Tag Archives: fibromyalgia and opioid medications

Fibromyalgia – Are opioid medications used to treat fibromyalgia pain?

If you are one who suffers from chronic pain you know too well the debilitating deep down pains we are having to live with. We often make several trips back and forth to the doctor for a prescription to help alleviate even a small fraction of the pain. Often times the use of opioids to help with pain is asked. Most doctors will not prescribe opioids for fibromyalgia pain. Why are opioids not recommended for the treatment of fibromyalgia?

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My doctor actually did have me on an opioid in combination with a medication for nerve pain, however I stopped taking it as I noticed no change to my pain levels while using it. I had a pain specialist explain to me that opioids don’t usually work for fibromyalgia pain when I mentioned I found no change of pain levels while in use. I started to do my own research and soon enough realized opioids are not the best choice for chronic pain management – at least when it comes down to fibromyalgia pain.

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What many of us don’t understand is opioid drugs are made to be used short term. We all know fibromyalgia is not a short term kind of condition. With many medications our body adjusts and begins to build up a tolerance level to the prescribed dose. Once that tolerance level is hit, higher doses are needed for the same effect to take place. Prolonged use of opioid use is associated with significant risk of addiction. Opioids are very addictive medications. The higher the dose, the higher the chance of addiction. I think this is a concern of many doctors – so they try everything possible before prescribing an opioid medication.

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A 2007 study revealed that people with fibromyalgia were found to have reduced binding ability of a receptor in the brain that is the target for opioid painkiller drugs. To simplify the findings – when these medications cannot bind to the receptors in the brain and spinal cord like they should, they cannot alleviate a person’s pain. If this is true, it could be why many people find opioids unsuccessful to treat fibromyalgia. You can read about the study here.

“These findings could explain why opioids are anecdotally thought to be ineffective in people with fibromyalgia,”

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Furthermore, frequent use and using opioids for too long are known to increase pain levels. You are probably thinking how can a medication increase pain when it is being used to decrease pain? This is known as opioid induced hyperalgesia. Read more information on OIH here.

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Sometimes opioids are prescribed for fibromyalgia. Depends on the doctor and circumstances. For myself, I stay away from them as the majority of research findings and reports state opioids are often unsuccessful in treatment for fibromyalgia. I was on a mild opioid – which caused further fatigue as opioids often have a side effect of sedative effects. You may be one of the people who finds pain relieve from these medications. My advice is to weigh your pros and cons when considering opioid medication for fibromyalgia pain.

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