What is Naltrexone?
What is low-dose naltrexone (LDN)? Naltrexone is a drug approved by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) in 1984 to treat alcohol and opiod drug addictions. The dose for addictions is 50-100mg. However, researchers discovered that low doses of naltrexone are beneficial for reducing chronic pain in some conditions. Doses for fibromyalgia pain are in the 1.5 to 8mg range hence the term low-dose.
Researchers think “naltrexone works by temporarily binding and blocking a mechanism called the MU receptor, which is linked to pain. Blocking the receptor tells our bodies that we aren’t producing enough endorphins (our natural pain relievers).” Blocking these receptors causes our bodies to make more endorphins which helps decrease pain.
Dr. Neel Mehta says, “Generally, my patients report pain relief greater than 50 percent, that they’re sleeping better, or can return to work,” and “…some patients end up responding well to doses as low as 0.1 for reasons we don’t yet completely understand. Patients are experiencing good results with low harm in these early studies.”
My Experience with Low-dose Naltrexone
After 4 months of caring for a family member having a health crisis, my fibromyalgia pain was very bad. Everything hurt constantly. My sleep wasn’t good. Pain kept me from falling asleep and woke me up through the night.
In the past I had tried tramadol for my fibro pain. It helped me get to sleep when my pain was bad, but because it is an opiod, I had to do a urine drug test in my doctor’s office when I needed a refill. Even though my prescription lasted a year.
I was reluctant to ask for tramadol this time when over-the-counter medicines weren’t helping.
So I did research on low-dose naltrexone (LDN) for fibromyalgia pain and asked my doctor if I could give it a try. For unknown reasons it took several months for my doctor to actually order it after he said I could try it.
What I didn’t understand was I needed to pick a compounding pharmacy for the prescription to be sent to. Compounding means the pharmacy has to order the medication in powder form and put your dose into empty capsules for you.
Not every pharmacy provides this service. If you want to try low-dose naltrexone, do some research and find a compounding pharmacy near you before you talk to your doctor about trying it. This should speed up the process.
Did It Help Reduce My Pain
Yes, it did reduce my pain after a couple weeks. My doctor started me out on 4.5mg once a day for a week and then increased it to twice a day.
My sleep improved a lot and I’m feeling much better than I was. I did experience more vivid dreams while getting used to this medication, but this has gone away. It wasn’t really a problem, just something I noticed.
Downsides of LDN
The biggest downside to low-dose naltrexone is the fact that my insurance (Medicare) will not cover compounded medications. So my prescription costs me $65 every month.
My son gets his LDN from a mail-order pharmacy and pays $55 for a 90 day prescription. His doctor is willing to use an out-of-state mail order pharmacy. Mine tells me he cannot use an out-of-state mail order pharmacy for my LDN.
The other downside for me is the compounding pharmacy is not close to my home, requires a nerve-wracking drive on a busy interstate to get there, and is closed on week-ends.
There are also days when the pharmacist isn’t there. So even if the doctor has sent my prescription in, it cannot be filled until the next time a pharmacist is in even if that means I’ll run out. This has happened to me. ):
Wrap-Up of Low-dose Naltrexone for Fibro Pain
I’m really happy that my fibro pain is better on LDN. Fortunately, I can afford the $65 out of pocket every month.
I don’t know if all insurance companies deny coverage for compounded medications, but Medicare and Medicaid do not cover low-dose naltrexone. If you want to try it, check with your insurance company for coverage. Also, check local compounding pharmacies near you for their prices. Perhaps you can use a mail-order pharmacy like my son does.
Hopefully, you can find an affordable price for you so you can try this medication for your fibro pain.
If you need more information about treatments for fibromyalgia pain check out Fibromyalgia Treatments: Medications
I am thrilled to let you know that my book is available for pre-order on Amazon! If you or someone you love has experienced domestic abuse and had their Christian faith used against them as part of the abuse, this book will help clear up any confusion. It’s available for pre-order in Kindle format at Amazon now and will be available as a paperback shortly. Shattered to Whole: Devotions for Healing from Domestic Abuse.
In case you’re wondering what a book about domestic abuse has to do with chronic pain or illnesses, there is a definite link between trauma and later development of autoimmune and other illnesses, including fibromyalgia. Check out this article for more information: Are Chronic Illness and Trauma Related? Here’s What You Need to Know
Till next time, Kathy
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