It's only been in the last ten years or so that doctors have put a finger on fibromyalgia, literally. Tenderness to the touch is one of the biggest symptoms in this condition that triggers chronic widespread unexplained pain lasting three months or longer. There is currently no FDA-approved treatment for fibromyalgia, but doctors are finding some new relief in an old drug. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati launched one of the largest studies of fibromyalgia in the U.S., testing the drug, Cymbalta, an anti-depressant. They found that most of the women in the study said the drug allowed them to function better with a lot more energy.
"The most important thing is they reported a reduction in pain," says Dr. Lesley Arnold, University of Cincinnati.
"There's like this low level of depression that goes along with it. I think partially because you do feel so miserable all the time, and that's completely gone," says Karen Smaby, a patient.
Karen is among three to six million Americans coping with fibromyalgia. Dr. Arnold says Cymbalta does have some mild side effects like nausea, constipation and drowsiness. Fibromyalgia mostly affects women. But men can get it. So, Dr. Arnold says studies will continue to see if men with fibromyalagia get the same response after taking Cymbalta.