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Arthritis Rheum. 2013 Feb;65(2):529-38. doi: 10.1002/art.37734.

Low-dose naltrexone for the treatment of fibromyalgia: findings of a small, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, counterbalanced, crossover trial assessing daily pain levels.

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  • 1Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California 94304-1573, USA. jarred.younger@stanford.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether low dosages (4.5 mg/day) of naltrexone reduce fibromyalgia severity as compared with the nonspecific effects of placebo. In this replication and extension study of a previous clinical trial, we tested the impact of low-dose naltrexone on daily self-reported pain. Secondary outcomes included general satisfaction with life, positive mood, sleep quality, and fatigue.

METHODS:

Thirty-one women with fibromyalgia participated in the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, counterbalanced, crossover study. During the active drug phase, participants received 4.5 mg of oral naltrexone daily. An intensive longitudinal design was used to measure daily levels of pain.

RESULTS:

When contrasting the condition end points, we observed a significantly greater reduction of baseline pain in those taking low-dose naltrexone than in those taking placebo (28.8% reduction versus 18.0% reduction; P = 0.016). Low-dose naltrexone was also associated with improved general satisfaction with life (P = 0.045) and with improved mood (P = 0.039), but not improved fatigue or sleep. Thirty-two percent of participants met the criteria for response (defined as a significant reduction in pain plus a significant reduction in either fatigue or sleep problems) during low-dose naltrexone therapy, as contrasted with an 11% response rate during placebo therapy (P = 0.05). Low-dose naltrexone was rated equally tolerable as placebo, and no serious side effects were reported.

CONCLUSION:

The preliminary evidence continues to show that low-dose naltrexone has a specific and clinically beneficial impact on fibromyalgia pain. The medication is widely available, inexpensive, safe, and well-tolerated. Parallel-group randomized controlled trials are needed to fully determine the efficacy of the medication.

Copyright © 2013 by the American College of Rheumatology.

PMID:
23359310
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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