How effective are analgesics in the treatment of fibromyalgia?

Updated: Apr 23, 2020
  • Author: Chad S Boomershine, MD, PhD, CPI, CPT; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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NSAIDs and acetaminophen are of limited efficacy in reducing pain due to fibromyalgia but are important adjuncts for nociceptive pain generators, such as osteoarthritis and degenerative spondylosis. [131]  Topical anesthesia with lidocaine (5% Lidoderm patch) can also be helpful in this regard.

Tramadol, a weak opioid agonist with additional effects on serotonin and norepinephrine receptors, improves pain associated with fibromyalgia. A trial of tramadol may be considered for second-line therapy in patients with moderate to severe pain that is unresponsive to other treatments.  [101]   [132]   In a 12-month observational study of opioid use in 1700 adult patients with fibromyalgia, tramadol proved superior to other opioids for improving pain-related interference with daily living, functioning, depression, and insomnia.  [133]   

Opioid analgesics with more potency (eg, hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine), although frequently prescribed in patients with fibromyalgia, appear to be of limited efficacy in most patients with this disorder and are generally not recommended. However, in addition to utility in the treatment of severe nociceptive pain (eg, radicular pain, advanced osteoarthritis of the knee), opioid analgesics may reduce pain, improve quality of life, and occasionally restore function in a patient with fibromyalgia who has severe allodynia and who has not responded to other approaches.

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