news piece about dextromethorphan for treating FM pain

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by sunflowergirl, Sep 1, 2006.

  1. sunflowergirl

    sunflowergirl Well-Known Member

    Medical Breakthroughs: Old Remedy/New Help for Fibromyalgia Patients

    BACKGROUND: Fibromyalgia is an incurable illness that causes widespread muscle aches, stiffness, fatigue and sleep disturbances. An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from the condition, most of them women. Current treatment strategies include pain medication, exercise, stretching, sleep management, and psychological support.

    THE CAUSE: The underlying cause of fibromyalgia remains unknown, but in the past 25 years, substantial progress has been made toward understanding the mechanisms behind specific features of fibromyalgia. Rheumatology expert Roland Staud, M.D., a University of Florida associate professor, says, "One [mechanism] is central sensitization -- a feature of many chronic pain conditions in which the central nervous system -- the brain and spinal cord -- somehow magnifies pain signals to abnormally high levels." Central sensitization is associated with wind-up, a phenomenon in which repeated touches -- even handshakes or pats on the back -- generate lingering pain that increases with each new contact.

    NEW HOPE: Dextromethorphan, an over-the-counter ingredient found in many cough syrups, may help fibromyalgia patients quiet over-reacting nerves that amplify ordinary touches into agony. A University of Florida study documents, for the first time, that dextromethorphan temporarily reduces the intensity of fibromyalgia "wind-up" -- a snowballing pain response to minor, repetitive physical contact.

    WHAT IS IT? Dextromethorphan is popular in cold remedies because it elevates the threshold for the coughing reflex but does not cause physical addiction, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. However, fibromyalgia patients should not resort to self-medicating by taking cough syrups for pain, Staud cautions. "Like every medication, dextromethorphan has side effects," he says. "At high doses, patients can have problems related to memory and confusion."

    THE STUDY: Though the UF study did not establish guidelines for using dextromethorphan clinically, it suggests the drug may eventually be an option for treating fibromyalgia and other conditions involving heightened pain sensitivity. Dr. Staud says: "I think it's one piece of the mosaic. We currently have no single therapy in chronic pain that has a big effect. So what this really means for chronic pain patients is that they need to use a whole host of different interventions to decrease the pain they have. And in this, dextromethorphan may have a role in the future." In the current study, researchers worked with 14 women with fibromyalgia and 10 women who did not have the disease. They used mechanical devices that tapped the participants' hands repeatedly. One part of the study involved contact with a heated probe; the other used a small rubber-tipped peg. The intensity of the heat or pressure of the stimulation was individually adjusted so that all participants reported feeling the same degree of pain. Researchers then gave each participant a capsule containing 60 milligrams of dextromethorphan, 90 milligrams of dextromethorphan, or a placebo containing none of the drug, and asked them to rate the amount of pain they experienced when the stimulation was repeated.

    THE RESULTS: With the heat stimulus, 90 milligrams of dextromethorphan reduced wind-up pain, but 60 milligrams was no more effective than the placebo. With the pressure stimulus, 90 milligram and 60 milligram doses were equally effective, reducing wind-up pain.


    Mike Garrison
    Director of Broadcast News
    University of Florida Health Science Center
    Gainesville, FL 32611

  2. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    How interesting, partic as Guia is also a cough med. Wonder if they share properties?

    Love Anne

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