Zanaflex and Fibromyalgia

Nighttime pain is almost universal among those who suffer fibromyalgia and any successful treatment for fibromyalgias hould include either pre-bedtime-early evening physical therapy or muscle relaxants.

Experts who treat fibromyalgia have long known that muscle relaxants can be used to lessen pain and improve ambulation in the more than 5 million patients in the United States diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

As most family member know, fibromyalgia is associated with chronic pain, muscle tenderness, fatigue, restless sleep, and poor concentration. Its cause is still unknown, making it difficult to treat effectively.

Recent studies have underscored the fact that muscle relaxants may be used to lessen the nighttime pain of fibromyalgia.

One such study discovered that “low doses of the muscle relaxant Tizanidine (Zanaflex), taken at bedtime, help people with fibromyalgia sleep better and feel less pain.”

Use of Zanaflex for fibromyalgia pain is considered “off label” or not specifically approved for such use by the Food and Drug Administration.

In the Fibromyalgia-tizanidine group of the study:

  • Pain decreased 28%
  • Tenderness in muscle-trigger points decreased as much as 30%
  • Depression (often found in fibromyalgia patients) improved 22%.

These numbers are indeed fantastic! Many who suffer fibromyalgia would gladly pay thousands of dollars for a 28% decrease in both pain and tenderness.

So, I consider this study’s findings to be valuable and feel that every fibromyalgia patient should consider pre-bedtime tizanidine therapy.

During the past twenty years, many muscle relaxants have been used in treating fibromyalgia in hopes of improving quality of life issues in those with chronic pain, fatigue and muscle tenderness.

And in fact, many of my patients have told me that tizanidine does work best in relieving the discomfort of their fibromyalgia, as compared to the other currently available muscle relaxants.

Additional therapies for fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia patients can use daily self-directed physical therapy using aerobic exercises such as swimming, bicycling and walking to decrease muscle stiffness and pain and thus improve their quality and length of sleep.

We advise them to avoid exercising during the immediate two hours prior to bedtime, as exercising during that time period will cause continued autonomic (adrenal) stimulation and increased blood cortisol levels, making sleep onset difficult if not seemingly impossible.

I realize that not every drug works in every patient, but if there is even the slightest chance that something non-harmful will help ease one’s pain and suffering-then we should discuss the option carefully and consider using it as therapy.

You should always discuss new drug therapies with your doctor before trying them!

Hopefully, this information will provide a ray of sunshine at the end of that long, dark tunnel called fibromyalgia.