Using Savella to Treat Fibromyalgia

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • We sometimes have questions asking whether anyone has tried Savella for fibromyalgia yet and if so, what their experiences have been.  Savella received FDA approval for the treatment of fibromyalgia in January of this year (2009), however, it was not available in pharmacies until the end of April.  Prior to its approval for FM, Savella was not approved for any other use in the U.S., therefore, it's been hard to find people who have taken it and could share their experiences. 

    That's why, when my friend Brenda told me her doctor had prescribed Savella for her, I asked her to take notes and share her experiences with me so I could, in turn, share them with all of you.  Brenda called me tonight with a very encouraging and positive report. 

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    Dosage Instructions

    When Savella is first prescribed, patients are given a trial pack by their doctor, which contains dosages that are increased gradually over a four-week period from 12.5 mg once a day to 50 mg twice a day.  The exact dosing schedule per package instructions is:

    Day 1 – 12.5 mg once a day
    Day 2 & 3 – 12.5 mg twice a day
    Day 4 thru 7 – 25 mg twice a day
    Day 8 thru 28 – 50 mg twice a day

    The neurologist who prescribed Savella for Brenda instructed her to increase the dosages even more gradually than the package indicated, so she stretched her four-week trial pack to last for seven weeks.  Later, when Brenda talked with her primary care physician, he told her that he generally gives patients two of the trial packs so they can make the dosage increases even more gradual. 

    Brenda asked me to suggest that you fill your Savella prescription at least a week prior to finishing the trial pack in case your insurance requires prior approval.  Hers did and it took a week to get that approval.  Thankfully, she had called early and was able to get her prescription filled just before she ran out of the trial pack.  

    Side Effects

    The biggest problem most people with FM have when it comes to taking new medications is unpleasant side effects, so I asked Brenda to make special note of any side effects she experienced.  Here is what she reported: 

    •  Nausea was the first side effect she noticed, but she found it improved when she took the Savella with food or milk.
    •  Constipation was a problem at first but got better the longer she took it.
    •  Bruising – Brenda always bruises fairly easily due to another condition, but felt she was bruising even more easily than usual when she began Savella, although that also improved the longer she took it.
    •  Emotional changes – For a while she felt she got angry more easily, but like the other side effects, it didn't last long. 

    While the side effects were somewhat unpleasant for a short time, Brenda said that by the time she got to the 100 mg/day dosage of Savella, they had all gone away and she was glad she hadn't given up on it.


    As I write this, Brenda has been taking Savella for seven weeks and says she couldn't be happier with the results.  She reports the following areas of improvement:

  • •  Her pain has decreased by about 75 percent.

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    •  She has more energy.
    •  The mental haze of fibrofog has cleared quite a bit.
    •  She has to take significantly fewer pain pills.
    •  She feels she's better able to deal with stress. 

    Of course, I have to say that this is just one patient's experience.  Every FM patient reacts differently and there is no guarantee your results will be the same.  I do hope, though, that this will start a conversation about Savella.  As more of you try it, please click on “Comment” below and share your experience,  whether it's positive or negative. 

    About Savella

    Savella is a type of antidepressant called a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI).  SNRIs work by slowing down the reabsorption of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.  People with fibromyalgia tend to have hypersensitive pain receptors.  It is thought that because Savella has a stonger effect on norepinephrine than serotonin, it may reduce the brain's exaggerated response to the neurochemicals associated with pain.

Published On: November 28, 2009