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Ask Dr. Gott 12/14
A new option for fibromylagia?
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: For several years, I suffered from fibromyalgia and was told there was very little that could be done. My pain was constant and extreme. No pain medication seemed to work.
    Then I found a doctor who knew what to do. He said that he had been an intern for two fibromyalgia specialists, and that the antidepressant Elavil would be extremely helpful. I told him that I have never suffered from depression. He answered that it doesn't matter, since Elavil works on the symptoms anyway. He prescribed 25 milligrams (a low dose) and said that I wouldn't notice any changes at all in my symptoms for about two months. He predicted that after that time, it would suddenly occur to me that my pain was gone. Well, this is exactly what happened. That was four years ago, and the pain has not returned. I use the generic form, amitriptyline. I have told several others about this treatment, and their experiences have been the same as mine.
    Please put this letter in your column so that others will learn about this miracle drug. It disturbs me that no one seems to know about it, and it isn't even mentioned on the fibromyalgia Web site.
    DEAR READER: Fibromyalgia, a poorly understood pain disorder, is difficult to manage.     Patients with the ailment have noted significant reductions in their quality of life. I welcome the opportunity to echo your sentiments about Elavil. If, in fact, the medicine reduces the muscle pain, you should be considered for a Nobel prize. I ask that readers who try this remedy let me know whether it works, and I'll print a follow-up.
    Because fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of exclusion and a form of arthritis, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Understanding Osteoarthritis." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am an 84-year-old lady who had a mild case of chicken pox at the age of 10 and a mild case of shingles at the age of 68, verified at a local walk-in clinic. I had a few very painful lesions behind my left ear and scalp. What are the chances of my developing a case of shingles in the future? I have several friends who have suffered with miserable cases of shingles that have been long-lasting. They tell me to get the vaccine, but my physician's assistant doesn't believe that I should, saying my chances of having shingles again are so slim. What is your opinion on this matter?
    DEAR READER: To my knowledge, no one who had shingles has been studied with respect to the consequences of the vaccine. I would side with your PA; watchful waiting is appropriate until the studies show success with the vaccine. I'd wait until the vaccine has been proven to be effective in patients with histories of shingles.
    Pople over 60 with no history of shingles should consider receiving the vaccine after discussing this option with their health care providers.

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