Effexor and Fibromyalgia

A healthcare provider may sometimes recommend an "off-label" use of Effexor, and fibromyalgia is one of the conditions that can be treated off-label with Effexor. Although it is not known exactly how Effexor relieves fibromyalgia symptoms, it is thought that perhaps the medicine blocks nerve pain signals in the spinal cord or brain. In previous clinical studies involving Effexor and fibromyalgia, the medicine relieved pain caused by fibromyalgia and decreased disability due to the condition.

Effexor and Fibromyalgia: An Overview

Effexor® (venlafaxine hydrochloride) is a prescription medicine used to treat depression (also known as major depression or clinical depression). It also comes in a long-acting form, Effexor XR® (venlafaxine XR). Effexor XR is approved to treat depression and anxiety disorders.
Some studies have shown that Effexor may be effective for fibromyalgia treatment -- though the drug is not approved for this use. This means that when prescribed for the treatment of fibromyalgia, Effexor is being used "off-label."

Effexor for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue (feeling tired). People with fibromyalgia have "tender points" on the body. Tender points are specific places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs. These points hurt when pressure is put on them. Other fibromyalgia symptoms may include:
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Morning stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
  • Problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called "fibro fog").
Effexor is part of a class of drugs called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs for short. SNRIs act on specific chemicals within the brain known as serotonin and norepinephrine. Serotonin and norepinephrine are two of several chemicals used to send messages from one nerve cell to another.
Although it is not entirely clear how Effexor works for fibromyalgia, the drug may help block the nerve pain signals in the spinal cord or brain. This may help with the pain caused by fibromyalgia.
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