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What Is Milnacipran Used For?

Milnacipran can help improve physical functioning and decrease pain in people with fibromyalgia. Since the medication has not been adequately studied in children or adolescents under the age of 17, it is not approved for this younger age group. Occasionally, healthcare providers may recommend off-label milnacipran uses, such as the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and stress incontinence.

An Overview of Milnacipran Uses

Milnacipran hydrochloride (Savella®) is a prescription medication approved for the treatment of fibromyalgia. It belongs to a class of medications known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue. People with this condition have "tender points" on the body -- in particular, the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs. These points hurt when pressure is put on them. Other fibromyalgia symptoms may include:
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Morning stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
  • Problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called "fibro fog").
Milnacipran is approved to treat fibromyalgia and is especially useful for relieving fibromyalgia pain.

How Does Milnacipran Work?

SNRIs like milnacipran affect specific chemicals within the brain known as serotonin and norepinephrine. These are two of several chemicals used to send messages from one nerve cell to another.
As a message travels down a nerve, it causes the end of the cell to release serotonin or norepinephrine. The serotonin or norepinephrine enters the gap between the first nerve cell and the one next to it. When enough reaches the second nerve cell, it activates receptors on the cell, and the message continues on its way. The first cell then quickly absorbs any serotonin or norepinephrine that remains in the gap between the cells. This is called "reuptake."
Although milnacipran is an SNRI medication, it is not entirely clear how it works for fibromyalgia pain.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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