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Fibromyalgia (FMS), a syndrome characterized by chronic widespread pain (CWP), has no known etiology, and coincides with other life-altering symptoms including fatigue, mood disturbances and non-restorative sleep. Despite the multiple medication classes that are typically used for the treatment of FMS, there are no known studies assessing the efficacy of polypharmacy on symptoms of pain in this patient population. While analgesic medications, including opioid or opioid-like medications, are commonly prescribed, the use of these medications for FMS has not been fully described, including potential incidence of analgesic overuse. The primary purpose of this secondary analysis was to examine how many classes of pharmacologic agents were used in a sample of N=122 women diagnosed with FMS, the relationships among baseline pain levels and medication use, controlling for self-reported levels of fatigue and depression. Data was collected from two separate studies: (a) a cross-sectional study to examine the relationship among stress, symptoms and immune markers in women (N=50) with FM, and (b) an RCT to examine the effect of a 10-week guided imagery intervention on stress, self-efficacy, symptoms and immunity in women (N=72) with FM. In both studies participants were asked to provide lists of currently prescribed medications for treatment of their FMS-related symptoms. Examination of the data revealed that participants were prescribed 6 different classes of medications. These included opioids analgesics, non-opioid analgesics, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants, and benzodiazepines. Baseline pain severity scores (p=0.0106) and pain interference scores (p=0.0002) were significantly associated with opioid use as compared to those individuals who did not report opioid use. Study findings are considered preliminary data for development of a larger study to examine efficacy of polypharmacy and related potential risks of adverse effects or substance abuse in those with FMS. Supported by grants from NINR #P20 NR008988 (N. McCain, PI); #P30 NR011403 M. J. Grap (PI).

Publication Date


Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Victoria Menzies, phd


© The Author(s)

Polypharmacy and Symptoms of Pain in Women with Fibromyalgia