Treating Chronic Pain with SNRIs

Studies have found that antidepressants can be effective at both treating anxiety and anxiety-related chronic pain.

In particular, the antidepressant that has shown the most promise is duloxetine.

Duloxetine, also sold under the brand name Cymbalta, is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor ( SNRI).

Duloxetine is FDA-approved to treat major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. And since 2010, it has been FDA-approved for the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal pain, fibromyalgia, and diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

In short-term clinical trials, duloxetine was more effective than a placebo.

SNRIs like duloxetine and sometimes SSRIs can also be used to help relieve pain caused by:

  • Arthritis
  • Nerve damage from diabetes (diabetic neuropathy)
  • Nerve damage from shingles (postherpetic neuralgia)
  • Nerve pain from other causes (peripheral neuropathy, spinal cord injury, stroke, radiculopathy)
  • Tension headache
  • Migraine
  • Facial pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Low back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain due to multiple sclerosis

Not only can an SNRI help with relieving pain, but it can also help relieve some of the depression and anxiety that comes along with it.

So how does it work?

Similar to an SSRI ( selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), the SNRI duloxetine inhibits the reuptake of serotonin. However, it also inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine.

This inhibiting mechanism of these two neurotransmitters, serotonin, and norepinephrine, can lead to a decrease in anxiety as well as an increase in mood and feelings of well-being.

So how does duloxetine help reduce chronic pain?

The answer to this question remains somewhat unknown, however, several studies have produced evidence that can provide some insight.

In our next article, we will take a deeper look at the results of some of these studies.

In the meantime, if you or someone you love is struggling with depression, anxiety, and/or chronic pain- help is available.

To get started, take action today and set up an appointment with one of our mental healthcare professionals.

We are here to help.

The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published the results of a study, that purports that pain is reduced as a result of relieving depression and anxiety.

While other studies, such as this one published in The Romanian Journal of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care propose that pain is actually reduced as the result of activating “descending pathways from the brain” while dampening “ascending pain signals from the body”.

Studies also suggest that the SNRI duloxetine might actually block sodium channels, and as a result, enhance the body’s own natural-pain-relieving endorphin system.

Though research continues to be done on how exactly duloxetine decreases pain, the fact of the matter is that it does.

Though it might not work for everyone, if you are suffering from anxiety and physical pain, it is worth discussing the use of antidepressant medication in order to reduce anxiety and pain.

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