Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a widespread pain condition associated with fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, sleep disturbance, depression, anxiety, and stiffness. Milnacipran is one of three medications currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States for the management of adult FMS patients. This review is the second in a three-part series reviewing each of the approved FMS drugs and serves as a primer on the use of milnacipran in FMS treatment including information on pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, safety and tolerability. Milnacipran is a mixed serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor thought to improve FMS symptoms by increasing neurotransmitter levels in descending central nervous system inhibitory pathways. Milnacipran has proven efficacy in managing global FMS symptoms and pain as well as improving symptoms of fatigue and cognitive dysfunction without affecting sleep. Due to its antidepressant activity, milnacipran can also be beneficial to FMS patients with coexisting depression. However, side effects can limit milnacipran tolerability in FMS patients due to its association with headache, nausea, tachycardia, hyper- and hypotension, and increased risk for bleeding and suicidality in at-risk patients. Tolerability can be maximized by starting at low dose and slowly up-titrating if needed. As with all medications used in FMS management, milnacipran works best when used as part of an individualized treatment regimen that includes resistance and aerobic exercise, patient education and behavioral therapies.
Keywords: fibromyalgia; milnacipran; treatment.