Gabapentin & Pain Relief

By Charissa Mennell

Gabapentin is the generic name for the popular drug, Neurontin. Gabapentin is used for a variety of things including neurological disorders and symptoms, mood stabilization and pain relief. Gabapentin is typically tolerated well by most of the people who take it, and has been found to be extremely effective by many who take it. Those who use it for neuropathic pain have found it to be a beneficial alternative to cortisone injections.

Woman with pills

Gabapentin is the generic name for the popular drug, Neurontin. Gabapentin is used for a variety of things including neurological disorders and symptoms, mood stabilization and pain relief. Gabapentin is typically tolerated well by most of the people who take it, and has been found to be extremely effective by many who take it. Those who use it for neuropathic pain have found it to be a beneficial alternative to cortisone injections.

Usage

Woman with neck pain

Gabapentin is an anti-epileptic or anticonvulsant medication that affects the nervous system. Gabapentin works on the nerves and chemicals in the body that are responsible for certain types of pain and seizures. Gabapentin has also been used to stabilize mood for certain psychological disorders, though it has not been officially approved for that specific use. This was discovered because of a positive side effect as opposed to an initial purpose for the drug itself.

Pain Relief

Muscular back of young woman

When gabapentin is prescribed for pain relief, it is most typically used for nerve pain. Because gabapentin works directly with the nervous system, it is a calming or deadening agent for the nerves that cause the pain. This drug acts as barrier for the firing of nerves, and thus pain is lessened when the nerves do not fire as much. Gabapentin is frequently prescribed for those who have back injuries or disc problems, as often these cause pain shooting down the legs. Another common type of pain relief found with gabapentin is nerve pain associated with herpes and shingles.

Side Effects

Sleepy woman on couch

Gabapentin a drug that comes with various side effects, from very mild to severe. Common side effects include headache, blurry vision, dizziness, drowsiness or extreme fatigue. Some people also may experience dry mouth, nasal congestion, nausea and vomiting, or a mild rash. Severe symptoms include things such as increased seizures, swelling, tremors, rapid eye movement, confusion, chills, high fever and difficulty breathing. Gabapentin can have a drastic impact on your mood, and, in some cases, patients experienced depression and anxiety or other symptoms that present as mood disorders. All side effects should be reported to your doctor, where the two of you can determine if the side effects can be overlooked or if you need to be taken off of the medication.

Overdose

Woman feeling overwhelmed

Overdose is not unheard of with this medication, as during the trial phase of dosing, physicians tend to raise the dose quickly, and the body can be overwhelmed with the influx of the medication, especially at first. While this should be carefully monitored, some people do not realize when their doses are too high, and an overdose can result. If you believe that you or someone else has overdosed on gabapentin, seek emergency medical care immediately. Symptoms may include extremely blurred vision, extreme drowsiness, speech difficulties such as slurring words and inability to complete a sentence.

Warnings

Man reaching for medication in cabinet

It is important to follow your physician’s directions when taking this medication. If you are using this as an antiepileptic drug, you should not stop taking it without first consulting your physician, even if you are feeling better. Withdrawal symptoms from gabapentin can be detrimental to your body or psychological well-being. A serious, but relatively uncommon, side effect of gabapentin is suicidal ideation and attempts at self-harm. In May of 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration isued a warning on anti-epileptic drugs for their dangers of self-harm, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, warning patients and their physicians to keep a close watch on changes in mental behavior when taking gabapentin.

References

About the Author

Charissa Mennell has been a professional writer/editor since 2006, with a background in psychology, medicine and law. She has edited several books, including Cover Girls and Kindred, published by Blade Publishing.

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