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Immune Modulating Treatments for Fibromyalgia

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Fibromyalgia related image Photo: Getty Images

New treatments for fibromyalgia are based on research into the role of inflammatory cytokines in the mechanism of pain production. Most of us are familiar with the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen to treat headaches and other minor pain conditions. More powerful anti-inflammatory drugs, the corticosteroids, are now being considered for chronic pain conditions including fibromyalgia. In addition, intravenous immunoglobulin and ultraviolet light have been tested for fibromyalgia pain, with promising results.

While the NSAIDs target the production of one type of inflammatory chemical, the corticosteroids reduce the production of several inflammatory chemicals and modify the function of white blood cells. They can either increase or decrease the perception of pain. This type of action is called a paradoxical effect. A recent report from The Rockefeller University suggested that corticosteroid treatment may be developed as a first line therapy for pain management.

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) was commercialized in the early 1980's as a treatment for immune deficiencies. It is produced from the plasma of a large number of healthy blood donors (similar to the clotting factor used for hemophilia). It is now used for a large number of autoimmune and systemic inflammatory conditions. This seems paradoxical as well, since we generally view immune deficiencies as “too little”, and autoimmune conditions as “too much” of the normal immune response. IVIg is even used for some transplant patients, who require powerful immune suppression, and for some patients with sepsis. A recent review article reported evidence that IVIg may be effective at reducing pain in chronic pain syndromes as well.

A very different immune-modulating treatment is ultraviolet light from tanning beds. A study from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina showed reduced pain levels plus improvements in positive affect, well-being, and relaxation from six weeks of UV light. The subjects exposed to UV light had better scores than control subjects exposed to non-UV light.

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EmpowHER Guest

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December 13, 2015 - 2:42pm

I have had fibro for a very long time, it took about 5 years to even get a diagnosis. I have done physical therapy as well as Cymbalta (which worked very well for me) and an assortment of other meds, when I found that I have liver damage from all the medications I was taking, I weaned myself off of everything.I take Lortab (hydrocodone) when I have flares and try to manage the rest of the time on my own. Its tough, but the hardest thing I think for any of us with fibro is the depression that goes along with it and keeping a positive attitude, especially since fibro doen't travel alone, it brings a multitude of "friends", IBS, Fibro Fog and others..Just Hang in there, the National Fibro Assoc., and others are making great strides to help us all. Thanks

October 27, 2011 - 7:40am
EmpowHER Guest

Hi. I was very interested in your article about IVIg treatments because I had several of them and I did seem to feel better, but each time I was told that it was in short supply and my insurance would not pay again. So disappointing to find something that helps and it is taken away from you. Has anything changed in the past 5 years regarding insurance payment and availability for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue.
Thanks Jan

October 26, 2011 - 4:04pm
EmpowHER Guest

There are many treatments for fibromyalgia and continue creating more but it is advisable to consult with a specialist which is given for each person.
Anxiety Health

October 5, 2011 - 5:01pm

Thanks, I will check hydrocodone, never heard about it..Yet I have been living with it for 20 years.

January 22, 2011 - 7:30pm
(reply to liora meidan)

I have been fighting for 20 plus years also. None of the meds I've tried have not worked. Just recently saw a Fibro/CFS specialist. Hoping to get some help from him. Located in Annapolis, MD. Was tested for 23 different things. Will let you know how it goes.

February 15, 2011 - 11:00am
EmpowHER Guest

Fibromyalgia is a disorder where only treatable symptoms such as pain since it has no cure. I read in Findrxonline about hydrocodone and I register your page to test it. So I buy online no doubt was very effective.

January 7, 2011 - 8:47am
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