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Fibromyalgia patients may benefit from cough remedy, UF study finds

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Dextromethorphan, an over-the-counter medication that silences coughs, may help fibromyalgia patients quiet over-reacting nerves that amplify ordinary touches into agony.

A University of Florida study documents, for the first time, that dextromethorphan temporarily reduces the intensity of fibromyalgia "wind-up," a snowballing pain response to minor, repetitive physical contact. The discovery, described in the May issue of The Journal of Pain, also enables researchers to rule out one suspected cause of the phenomenon.

Fibromyalgia is an incurable illness that causes widespread muscle aches, stiffness, fatigue and sleep disturbances, according to the National Fibromyalgia Association. An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from the condition, most of them women. Current treatment strategies include pain medication, exercise, stretching, sleep management and psychological support.

Though the UF study did not establish guidelines for using dextromethorphan clinically, it suggests the drug may eventually be an option for treating fibromyalgia and other conditions involving heightened pain sensitivity, said rheumatology expert Roland Staud, M.D., a UF associate professor of medicine and the study's principal author.

"I think it's one piece of the mosaic," Staud said. "We currently have no single therapy in chronic pain that has a big effect. So what this really means for chronic pain patients is that they need to use a whole host of different interventions to decrease the pain they have. And in this, dextromethorphan may have a role in the future."

Dextromethorphan is popular in cold remedies because it elevates the threshold for the coughing reflex but does not cause physical addiction, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

But fibromyalgia patients should not resort to self-medicating by taking cough syrups for pain, Staud cautioned.

"Like every medication, dextrom
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Contact: Melanie Ross
ufcardiac@aol.com
352-392-2621
University of Florida
19-May-2005


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