Drug Used for Depression Reduces Fatigue in Fibromyalgia Patients

by Dr. Simi Paknikar on  July 12, 2011 at 12:18 PM Health In Focus
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A drug used for depression called duloxetine has been approved for the treatment of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition wherein patients suffer from pain arising from multiple tender spots spread all over the body.  However, no demonstrable inflammation or other changes are observed at these spots.  Patients also suffer from symptoms like sleep disturbances, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and problems with memory and concentration.  They are greatly disabled by fatigue and require a lot of effort to undertake physical tasks.
Drug Used for Depression Reduces Fatigue in Fibromyalgia Patients
Drug Used for Depression Reduces Fatigue in Fibromyalgia Patients

A recent study evaluated the effects of the drug duloxetine on fatigue in fibromyalgia patients.  The study was conducted on 530 patients, mostly middle-aged women belonging to Caucasian or Hispanic race.  The included patients suffered from symptoms like moderate to severe fatigue, moderately severe pain, sleep difficulties, musculoskeletal stiffness and mild to moderate anxiety and depression.  Patients were assessed every 4 weeks using Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI) scales.  These scales took into consideration five aspects of fatigue - General Fatigue, Physical Fatigue, Mental Fatigue, Reduced Activity, and Reduced Motivation.  In addition, the patients were also assessed for other features that are associated with fatigue using Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) average pain, scales to rate anxiety, depressed mood, bothered by sleep difficulties, and musculoskeletal stiffness.  Side effects of the treatment related to fatigue were also assessed.

The researchers found that treatment with duloxetine significantly improved various dimensions of fatigue.  Significant improvements were noted in the MFI scale, BPI pain, anxiety, depressed mood, and stiffness during the first 12 weeks of the study.  The improvements continued even at the end of 24 weeks of treatment with duloxetine.

Some patients were initially treated with a placebo or an inert drug during the first 12 weeks and were later switched to duloxetine.  These patients showed a significant improvement in fatigue-related symptoms at the end of the study.

The researchers reported side effects of fatigue and either excessive or reduced sleep.

The researchers concluded from the study that duloxetine results in improvement of various dimensions of fatigue when used in fibromyalgia patients.

References :

1. Improvement in multiple dimensions of fatigue in patients with fibromyalgia treated with duloxetine: secondary analysis of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial; Lesley. M. Arnold et al; BMC Arthritis & Research 2011.

Source: Medindia

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