How long for Duloxetine to treat Fibromyalgia? (3+ Ideas)

In this article, we will talk about the effect of duloxetine on fibromyalgia and the time taken by duloxetine to treat fibromyalgia. We will also discuss the lifestyle changes and measures which will help reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia along with the safe and effective use of duloxetine.

How long for Duloxetine to treat Fibromyalgia?

Duloxetine starts to show its effect in the first week of treatment, and at 12 weeks of treatment, a significant improvement is seen in the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Duloxetine therapy has shown to be beneficial in treating symptoms of fibromyalgia along with improvement in mood and quality of life. (1)

The effect of duloxetine varies from person to person; some may respond to the treatment soon, while some may take weeks to respond. If you notice no reduction in the symptoms of fibromyalgia, visit your physician for proper management. Your physician may increase your dose or change the medication.

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia that duloxetine treats?

Duloxetine treats pain, mood changes, fatigue and overall symptoms of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder which is said to be associated with stress. Fibromyalgia is influenced by a number of factors, such as the autonomic nervous system, genetic factors, psychosocial variables and environmental stressors. (2)

Symptoms of fibromyalgia include: (3)

  • Pain in muscles and overall body pain, especially in arms, legs, head, chest, abdomen, back and buttocks. The pain can be in the form of aching, burning or throbbing.
  • Fatigue
  • Troubling sleeping
  • Muscle and joint stiffness.
  • Numbness to tingling in arms and legs
  • Brain fog (impaired concentration and memory)
  • Increased sensitivity to light, noise, odours and temperature

The symptoms may vary from person to person. Fibromyalgia is associated with pain, emotional distress, anxiety, and stress. The use of antidepressants helps treat both pain and emotional symptoms.

How does duloxetine treat fibromyalgia?

Duloxetine belongs to a class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs), which increases the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine and also enhances dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex. An increase in these neurotransmitters has a positive effect on mood and emotions. (4)

Duloxetine treats pain by acting on noradrenergic and serotonergic neurons of the dorsal horn in the spinal cord. This decreases the signal of pain that reaches the brain, hence decreasing the perception of pain. (4)

It is important to understand that the way duloxetine affects a person’s body and mind can differ depending on various factors such as age, weight, and genetics. Therefore, some individuals may not experience any significant improvement in their condition despite taking the medication. If you do not notice any change in your symptoms, consult your physician for further management.

What does the research suggest?

The usual dose of duloxetine to treat fibromyalgia is 60-120 mg/dl. At this dose, patients have reported improvement in the symptoms of fibromyalgia. (1)

Duloxetine 60mg/day is said to reduce 50% of pain in patients suffering from fibromyalgia. Research studies have found that a 60mg daily dose of duloxetine is beneficial in treating pain related to diabetic neuropathy and fibromyalgia. (5)

The patients who were being treated with duloxetine experienced minor side effects such as nausea, drowsiness, insomnia, headache, dry mouth, constipation and dizziness. (5) A combination of duloxetine with pregabalin showed increased effectiveness in treating pain symptoms when it was compared to monotherapy. Patients treated with combination reported drowsiness more frequently. (6)

What are the alternative treatments for fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a stress-related disorder and can be managed effectively with lifestyle modification along with drug therapy. Apart from duloxetine, there are other drugs which can be used in fibromyalgia.

Pharmacological therapy:  

Amitriptyline: A low dose of tricyclic antidepressant (amitriptyline) is used to treat pain and sleep disturbances in fibromyalgia. Side effects such as weight gain and an increased tolerance towards the drug reduced the use of amitriptyline in some individuals. (7)

Milnacipran: Milnacipran 100mg/day and venlafaxine (Effexor) also treat fibromyalgia. Milnacipran is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), and venlafaxine is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor which acts by increasing the level of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.  (7)

Antiepileptic drugs: Antiepileptic drugs such as pregabalin and gabapentin can be used in treating fibromyalgia. A combination of pregabalin with duloxetine has shown significant benefits in treating symptoms of fibromyalgia. (6,7)

Others: Other drugs, such as codeine, fentanyl and oxycodone, are contraindicated as they have shown decreased clinical response and have an increased risk of addiction. Acetaminophen and other NSAIDs have no effect in treating symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. (7)

Non-pharmacological therapy: 

Treating chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia can be tricky sometimes. However, it can be managed by a few lifestyle modifications. Here are some therapies and lifestyle changes which can help you manage symptoms of fibromyalgia effectively:

Stress management: Since fibromyalgia is stress-related, managing your stress can help treat half of your problems. You can manage your stress by practising breathing techniques, meditation, exercising regularly, and participating in activities such as cycling, swimming, walking, running, etc.

Relaxation techniques: Mind-body practices such as yoga and tai-chi, which involve gentle movements, stretches, slow-flowing movements, and deep breathing techniques, help manage stress, reduce pain and enhance relaxation.

Massage therapy: Massage helps decrease the muscle tension built up in your body. Massage also helps improve your blood circulation. Getting massage therapy once a week can be beneficial in minimising the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): CBT helps you to identify your thought patterns and behaviours, which helps you manage the stress and emotional distress caused by fibromyalgia.

Hydrotherapy: Hydrotherapy, such as warm water baths, can help reduce pain and tenderness in your body.

Sleep hygiene: If you are having trouble sleeping, try maintaining a clean environment when you go to sleep. Take a warm water bath before bedtime, as it will help you sleep better. Keep your room dark and cold. Maintain a proper sleep schedule and follow it every day.

Dietary changes: There are no special diet restrictions for fibromyalgia. However, consuming foods that are rich in nutrients and protein helps your body stay healthy and strong.

In my experience, duloxetine is effective in treating pain and emotional distress caused by fibromyalgia. Duloxetine, in combination with other medications such as pregabalin, shows enhanced benefits.

The dose of duloxetine in treating fibromyalgia should be determined by a physician because the dose varies from person to person, and if an increased dose of duloxetine is consumed, it causes serious side effects.

Discontinuing duloxetine suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms, which will worsen your condition. Consult your physician if you want to stop the medication; your physician will taper your dose accordingly and discontinue your drug.

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