Addressing Fibromyalgia with Trazodone

Published: July 23, 2012
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Trazodone (Desyrel) is a non-addictive calming medication that that helps sleep. This study examined the potential effectiveness and tolerability of trazodone as a therapy for fibromyalgia.

Methods

A dose of trazodone varying in amount from 50 to 300 mg per day was given to 66 fibromyalgia patients for 12 weeks. The impact on patients was assessed using the following tests:

  • PSQI — Pittsburgh's Sleep Quality Index
  • FIQ — Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire
  • BDI — Beck Depression Inventory
  • HADS — Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale
  • BPI — Brief Pain Inventory
  • SF-36 — Short-Form Health Survey
  • PGI — Patients' Global Improvement Scale

Results

Sleep quality in fibromyalgia patients improved notably. Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire results improved significantly, as did anxiety, depression, and pain. Oddly, a side effect reported by some patients was tachycardia (racing heart — seen in 21% of the patients).

Conclusions

Trazodone has a beneficial impact in managing fibromyalgia.

I would note that although 300-450 mg a day is a common dose for anxiety and depression, for helping sleep in CFS/FMS most people only need 25-50 mg at bedtime. The medication is not addictive, can be combined with other sleep meds, and tends to maintain its effectiveness over time. I suspect the occasional elevated heart rate relates to higher doses being used — especially if combined with other serotonin raising medications (e.g., Cymbalta, Prozac or Ultram).

After (and often along with) Ambien and Neurontin, I find trazodone to be the most helpful sleep medication for CFS/FMS.

References

"Trazodone for the treatment of fibromyalgia: an open-label, 12-week study." Piedad Morillas-Arques, Carmen MA Rodriguez-Lopez, Rocio Molina-Barea, Fernando Rico-Villademoros and Elena P. Calandre. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2010, 11:204. Published: 10 September 2010.

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of four research studies on their treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome From Fatigued to Fantastic! and his newer The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution.  Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health. 

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