Marijuana Rated Most Effective for Treating Fibromyalgia

Medical marijuana is far more effective at treating symptoms of fibromyalgia than any of the three prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat the disorder.

That is one of the surprise findings in an online survey of over 1,300 fibromyalgia patients conducted by the National Pain Foundation and National Pain Report.

Cymbalta graphThe FDA has approved only three drugs – Cymbalta, Lyrica and Savella — for the treatment of fibromyalgia. Although they generate billions of dollars in annual sales for Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Forest Laboratories and other drug makers, most who have tried the medications say they don’t work.

The National Institutes of Health estimates that 5 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia, a poorly understood disorder characterized by deep tissue pain, fatigue, headaches, depression, and lack of sleep. There is no known cure and the disorder is difficult to treat.

“Fibromyalgia is devastating for those who must live in its grip. There is much we do not understand. We need innovative ‘out of the box’ solutions that change the face of this disease,” said Dan Bennett, MD, an interventional spine and pain surgical physician in Denver, Colorado, who is chairman of the National Pain Foundation.

Lyrica graphMany who responded to the survey said they had tried all three FDA approved drugs.

“The prescriptions that are available for treatment have more negative side effects than positive aspects,” said one fibromyalgia sufferer.

“I haven’t found anything! Please find a cure or at least a medicine that will take our pain away,” said another.

Asked to rate the effectiveness of Eli Lilly’s Cymbalta (Duloxetine), 60% of those who tried the drug said it did not work for them. Only 8% said it was very effective and 32% said it helps a little.

Among those who tried Pfizer’s Lyrica (Pregabalin), 61% said it did not work at all. Only 10% said it was very effective and 29% said it helps a little.

Savella graphAsked to rate the effectiveness of Forest Laboratories’ Savella (Milnacipran), 68% of those who said they tried the drug said it didn’t work. Only 10% said it was very effective and 22% said it helps a little.

About 70% of the people who responded to the survey said they had not tried medical marijuana – which is not surprising given that it is still illegal in most states and many countries. But those who have tried marijuana said it was far more effective than any of the FDA-approved drugs.

Sixty-two percent who have tried cannabis said it was very effective at treating their fibromyalgia symptoms. Another 33% said it helped a little and only 5% said it did not help at all.

“I’ve found nothing that has worked for me, apart from marijuana,” said one survey respondent.

marijuana graph“Nothing but medical marijuana has made the greatest dent in the pain and mental problems,” said another.

“Marijuana does help a LOT it numbs the pain. But it doesn’t last long and it makes your brain foggy,” wrote another fibromyalgia sufferer.

Survey respondents said massage, swimming, acupuncture, muscle relaxers and other alternative treatments also helped relieve their symptoms. Many said they take opioids to relieve their pain – although narcotic painkillers are generally not prescribed to treat fibromyalgia.

Other survey findings:

  • Four out of ten (43%) fibromyalgia sufferers feel their physician is not knowledgeable about the disorder.
  • Over a third (35%) feel their physician does not take their fibromyalgia seriously.
  • 45% feel their family and friends do not take their fibromyalgia seriously.
  • Nearly half (49%) said their fibromyalgia symptoms began at a relatively young age (18-34).
  • Only 11% were diagnosed with fibromyalgia within the first year of symptoms.
  • 44% said it took five or more years before they were diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Many survey respondents lamented that the disorder had taken over their lives, leaving them socially isolated, fatigued and in constant pain.

“I was once an active person and have now virtually become a hermit due to this disease,” said one.

“The worst thing about having fibromyalgia is disappointing loved ones when I can’t do things with them,” wrote one fibromyalgia sufferer.

“Having fibromyalgia is a life sentence. One simply cannot have a productive life living with this disease,” said another.

The 1,339 people who participated in the survey were self-selected as fibromyalgia sufferers. Ninety-six percent of them were female.

This was the second online survey of pain patients conducted by the National Pain Foundation and National Pain Report. The first survey found that over half of patients worry that they are perceived as “drug addicts” by pharmacists. Eight out of ten said they had stopped seeing a doctor because they felt they were treated poorly.

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28 Responses

  1. Gracie says:

    I have had Fibromyalgia for at least 25 years and after many surgeries (hip replacement, spinal disc fusion, carpal release, metal in my arm and wrist after a fall, etc) it has gotten increasingly worse. I was just finally diagnosed by my Rhuematologist a year ago. The only thing I have found to relieve the symptoms is marijuana. I came across this when my mother was dying from lung cancer and I was told by a nurse that IF I could get it, it would give her the most relief. Since we live in a state where it is not legal, we had to do a lot of digging to find some for her, and when she smoked it, she said it was a wonderful break from the pain. I am so glad I could do that for her to ease her suffering, no matter what I had to do to get it. It’s a shame that something given by God is withheld by government red tape. And yes, I also live in a southern state so you can guarantee these bible thumping Republicans will not approve it for a very long time. Just sad that something as simple as an Herb could bring such wonderful relief to so many people and we have to fight to get it.

  2. John Juster says:

    Has cannabis oil been considered since publishing this? Eating it far outweigh’s smoking it. Thank you

  3. mark green says:

    I take 60mg of Duloxitine and 300mg of Pregabalin and 200mg of Sertraline daily and they slightly just take the edge off the pain

  4. Diane V. says:

    I have suffered for many, many years and often gave up on doctors and healthcare community. I became uninsured and went 10 years without care… Finally, with the new healthcare law, I have coverage at 60 now but cannot yet find a doctor who is up to date on Fibro and able to recommend anything. My condition has worsened as it interfers with immune functions in the long term. We need research. It is so isolating to not have doctors, much less family, understand. Gentle hugs to you all. Diane

  5. ken shmo says:

    we were in a car accident 16 years ago. wife developed fibromyagia and changed our lives. she spent 3 weeks in mayo pain clinic with them saying it was the worst case they ever saw. very very terrible disease. constant pain, fatigue, headaches, stiffness, brain fog, absolute life changer, but thanks to the cnn report on medical cannibas, she tried it and it has given her life back to her and her family. doesn’t smoke it, just takes a capsule. no high just pain releif that is unbeleivable. no more hard core drugs that didn’t get rid of the pain, just made it bearable. We are from a small community in michigan, and the people who knew of her cannot beleive the change in her.
    We are 59 years old, grandparents and never used marijauna. What a wonderful medicine that our government “for the people and by the people” are keeping from us.
    This has to change. We are strong advocates of medical cannabis, due to the positive effect it has had on her condition.

  6. julie sisk says:

    I need some relief!

  7. L. Lafferty says:

    Living in Canada, our gov’t is very slow on the up take. We have just had a change to the laws for the suppliers/growers. There are so many applications that the gov’t can’t process them all.

    When I was diagnosed my dr sent me for several test before telling me I had Fibromyalgia. When Lyrica, then Cymbalta came on the market, she put me on them. For both it help from them lasted about 6 months only. I’ve been on these now since (I think) 2007 & 2008 respectively.

    It took my nearly 3 years to get her to give T3s and when they started to no longer work, it took another 3 years to get her to give me oxecodone. I talk to her once, about medical MJ but she flatly refused to talk about, stating she has a peitent with lung cancer after smoking MJ for 25 yrs. With the advances in different strains, I think it’s time to talk to her again, especially since the oxecodone is nearly at the point of no pain relief.

    I’ve been told by people that know more about the subject, that we will not see MJ legalized in this country until it is legalized in the US. At this rate I will be a very old man, (or dead) before that happens.

  8. Steve Harding says:

    Atleased you can get it legally in some states,I Carnt get anything like what’s. For sale over in the state’s,I have to buy off bad people. In UK send me some please?

  9. Mary schwarz says:

    I’ve been in serious pain most of my life. It started about age 12 and I am 66 now. Doctors have tries every thin including morphine opioids oxcodone and so many more I can’t remember them all . Do you think that should be allowed to legally try some thing that just may help me get out of bed? To go for a pleasant walk without a walker is a very distant memory. To go anywhere is nearly unbearable . The government knows they have cures for most every thing that aid us and for them to withhold it because they can’t figure out how to controll it the money it would generate (until we have time to grow our own) absolutely infuriates me to no end!!

  10. Lesley says:

    There is an answer to Fibromyalgia. It’s Guaifenesin. I wrote this article three months after I went on it and I was already starting to feel better. Now a year later I’m pain free and no muscle stiffness. It really does work. We just need to get big pharma interested. http://www.simplebackpain.com/fibromyalgia.html

  11. I have come to the conclusion after many years of pain from several conditions that a miracle is required. As I believe in God and am a Christian I have decided to pray, fast and seek counsel, you see my life is truly in the hands of God, and God says, we are to seek him and not be double minded, in other words, believe one day for healing and then get all doubtful and say, no, God will not heal. Globally miracles happen all the time, I believe it is better to put my life in the hands of God who made me, then to take medication that turns me into an addict or gives me serious side effects, Pills or God is the choice I have chosen mine.

  12. Lovelylady says:

    I live in a medical marijuana state. I started medical marijuana over 9 weeks ago. I also use CBD drops nightly. All I can say is that my pain has been reduced significantly that it is almost non existent. It’s like a miracle!

  13. Lisa K says:

    I have suffered for 27 years. My Mother suffered for 40 plus and actually underwent shock treatments in the 70’s as there was no diagnosis but “in your head”. I have tried most of these pharmaceuticals…Lyrica has worked for me for the past 8 years. Cannabis is the best for my pain and mood. I use it so regularly that I am functional…..more so than the pain meds made me. For the person asking for strains….Sativa works well for me during the day. It is mood elevating which helps with the depression and chronic fatigue as well as the pain. At night, I use Honey Pot which is Indica infused bee honey. Sleep like a baby. I believe cannabis to be the best treatment for this life long affliction/ curse.

  14. Henry says:

    This survey is hardly scientific. If medical marijuana can really help fibromyalgia, then the arguments need to be backed up with solid science rather than a loaded question. This only harms our cause.

  15. heather daugherty says:

    I was finally diagnosed with Fybromialgia 6 months ago by an ER DR. after the pain in my chest persisted for 6days. I have suffered for many years from pain that worsened after three surgery. I would tell my GP. about my symptoms and he would just say “There Is No Such Thing AsFybromialgia”well I knew better I am a LMT I also know my body . The pain is constant the depression the anxiety no sleep migraines to touch my skin hurts this is a horrible disorder of the body. I have not tried the pharmasuticals But I do know the best way for me to be able to get up and function is Marijuana. I have my best days when I have it .I have weaned my self off of Topamax,feoricet, lexapro,estadol,and xannex all in the last 2months it has been very hard but at least my organs are functioning better. So I say LEGALIZE MEDICAL MARIJUANA.

  16. Julie Sexton says:

    Marijuana is the only effective tool I’ve found to successfully treat my Fibromyalgia pain. I’ve been able through time to meter my doses to the least amount necessary to take edge off the pain enough to allow me to function without cognitive impairment allowing me to be able to do paperwork such add paying bills or banking

    But that small of a dose only knocks the pain level down from a 10 to a 7 or 8, but I’ve been living daily at between a 7 to 10 pain level that I can function nominally at a 7 pain level.

    It requires a larger dose to knock the pain down significantly which I reserve for use before going to bed because that allows me to get restful, restorative sleep and many times I awake feeling refreshed – something no known prescription medication can accomplish. And I should know because I’m currently on 12 different medications to help with my Fibromyalgia but none of the meds I’m currently on and none of the meds they’ve tried on me in the past help as much as marijuana helps. It’s a shame I have to be so judicious about using it because I have a very limited supply and don’t know if I’ll be able to get any more.

  17. Jo Anna says:

    I am richly blessed to live in Oregon, and one of the reasons is the attitude toward medical mj. However, I asked my Dr over a year ago about it. She was skittish, felt we should try “other things” first and the conversation was, shall we say, redirected. I didn’t persue it. I’ll see my rheumatologist next week and will take him this article. Then we’ll see what turns up.

    I do feel for those of you who would be thrown in jail if you were caught with decent pain medication. God bless us all.

  18. Krista Tuuk says:

    I haven’t smoked it in years as it gives me panic attacks and makes me VERY nauseous. I had cancer and sinc then have suffered from fibro. My oncologist would be willing to write the script, or whatever they do, to help me with this horrible pain but I need something that will NOT get me high.. Just make the pain go away… Do the oils or any of the other forms do this? I’m at a loss. I just want my life back! :(

  19. Ashlee Stroupe says:

    I thankfully live in Colorado where Medical Marijuana is legal. It helps so much for so many symptoms! For pain, use CBD strain and indica is by far the best way to go. So many kinds, but my favs are Kong, Grand Daddy Purps, Hero, Hog, and Purple Cotton to name a few. It truly is the best pain reliever amongst other things and all natural instead of narcotics!

  20. It would be very helpful for the online chronic pain patients to know what STRAINS seemed to be helpful. Although this is all anecdotal reporting, it’s a lot better than nothing which is generally not part of any survey, study, etc..

    cannadoc

  21. Christine H. says:

    I’ve had fibromyalgia for about 6 years now and I have tried all three prescription drugs marketed for it and I agree that none of them worked and only made my symptoms worse with the side effects and trying to wean off of them (especially Cymbalta, 3 days of complete hell). Marijuana has been the only thing to help me since I’ve tried it about 5 years ago. The problem is I live in New Jersey and our medical marijuana program is essentially a sham. Chronic pain is not on the approved disease list and even the people whose disease are on the list cannot seem to even get any. Our governor is completely ignorant and seems to think that cannabis is this horrible drug that’s worse than anything and he has said on several occasions that he will not touch anything having to do with cannabis.

    So, people like me who suffer with this horrible disease who have found something that actually helps to take the pain away and regain some sort of normalcy once again are screwed because we have no access to it legally.

  22. Christine says:

    I have never been a cannabis smoker until I joined a fibro support group that acknowledge cannabis can help. So I tried my first joint and yes it helped, but I did not like the high. Then I was introduced to Golden’s Organic Healing Oil (GOHO) and I was told I could apply this golden oil topical or ingest it in capsules daily without the high. Well at this point I would try anything that is cannabis related as long as I did not trip out again. Applying GOHO topically took my pain away in seconds! I was simply amazed. After three days of taking one small capsule a day my tremors faded away, I no longer woke up with aches and pains, my energy level was increased and no more severe anxiety! All this from one plant? LEGALIZE ALREADY!! http://www.gotgoho.com is where I found this product :)

  23. Melissa Souda says:

    Marijuana works for me in so many ways. Problem is buying on the “street” leaves no room for specific strains that really do help. My state Maine has approved the use and the dispensaries are set up…..problem is it costs $350 to get a doctor to issue the license. I live on disability and can’t afford this extortionist fee!! If the government would make it legal the doctors fee would be zero!! Can you imagine how much money our government would save if the “war on marijuana” were over? Not to mention the boost to the economy if it became an agricultural product. So much benefit…so many stupid people in the way!

  24. rana buss says:

    I have fibromyalgia it is horrible taking all these pills suck they help for awhile then you take more

  25. Michelle Shipman says:

    I agree that medical marijuana helps me. I have had Fibromyalgia after years of surgeries and pain. I know that medical marijuana HELPS!! STOP denying what people need.

  26. carol levy says:

    I made a video about why legalizing med. marijuana benefits all, not just patients. http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1117290
    Governor Corbett of Pa, where I am, continues to be adamantly opposed ignoring all the studies and date showing it to be beneficial.
    One would think that given the ‘war on drugs’ that is being taken out on pain patients and their access to narcotic medications the ability to prescribe this, by all accounts benign drug, would be very desired.

  27. Brenda Smith says:

    A chronic pain patient who has medication and treatment limited by FDA. GREAT information on opposition to Kentucky HB-1 Facebook site – hoping you like it and sign survey. My treatments have been dictated by FDA who doesn’t know me or care that I can’t walk without meds. One script that I had for 90 supply-cheaper with my insurance- is now cut to 30 days after 5 years. I pay more from my little disability check because of them. I put up with drug screens in bathrooms with no faucet- think about doorknobs. Have had 5 pharmacists in one day refuse to fill script for 14 pills. Went back to Dr and he called Walgreen,yes they have it. I go in, no they don’t, said you did 15 minutes ago. Oh you are the one and then charge $58 for 14 tablets after my insurance? My primary care that I have had for 6 years in now limited to what he can prescribe. The pain management clinic said they are limited and I must have painful useless dangerous procedures or be discharged with no medication. I also must do physical therapy and psychiatric evaluation. I am not a criminal and have never been arrested. And can’t have enough medication because the DEA might take their license.

  28. BossIlluminati says:

    the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

    “any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death” – cali secret 420

    from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

    20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary….nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states…even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice…no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol…not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

    Deaths by Alcohol and Tobacco: Millions
    Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade
    Deaths by Guns: Millions
    Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions
    Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever…they are killing my American family while denying freedom

    love and freedom forever

    AMERICA’S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS! 33

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