New Meds Show Promise In Relieving Painful Fibromyalgia Symptoms - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

New Meds Show Promise In Relieving Painful Fibromyalgia Symptoms

By Lori Lyle

(LOUISVILLE) -- Imagine living daily with chronic pain, being unable to sleep through the night, and knowing there are no medications designed to treat the condition. It's a reality for many of the six million Americans living with Fibromyalgia. Until now, no drugs have been studied specifically for Fibromyalgia relief, but as Health Alert's Lori Lyle explains, that is changing.

Typically, the most common prescription for Fibromyalgia relief has been strong antidepressant. Many patients can't tolerate the side effects and many more complain they don't work.

However, studies are under way on some new medications that could soon be the prescription so many are seeking.

Dr. Leslie Crofford is one of the nation's top Fibromyalgia researchers.  She says "the possibility that's tantalizingly close that we will have treatments that will be effective early in the course of the disease is just wonderful."

Crofford is a recent addition to the University of Kentucky School of Medicine and just published a study in Arthritis and Rheumatism Journal. The study involved the drug Lyrica and 529 Fibromyalgia patients.

Crofford says because Lyrica isn't an antidepressant, it controls pain in a different way saying. "I think it provides us with options that are desperately needed for patients that can't tolerate antidepressant type drugs." 

She adds: "the fact that it works by different mechanisms give us a lot of different choices we didn't have before." 

Possibly controlling pain for those that don't get pain relief with anti-depressants.

Forty-two-year old Kimberly Lawson was just diagnosed with Fibromyalgia last fall, even though she says she's suffered symptoms over 20 years. "The pain -- it's not like anything I've ever experienced. It feels really deep, all the way deep to the bone. It aches. It burns. It's constant."

Even though Lawson finally has a diagnosis, she says the knowledge offers little comfort because now she's dealing with "just the fear of having something that has no medications and it's chronic pain. I'm a fairly young person and no one wants to live the rest of their life in chronic pain."

Like many diagnosed, Lawson is taking one of the newer antidepressants, Cymbalta, but it's not working, and the pain is affecting her life. She says this past Easter, "my mother colored eggs [with my 7 year old son]. I couldn't do something that simple."

The drug in Crofford's study report is already approved by the FDA for pain caused by shingles and diabetic neuropathy. But in an 8-week study involving Fibromyalgia patients, Crofford says "I think it holds a lot of promise" for Fibromyalgia too.

In the study, over 50 percent of patients taking the actual drug reported a 30 percent reduction in pain, and 29 percent reported over a 50 percent reduction in pain.

And Crofford says patients also reported an improvement in sleep, suffered less fatigue, and noticed improved cognitive performance.

The hope, Crofford says, is that early diagnosis combined with appropriate treatment will prevent long-term use of prescription drugs. And she says getting a specific medication approved for Fibromyalgia will help make that happen "so that primary care physicians can make the diagnosis and institute treatment early, rather than having people go doctor to doctor everybody telling them, 'oh, your blood tests and X-rays are normal, you can't be sick."

Crofford is optimistic about the latest treatment options, saying research shows that "patients with fibro, when given an effective drug, will improve."

Kimberly is thrilled to have Dr. Crofford here in Kentucky. "I've got a lot of hope," she says, "and I've pinned a lot of hope on Dr. Crofford."

The next study of the drug Lyrica on Fibromyalgia patients will be much larger and longer. It should start sometime this summer.

For more information on Fibromyalgia and Dr. Leslie Crofford you can call the new UK HealthCare Ky. Women's Health Registry 1-800-929-2320 or visit their website at www.mc.uky.edu/kyhealthregistry.

Online Reporter: Lori Lyle

Online Producer: Michael Dever

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