November 13, 2019

Narcolepsy sleeping pill Xyrem seems to improve fibromyalgia symptoms as well

It is great when a medication currently used to treat one condition is found to have properties that positively affect another health problem.  This is because much of the research has already been conducted and most of the side effects of the drug have been detailed.  Finally, the FDA has already given its stamp of approval for the use of the drug and doctors have been able to evaluate how individuals respond to taking the medication.  Such is the case with the sleeping pill Xyrem, which has been FDA approved to treat narcolepsy, but has been recently discovered to improve fibromyalgia symptoms as well.  It may also help with symptoms of fatigue, stiffness, and other varied symptoms, according to WebMD.

In a study of 334 patients suffering with fibromyalgia, researchers found that over half of the individuals taking Xyrem reported a thirty percent improvement in their pain.  The participants were initially split into two groups.  One group took Xyrem while the other participants took a placebo over a period of fourteen weeks.  At the conclusion of the study, fifty-four percent of participants taking a lower dose of the drug and fifty-six percent of participants taking a higher dose reported a thirty percent reduction in pain, WebMD reports.  This is compared with thirty-five percent of patients taking the placebo reporting less pain.  The researchers noted that the thirty percent reduction in pain showed an average improvement of pain, whereas the fifty percent reduction indicated a significant improvement.  What’s more is that many of the participants taking Xyrem noted that they felt an improvement in pain as early as the first week.

Participants did, however, report some side effects such as headache, nausea, and dizziness.  Additionally, the drug is made up of GHB, otherwise known as the “date rape drug,” and has the potential to be abused.  The researchers and doctors, however, argue that there are enough systems in place to prevent such abuse, and since its inception and use for narcolepsy, no abuse has been reported.

What is very interesting about this particular drug is that, according to this study, it outperforms the other drugs on the market specifically for fibromyalgia.  Xyrem is not a narcotic type drug like those marketed for fibromyalgia treatment, and that may be an added benefit for patients.  This study shows that there is the possibility of more drugs for the treatment of fibromyalgia, as well as the possibility of combining certain drugs, including Xyrem, to elicit an effective and quick response.  Despite the apparent success of this study, the FDA has still not approved the sleeping pill for use in fibromyalgia patients.  As with all new treatments, make sure to discuss using Xyrem in your daily treatment for the disorder.

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New way to diagnose fibromyalgia: Just look at someone’s gait!

Chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia are notoriously difficult to diagnose, and often, symptoms are characteristic of other conditions. People may live with fibromyalgia for years, never knowing why they are suffering with such severe pain. What may be worse is that they can be diagnosed with another condition entirely and not receive the medical attention they need. Their work, relationships, and daily lives can be adversely impacted, with no answers or relief. Now, a researcher from the University of Grenada has developed a new tool to accurately diagnose fibromyalgia. The unlikely method concentrates on the way a person walks, and when combined with specific diagnostic criteria, is very reliable in diagnosing the condition.

An individual’s walk is examined using various parameters, including: step length, time on each foot, time on both feet, walk spend, and sole pressure on the ground (Eureka Alert). The lead researcher believed that people living with fibromyalgia had decreased motor skills and also showed low performance in strength tests, body constitution, and psychological evaluations. From this belief came his theory that people with this disability have altered motion parameters that are then linked to decreased physical and psychological abilities, thereby limiting their quality of life. He decided to test whether fibromyalgia could be diagnosed on these altered motion parameters reliably.

The study focused on sixty-four women and twelve men diagnosed with fibromyalgia, as well as forty-five women and twelve men who were healthy and had no signs or symptoms of the disability. The participants underwent various tests regarding their medical and physical conditions. They found that those individuals who lived with fibromyalgia presented with definite altered motion capabilities compared to those who did not have the condition. Moreover, the fibromyalgia sufferers also had other symptoms that impacted their overall quality of life.

Although observing a person’s gait may not be likely used alone to diagnose fibromyalgia, it may be used in addition to diagnostic criteria to produce a more reliable result. The current testing criteria can often be misinterpreted and evaluating the way a person walks may provide that extra evidence needed to make a correct diagnosis. The earlier a person can be diagnosed with the condition, the easier it will be for them to get the necessary treatment and improve other areas of their life. Additionally, if the condition is so debilitating that they must stop working, having an accurate fibromyalgia diagnosis will allow them to seek disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.

Vibration therapy may help reduce balance problems associated with fibromyalgia

So many times chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia cause problems with daily living that most of us take for granted.  Fibromyalgia is most known for the debilitating pain that it causes, which can greatly impact an individual’s quality of life.  She can be in pain all over her body or in specific areas and be unable to work, go to school, or simply engage in daily activities such as cooking, walking the dog, or playing with a child.  Aside from the pain, however, fibromyalgia is also responsible for decreasing an individual’s balance, especially in women.  Now, according to Reuters, a study has shown how tilt platform vibration may be able to improve overall balance for fibromyalgia patients.

This new study is important because a lack of balance, coupled with crippling pain, can lead to many accidents and falls.  The condition is difficult on its own without having to then worry about falling on top of it.  The researchers noted that approximately half of those individuals living with fibromyalgia suffer with poor balance.  They also knew that tilt platform vibration improved balance, bone mass, and motor skills in elderly individuals, therefore, they wanted to test it with fibromyalgia participants.  The Spanish research team separated forty-one women, ages forty-one to sixty-five, with fibromyalgia into two groups.  Twenty-one were provided with vibration therapy, while the other twenty received their normal treatment regime without the vibration therapy.

Those who received the vibration therapy had three sessions with the platform providing vibration at a low frequency for twelve weeks.  They had a ten minute walking warm-up and up to six repetitions with the tilt platform.  The researchers found that the dynamic balance index improved by thirty-six percent in the vibration therapy group, while it remained the same in the control group.  Additionally and most welcome is that the women who weighed the most and had the worst balance saw the greatest improvement.

The researchers also believe that the vibration therapy slows bone mass loss and improves strength, which helps individuals to respond better to falling or the loss of balance.  They do note that more studies will be needed to see if the vibration therapy also reduces pain associated with fibromyalgia, as well as if the number of overall falls decreases.  If your balance has suffered as a result of fibromyalgia, you may want to discuss this type of physical therapy with your doctor.  It may just help you to better “balance” the effects of this chronic condition.