Fibromyalgia pain can be eased with lidocaine painkiller injection and Lyrica drug, according to research. Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and a heightened sensitivity to pain. Because it does not have a clear-cut cause, fibromyalgia is quite challenging to treat.
The study revealed that injecting lidocaine into peripheral tissues could effectively reduce pain sensitivity.
Lead author Dr. Roland Staud said, “We hypothesized that if pain comes from the peripheral tissues, and we can take this pain away by injecting local anesthetics, then this would be indirect proof of the importance of peripheral tissues for the clinical pain of these individuals. Over-the-counter medications and [narcotic] prescriptions such as opiates aren’t really effective for controlling chronic pain conditions. [But with the new therapy] we are able to explain the pain of chronic patients better and manage it better. We’re making progress but it will take time.”
The study involved 62 women with fibromyalgia. Each woman received four injections: two in certain muscles in their shoulders and two in their buttocks. Some women received lidocaine, whereas others – the control group – received saline solutions.
After the injections, pain stimulations were administered to the subjects. The women in the lidocaine group experienced lesser pain than those in the saline group, but both groups did experience lesser pain.
Michael Robinson, director of the University of Florida Center for Pain Research and Behavioral Health, said, “The best way to treat chronic pain conditions is… [by] looking at emotional, sensory, and tissue damage. We know there are central and peripheral and social and behavioral components to someone saying, ‘Ow, it hurts’.”
Dr. Houman Danesh, director of integrative pain management at Mount Sinai Hospital, commented on the study, “It is interesting to note that the points which were used were acupuncture points, therefore suggesting acupuncture as a possible treatment to help patients with fibromyalgia.”
A pain drug Lyrica may help ease pain experienced in fibromyalgia. Depression and fibromyalgia are thought to go hand in hand, but it was unclear whether a pain drug could ease the symptoms of both conditions. Study author Dr. Lesley Arnold said, “For those people with fibromyalgia who also have depression, which is very common, and who take an antidepressant but still have pain, taking [Lyrica] can reduce the severity of the pain while they continue on their antidepressant. And it appears to be safe and tolerable for most people.”
The researchers evaluated 197 patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The average pain level was scored on a scale from zero to 10. All patients were on antidepressants for clinical depression, and the average age was 50.
The women were randomly assigned to two six-week treatments with a two-week break in-between. Patients either received Lyrica or a placebo for the first six weeks, then switched treatments for the second six weeks.
Average pain score at the start of the study was 6.7. After taking Lyrica, pain scores dropped to 4.84, and for the placebo the score was down to 5.45. Noted side effects were dizziness and drowsiness.
Although Lyrica does not eliminate the pain – 4.84 is still considered high – it does offer some form of relief for fibromyalgia patients.
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