ARTICLE FROM MA CHAPTER OF ARTHRITIS FOUNDATION, Fall 2008 Below is a question answered by renowned rheumatologist David Freeman of Caritas Carney Hospital and Lahey Clinic. Q: I have heard that there is now a medication specifically approved for fibromyalgia. Can you tell me about it? A. The medical treatment for fibromyalgia is fundamentally unchanged, with the exception of the fact that a medication already in use for other purposes, Lyrica, has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for this illness. The agency based its decision mainly on unpublished trials conducted by the manufacturer, and there are hardly any peer-reviewed studies published in the medical literature that confirm and quantify its effects. The dose range for which it is recommended is fairly high and there will be a number of people who will have side effects. Whether this is a genuine improvement in current therapy remains to be seen, and I suspect it will take years before we know for sure. All known medical treatment for fibromyalgia aims at relieving the symptoms of pain and insomnia, and the medications which have been best supported by good studies are Amitriptyline for sleep and Tramadol for pain. Only regular exercise, no less than a daily program of sustained (an hour or more) aerobic exercise and total body work-out truly makes you healthier. Improvement in fitness is the key to improvement in fibromyalgia. You may need to begin slowly and to work up to your ultimate fitness goals. Preparing for exercise with a warm shower, and the use of heat or ice afterwards may help to diminish exercise related muscle soreness. Some people with fibromyalgia find that they are more comfortable exercising in a warm pool. Consult with your personal physician before beginning an exercise program if you have been inactive for some time.