My Success Treating Fibromyalgia with Mirapex
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional of any kind. The following is an account of my personal experience with the medication Mirapex. In my experience the drug was very effective for treating my FMS. However everyone’s body works differently. Talk to your doctor to discuss your own treatment options.
What is Mirapex?
Mirapex, also called Pramipexole, is a dopamine agonist, which means it helps to restore the balance of dopamine in the brain. It was developed to treat Parkinson’s Disease. For Parkinson’s sufferers it increases the ability to move and decreases shakiness. Mirapex is also used to treat Restless Leg Syndrome, a condition which causes the sufferer to experience uncontrollable leg movements and discomfort, especially at night. RLS sufferers find it almost impossible to sleep without treatment.
Mirapex is not typically used to treat FMS. In fact, this drug was brought to my attention in a rather round about way. A family member of mine who has severe RLS was given Mirapex to treat it. The treatment worked great but she found that it had another quite desirable side effect, it greatly reduced her Chronic Fatigue symptoms.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS, is a disease closely related to Fibromyalgia. One that is more associated with fatigue then pain though sufferers experience chronic pain as well. Because the two conditions are so similar this family member called me up to tell me that Mirapex had made her feel better than she had in years.
Shortly before this we had both been experiencing significant flare ups. I had been in bed for months, relying on brain-fogging narcotics just to get through the day. The tricyclic anti-depressant called Elavil that I had been taking for my nerve pain had suddenly stopped working and had left me helpless against my symptoms. I was eager to try anything.
Does it work?
Like a dream! I could not say enough for this medication. It seems like every time I open my mouth I’m singing it’s praises. It certainly comes with side effects, as does every other medication, but a month or two in most of them have disappeared. I have found the best way to illustrate the effects Mirapex has had on my life is with the following chart.
As you can see the effects have been profound. It is important to note however that this treatment is not a cure, nor has it caused a remission. I still have FMS and deal with it everyday. If I push too hard I still end up in bed. If I eat too much sugar or caffeine my pain still goes up. I still have to maintain all of those all important lifestyle changes I made when I was first diagnosed. The difference is that now life feels like a gift again, as opposed to a burden.
When I last saw my specialist he was surprised to hear that I had such success with Mirapex. He had never heard of someone using it to treat FMS before. After hearing of my success he intended to suggest it to his patients who hadn’t yet responded to any medications. Here's hoping my GP and I have started a trend!
What are the side effects?
For me the side effects were pretty nasty in the beginning, to the point where my life was disrupted. It turns out, though, that the intensity of the side effects was most likely due to a mix up at the pharmacy. The pharmacy I went to (I have since changed for obvious reasons) doubled my dose accidentally. My doctor and I both agree that this sudden and unexpected increase was most likely the cause of the extent to which I experienced the following:
Extreme sedation: Parkinson’s and RLS sufferers take Mirapex throughout the day. So far I have only taken it at night and this side effect is the reason. One of the few side effects that has persisted is the extreme sedation I experience within 30 or 40 minutes of taking my nightly dose. Once the sedation has kicked in I can’t follow words in a book or a conversation with my husband. Apparently my words start to slur and I no longer speak in coherent sentences. Luckily, as I have chronic insomnia, the sedation just puts me to sleep and I wake up rested the next day. For me personally, this side effect is actually a positive one.
Dry mouth: This obnoxious little sucker has held on as well. I had experienced dry mouth with Prozac but had only been on that medication for a short time as it didn’t really work. As of this writing I’ve had about three months of consistent dry mouth. It’s annoying as hell but I just keep gum, hard candy and dried fruits on my person at all time. It’s a small price to pay.
Runny nose, nausea, light-headedness, hallucinations, loss of appetite and weight loss.
These are the side effects that disappeared after about a month and a half of use. The weight loss was so quick I was beginning to get worried but it levelled out after about three weeks and twelve pounds. Other than that it was just a lot of annoyances.
The only side effect on this list that caused any real trouble was the hallucinations. In the first month and a half I was having full on visual and audio hallucinations. At times they were frightening but for the most part I was completely aware that they were caused by my pills. Honestly, even if they hadn’t gone away I think I would have stuck with the medication, it’s that good. But like I said, my doctor and I both agree that my side effects were so bad mainly because of that sudden increase in dosage.
A word to the wise: Check your pill bottles at the pharmacy!
Talk to your doctor.
The information above is one FMS sufferer’s experience. If you’ve been experimenting with different treatments you know that everyone’s body responds differently to different treatment options. I would say that Mirapex is definitely worth a try, especially if your symptoms haven't responded well to other medications, but discuss it with your doctor first. If you experience resistance point him/her to my article. If they would like further information I may be able to put him/her in touch with a pain cinic in British Columbia that uses this medication to treat FMS.
My contact information can be found on my profile, just click on my picture above.