Why Don't Anti-Inflammatories Work for Fibromyalgia Pain?

Motrin, Advil, Aleve & More

Question: I've tried a bunch of meds for fibromyalgia and I'm really confused. I've always taken Advil for headaches and things and it used to work great. Now that I have fibromyalgia, though, it seems to have stopped working for me. I've also tried Motrin and Aleve, but they're no better. What's going on? Why don't these drugs work against fibromyalgia pain?


Aleve (naproxen sodium) and ibuprofen-based drugs (Motrin, Advil) are classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, commonly called NSAIDs (pronounced en-seds).

They target the inflammation that can come from injuries or damage due to disease.

Fibromyalgia isn't associated with large amounts of inflammation and it isn't considered an inflammatory disease. In blood tests, though, many of us show slight elevations of inflammatory markers. The exact role of inflammation in our symptoms is still a matter of debate for researchers, with one theory proposing that we have inflammation in the fascia, which is a thin coating of connective tissue that runs all throughout the body.

Even if we do have some chronic inflammation, substantial research supports the theory that our pain is neurological -- that is, stemming from problems with our brain and nerves -- rather than inflammatory.

That's why doctors often prescribe anti-seizure drugs like Lyrica (pregabalin) and Neurontin (gabapentin), or anti-depressants like Cymbalta (duloxetine), Savella (milnacipran), and amitryptiline for fibromyalgia.

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