Fibromyalgia syndrome has no cure, is difficult to diagnose, and effective pain management strategies are a must to help patients cope with the disease. An estimated 12 million Americans have fibromyalgia. The condition is far more prevalent in women and the incidence increases with age, 85% occurs in women in ages 20-50. Fibromyalgia is a soft-tissue musculoskeletal condition with characteristic pain and stiffness in at least 11 out of 18 specific tender sites. The pain, body aches, fatigue, and tender points are found over muscles and tendinous insertions in the in the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists and knees. The pain is usually bilateral (unilateral pain, especially surrounding a trigger point is called myofascial pain syndrome). It is difficult to diagnose and treat. It often includes fatigue, depression, sleep disturbance, and hormone imbalance. Other symptoms include spastic colon, bladder irritation, migraine, dizziness and heart palpitations.
Standard medical treatments:
SSRI’s (serotonin regulating antidepressants)
Elavil (a nerve calming antidepressant)
Warm water exercise
Supportive and alternative treatments:
5-HTP – 5-hydroxytryptophan, an amino acid derivative, pre-serotonin
Magnesium with malic acid – muscle relaxant and nutrient
DHEA – steroid pro-hormone, supports adrenal function
Pregnenolone – steroid pro-hormone, supports adrenal function
Guaifenesin – experimental therapy to decrease cellular swelling
Homeopathic injections into trigger points
Massage therapy including gentle myofascial release
Posture and alignment training
Epsom salt baths
Fibromyalgia and Cannabis
Cannabis has been shown to be helpful for fibromyalgia in 2 scientific studies. The first randomized, controlled-access trial to evaluate nabilone for pain reduction and quality-of-life improvement in fibromyalgia patients was published in the Journal of Pain in 2006. Nabilone is a cannabinoid drug, available in Canada. The results showed
that the nabilone group had significant reductions in pain and anxiety. In the July 2006 issue of the journal Current Medical Research and Opinion, investigators at Germany’s University of Heidelberg evaluated the analgesic effects of oral THC in fibromyalgia patients. Among those participants who completed the trial, all reported a significant reduction in daily recorded pain and electronically induced pain.
As fibromyalgia is a syndrome consisting not only of pain and muscle tension, but also may include insomnia and depression, cannabis is proving to be an efficient single medicine, providing relief otherwise requiring up to 4 pharmaceutical medications. It can be used internally and topically, applied directly to areas of pain.