in the short to medium term, although the effect size of the associations might not be clinically important to patients,” wrote study authors.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only three drugs for fibromyalgia. Those drugs include the antidepressants Cymbalta, Savella, and the anti-seizure medication Lyrica. All three were originally developed for other medical conditions and are being repurposed as treatments for fibromyalgia.

While the study concluded the use of antidepressants may help somewhat in the short term, it may not be a viable long-term solution.

A large survey of fibromyalgia patients in 2014 indicated most people who tried the FDA approved drugs did not feel they were effective.

Other therapies have also been proposed as treatments for fibromyalgia including exercise, acupuncture, massage, electrotherapy, myofascial release, and several other non-pharmaceutical treatments.

Some therapies may be associated with small reductions in pain and improvements in quality of life in people with fibromyalgia, but the evidence does not indicate full effectiveness. Most evidence for therapies for managing fibromyalgia is limited to data from small clinical trials and so is not fully examined.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that leads to significant burden to individuals. It is characterized by widespread body pain, fatigue, poor sleep, and depression.

About 5 million Americans have fibromyalgia. Women are the group most often diagnosed, although men and children are also affected.

1 Comments

  • DawnMay 22, 2021 at 5:46 pm

    Hi, myself and three others that lived near an almond orchard in the 70’ and 80’s suffer from Fibromyalgia. They would crop dust and spray pesticides with their tractor. I believe the chemicals used at that time may have been the cause of our fibromyalgia. I would like to see if we have a case. This is in California and the town is Hughson.

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