Does Cymbalta work for CRPS? (+5 alternatives)

In this article, we will explore the efficacy of Cymbalta in managing complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) symptoms. We will also discuss the clinical research studies supporting the use of Cymbalta for CRPS patients. Additionally, we will discuss the alternatives to Cymbalta for managing CRPS symptoms.

Does Cymbalta work for CRPS?

Yes, Cymbalta works for complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), aiming to alleviate its symptoms. CRPS is a complex condition marked by frequently intense pain, typically impacting a single limb. Cymbalta helps in chronic pain management associated with various conditions including CRPS. 

Cymbalta is an antidepressant medication that belongs to the class of serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. It is commonly known as Duloxetine which is frequently prescribed in clinical settings for the treatment of depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia (1). 

How does Cymbalta work for CRPS? 

Cymbalta works by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. These neurotransmitters are associated with the modulation of pain and mood. Patients with CRPS often complain of low mood and severe pain in their limbs. The elevated levels of serotonin are responsible for the elevation of low mood and regulation of pain perception in these patients (2). 

The medication’s dual mechanism of action makes it a valuable option in addressing the multifaceted nature of chronic pain in CRPS, providing relief and contributing to enhanced patient outcomes.

What are the symptoms of CRPS?

CRPS is associated with various signs and symptoms that may negatively impact the quality of life of patients suffering from this chronic syndrome. Some of the commonly reported symptoms may include (3): 

  • intense pain
  • swelling
  • changes in skin temperature
  • hyperalgesia
  • sleep disturbances
  • edema
  • motor dysfunction
  • joint stiffness 
  • tiredness
  • alterations in skin color and texture
  • allodynia 
  • muscle weakness
  • increased risk of fractures

It’s important to note that the symptoms of CRPS can vary from one person to another, and the severity of symptoms may change over time. 

What does research suggest?

According to research, Cymbalta is effectively used in the management of chronic pain associated with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome due to its interference with serotonin and norepinephrine. By increasing the neurotransmitter levels in the brain, Cymbalta helps alleviate pain and improve the overall quality of life for individuals living with CRPS (2). 

 In a research study, the effectiveness of Cymbalta in managing chronic pain associated with various medical conditions was investigated through the analysis of more than 10 studies over a 12-week duration. The results consistently demonstrated notable improvements in pain relief, underscoring the medication’s efficacy in addressing chronic pain (3).

What to do if Cymbalta fails to manage CRPS?

Managing chronic pain associated with CRPS with Cymbalta usually takes a few weeks to months. During the initial period of treatment, it is important to remain patient. However, if you feel that Cymbalta is not improving your symptoms even after weeks of treatment, you should report it to your healthcare provider.

Your healthcare provider will analyze your condition and determine the actual cause of treatment failure. They may increase the dosage of Cymbalta if the lower dose is not effective or add another medication to your therapy. 

If Cymbalta is negatively impacting your condition or causing side effects that are making your condition worse, your healthcare provider may recommend that you discontinue Cymbalta and provide you with an alternative medication. 

It is important to note that the discontinuation of Cymbalta should only be done gradually under the guidance and supervision of your healthcare provider. Sudden withdrawal of antidepressant medications, including Cymbalta, may lead to discontinuation syndrome.

What are alternatives to Cymbalta for managing CRPS?

There are several alternative medications to Cymbalta that can effectively manage the symptoms associated with complex regional pain syndrome. These medications may include the following (4):

  • Bisphosphonates (alendronate)
  • tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline)
  • anticonvulsants (gabapentin, pregabalin)
  • analgesics (paracetamol, ibuprofen)
  • opioids (morphine)

Additionally, non-pharmacological interventions can be combined with medications to provide additional support in managing the symptoms. These interventions may include, targeted exercises to improve mobility, counseling, and cognitive-behavioral therapy to address the psychological aspects of CRPS.

In my opinion, CRPS is a complex medical condition that is managed by using a combination of medications. Cymbalta alone is not effective in managing the overall symptoms of CRPS. However, in clinical settings, Cymbalta is prescribed to treat the chronic pain associated with this syndrome. 

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Dhaliwal JS, Spurling BC, Molla M. Duloxetine. 2023 May 29. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31747213.


Skljarevski V, Zhang S, Iyengar S, D’Souza D, Alaka K, Chappell A, Wernicke J. Efficacy of Duloxetine in Patients with Chronic Pain Conditions. Curr Drug ther. 2011 Nov;6(4):296-303. doi: 10.2174/157488511798109592. PMID: 22876216; PMCID: PMC3412202.


Gudmundsson KG. [Complex regional pain syndrome, CRPS]. Laeknabladid. 2021 Jun;107(6):288-296. Icelandic. doi: 10.17992/lbl.2021.06.640. PMID: 34057076.


Taylor SS, Noor N, Urits I, Paladini A, Sadhu MS, Gibb C, Carlson T, Myrcik D, Varrassi G, Viswanath O. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: A Comprehensive Review. Pain Ther. 2021 Dec;10(2):875-892. doi: 10.1007/s40122-021-00279-4. Epub 2021 Jun 24. Erratum in: Pain Ther. 2021 Jul 26;: PMID: 34165690; PMCID: PMC8586273.

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