Traditional Medicine Offers Little for Fibromyalgia

Pills and capsulesWith so many different symptoms, it’s no surprise that fibromyalgia and CFS patients are typically taking 6–12 different prescription drugs. Lyrica, Elavil, Klonopin, Paxil, Effexor, Xanax, Trazadone, Neurontin, Zanaflex, Ambien, Lunesta, Cymbalta, and Provigil have all been heralded as “the drug” for fibromyalgia.

Some of these are helpful, some worthless, and some really dangerous.

Drug management alone typically fails to yield lasting relief from the most common fibromyalgia and CFS symptoms, and patients’ and doctors’ optimism over a new drug treatment eventually gives way to this sad reality. Oh well, a new drug with an even larger marketing budget is on the horizon. (Forgive my cynicism. I’ve just seen this situation so many times!)

Many of the most commonly prescribed drugs for fibromyalgia have side effects that are similar or identical to the symptoms of FMS and CFS. These similarities can cause a lot of confusion when doctors are trying to determine the effectiveness of treatment. Ambien, for instance, can cause flu-like symptoms, achy muscle pain, sore throat, and fatigue. Sounds like CFS, doesn’t it?

Tranquilizers are often prescribed for restless leg syndrome; achy, tight muscles; and sleep problems. But these drugs deplete the sleep hormone melatonin, which then leads to a disruption of a person’s circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle). Instead of promoting deep restorative sleep, these drugs prevent it!

It’s important to realize that your drug or drugs may be causing or contributing to some or all of your symptoms.

I spend a great deal of time with my new patients reviewing and discussing their current drugs—how they interact with each other, and the potential side effects. I often find that by asking the right question, I can help the patient realize that her symptoms began or worsened soon after the drug treatment began.

Sometimes, though, I do find drug-induced symptoms that began months after the start of the drug treatment. Drugs deplete essential nutrients that the body needs to properly function, but it can take weeks, months, or even years for the drug to fully deplete the nutrient and for you to see the side effects surface.

still taking medicationStill, not everyone can be drug free, and most of my patients are on at least one prescription medication. But the least offensive drug should be used—sparingly—and only to manage symptoms unresponsive to more natural therapies.

A study conducted by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research demonstrates the need the limitations of traditional medicine alone for treating fibromyalgia.

Thirty-nine patients with FMS were interviewed about their symptoms. Twenty-nine were interviewed again 10 years later. Of these 29 (mean age 55 at second interview), all had persistence of the same FMS symptoms.

Moderate to severe pain or stiffness was reported in 55% of patients, moderate to a great deal of sleep difficulty was noted in 48%, and moderate to extreme fatigue was noted in 59%. These symptoms showed little change from earlier surveys.

The surprising finding was that 79% of the patients were still taking medications to control symptoms.

We can conclude that the medications weren’t making a significant impact.

Conventional medical treatments for FMS and CFS is a controversial topic, and I certainly have no desire to offend the many brilliant medical doctors out there.

Still, in my experience, most traditional doctors continue to rely on prescription medications to treat fibromyalgia, even though their own studies show them to be ineffective and potentially dangerous.

They still just don’t get it. Those with fibromyalgia and CFS are sick and they want to feel well, not drugged.

Just try to find a doctor who really knows anything about these illnesses. Most don’t. It’s even harder to find one who is having any lasting success treating these illnesses. How many folks with fibromyalgia get well under the care of a traditional rheumatologist?

I rest my case.

I speak to fibromyalgia support groups across North America, and I can tell you what the answer is: very few. The three-month wait for a new patient appointment typically ends in a two-hour interview and exam followed by a 10 minute visit to discuss test results, and then several prescription drugs and a follow-up appointment every 3–6 months.

And let’s face it, those with fibromyalgia are medical misfits, they don’t usually respond to medications like other folks. The ACR has, like many physicians, thrown up their hands and admitted they have little if anything to offer for those suffering from fibromyalgia. They focus more on helping their patients “cope.” At least they’re honest about their limitations.

23 replies
  1. Millie
    Millie says:

    I feel like I’m a merry go round of medications and none give me relief. In the last year my case has gotten so bad I had to leave my job. I’ve been to local doctors in NM and even the Mayo clinic in AZ but nothing helps. Now I’ve gone from pain and brain fog to sweating and sleeplessness, acid flowing through my veins and now the depression is setting in. I don’t know what to do, where to turn and no one gets it. I tell very few people that I have it because they think I’m crazy. I wish someone could figure out the cause/cure or at least find a way to make it tolerable.

    • Lily
      Lily says:

      I am a recovered firiamyolgbc who left the care of medical profession to discover the cause and cure of this horrific condition, and I understand this condition from the inside and back out again. This is a good description of symptoms. Symptoms can often be mistaken for the cause, and treatments that help do not cure. Do not give up from failed hope. Keep going! See You Tube video: Curing Chronic Fibromyalgia Choosing What Works by author Valerie Lumley

    • Vivian Jones
      Vivian Jones says:

      You are not alone. I’m in the beginning of my 7th year with this fight. Every year, there are tests to make sure nothing else is wrong, heart,thyroid, colon, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis; because the symptoms mimic so many other illnesses. I’m tired. I was not able to work until last year, I have a job working from home, customer service. It is such a struggle. BUT I AM DETERMINED TO KEEP FIGHTING. SO YOU KEEP FIGHTING TOO!!!

  2. Dr. Murphree
    Dr. Murphree says:

    Millie I totally understand your frustration, I do phone consults with patients all over N. America. Please clinic 205-879-2383 they’ll be glad to help.

  3. Sonya Colburn
    Sonya Colburn says:

    I too am a chronic fibromyalgia suffer my Dr listens at me and not to me prescribes medicine that has adverse reactions I’m uncomfortable going to his office because I don’t feel I’m being heard. He prescribes meds that is in my file I can’t take I honestly don’t understand why except for the fact he doesn’t read his own file on me . I’ve recently been in a car accident 7 fractured ribs . A week after that my dearest friend passed away at 40 accidentally. So my stress level is off the chain . I need help and advice but most of all I need some one to believe in me and listen. Not push me out the door with free sample of bipolar disorder meds to which I did not take. I feel so depressed and am also suffering from injuries and the loss of my best friend. I’m tired of being like this please contact me 205 826-8465

  4. Marie
    Marie says:

    I am a suffering with Fibomyalgia I am miserable . My life had depleted over the last 2 years. In 2 years I was in 2 car wrecks that caused mild brain trauma . I had to help my mom during this time also that had been in icu, in hospital for falling off ladder shatter her keen broke her leg. I had no one to help me with her my dad I had to watch him for he has dementia, I have lost my job after 14 years because of new management ….being an accountant for 14 years ., I am in pain so bad for days I’m in bed. My dr. Also diagnosed me with PTSD after 2nd wreck win thin 10 mouths from each other , also post traumatic nerve damage , I have spinal stenosies from c1-c7 . This last wreck done me in!!! The trying to take care of two parents both sick then my grandmother passed in this time and had to rush to NC to handle all my moms business because she could not go in nursing home to do rehab. All off this wreck , mother, father, grandmother within 3 months of 2012 them 10 months later hit head on again sent my body in total shock! I suffer with fibro fog. I don’t sleep well at all I’m in pain and always tired. I’ve lost so much weight the chiropractor I went to was causing more pain I could not handle anymore . My eyes will start burning, ears inside even hurt. Things are more sensitive at times noise . I am in desperate need. I have never been on so much med. I have also been trying to do young living oils, acupuncture so expensive both .. I try to read up to stay away from white carbs. Sugar. I have been taking shots of b12 and extra because I had no b12 in blood work my vitamen d was also low . I have tried several times to call office and left message I never get a phone call back.. Please contact me..

  5. Charlene Merrill
    Charlene Merrill says:

    I suffer from fibromyalgia. I do not sleep; have hot flashes 24/7, some severe enough that I actually feel ill; I have constant fatigue, even going grocery shopping wears me out. My doctor put me on Cymbalta. It helped with the pain, but I then got to the point where nothing mattered (paying bills late or not at all, work suffered, etc. . .). I lost my job. I then weaned myself off the Cymbalta and had terrible mood swings for several months afterward. At this time, I take care of my mother (dementia), my daughter, my grandson (3 years old), and my ex-husband (who has filed for disability). When I clean my house, I am in such pain for 2 or 3 days that I can’t do anything.

  6. Sue Jolly
    Sue Jolly says:

    I was diagnosed with FIBRO when I was 26; yes 26 and I am soon to be 68!

    The Dr. who diagnosed me is now deceased, but was an awesome Dr. And Surgeon, and he treated you like a member of his family! He put me on a drug called Parafon Forte, it helped tremendously!!
    But after having a severe car wreck, taking care of an aging parent, having a son in the Military, a grandson in the Military during these horrible times in our World, my Fibro is QUADRUPLED! I’m in severe pain, feel like someone is ripping my body apart, 24/7. It never stops. My UROLOGIST TOLD ME that PARAFON FORTE was the only muscle relaxer I could take that would not destroy my kidneys! I took myself off anti depressants, Ambein, Trazadone. My Dr. Had put me on every antidepressant that has been marketed and I just felt ten times worse!! On the last one, ZOLOFT, I said, NO MORE, NO MORE! It took me over 2 years to get off Lexapro! THAT WAS A NIGHTMARE. I THOUGHT I WAS HAVING A HEART ATTACK! Well, I have left that Dr., now I have no Dr., because none of them want me. I have a disease called PBC, PRIMARY BILIARY CIRHROSIS IF THE LIVER. I ALSO STOPPED THE DRUG FOR THAT BECAUSE IT MADE ME BEDRIDDEN! I have come to the realization that I’m just going to have to hurt and not sleep for the rest of my Natural life, but, I refuse anymore of these stupid drugs that Drs. hand out, and THEY KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THEM, NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING. I also have to take BLOOD THINNER for a PROTEIN S(?) deficiency! I’ve just thrown my hands up with Drs. FROM NOW ON, I WILL DEPEND ON MY LORD AND SAVIOR for HEALING! I WILL BE PRAYING FOR ALL OF YOU, BECAUSE I KNOW “EXACTLY”. What YOU are going through! Thank YOU ALL for listening to my RANT!!!!

  7. Britta
    Britta says:

    I suffer from Fibro. The flares are relentless. Im tired of not being able to function. I’ve been through the gamut of meds. I know there is no cure but at least the Meds can try to help. I have a stress filled life. So much so, that my heart and BP are paying the price.

    • Dr. Rodger Murphree & Team
      Dr. Rodger Murphree & Team says:

      I’d love to help-Phone Consults are available and you can learn more by visiting the site and clicking on the consult link. If you have any questions please call 205-879-2383. The way to reverse the fibro symptoms and feel good again is to get healthy….it is the only thing that works. Listen to the testimonials on the treatingandbeating site

  8. Donna
    Donna says:

    As I read as of this I start to he able to put the puzzle of my life together and things are making more sense. I am falling apart..I have not slept well in years but now I don’t sleep at all. The aches and inflammation cause my hands and feet to be numb. After five back surgeries and 1 neck surgery, knee replacement, Carpel Tunnel surgery and revisions. Nerve pain, muscle pain, bone pain..I just want to have a good night’s sleep and be able to get out of bed in the morning. I’m only 54.. I have so much left to do!! I asked the doctor could I have fibromyalgia and she said you could and probably do so she started treating for that! What? Whose the doctor?? And I itch all over all the time is tha part of it? Like the stress, anxiety, depression and not being able to remember anything isn’t enough. Let’s not forget never being able to complete anything I start.I just need help..the right kind of help. I don’t need meds that make my sugar jump to 450 or a med tamales my legs double in size but doesn’t help with the pain at all.just someone to listen to me and then say I can help you, I know what to do… can you do that????

  9. Jill
    Jill says:

    My daughter is 22 and a college student at UA. She has chronic neck pain (9 months now) at the base of her skull with coordinating rash, at times. Occipital blocks have not helped and now her PCP diagnosed her with fibromyalgia based on symptoms alone, no lab or testing. Do you offer diagnostic testing to rule out or diagnose fibromyalgia? Can you help?

    • Dr. Rodger Murphree & Team
      Dr. Rodger Murphree & Team says:

      It doesn’t look like she has fibromyalgia. You can learn more on my site free articles about fibro The American College of Rheumatology first proposed the current criteria for defining FMS. The diagnosis requires that all three of the major criteria, and four or more of the minor criteria, be present:

      Major Criteria:

      1. Generalized aches or stiffness of at least three anatomical sites for at least three months
      2. Six or more typical, reproducible tender points
      3. Exclusion of other disorders that can cause similar symptoms

      Minor Criteria:

      1. Generalized fatigue
      2. Chronic headache
      3. Sleep disturbance
      4. Neurological and psychological complaints
      5. Numbing or tingling sensations
      6. Irritable bowel syndrome
      7. Variation of symptoms in relation to activity, stress, and weather changes
      8. Depression
      It’s reported that only 2% of the population meet all he criteria of the American College of Rheumatology. This estimate is much too low. There are some problems with the ACR criteria. The biggest being many individuals with FMS meet some of the criteria but not all of it. Most of these individuals have other symptoms associated with FMS not explicitly outlined in the ACR criteria. They may have insomnia, irritable bowel, fatigue, mental confusion, and only 4 of the 18 trigger points. Or they may have insomnia, fatigue and 5 reproducible tender points. Although the minor criteria represent the most frequent and usual symptoms associated with FMS, it doesn’t account for all of the various conditions seen in FMS patients.


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  1. Modern Medicine vs Traditional Healing - Brian Barr Solicitors says:

    […] Rodger Murphee, known on his website as The Fibro Doctor, suggests that some conventional medical treatment for FMS and CFS just aren’t cutting the […]

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