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How Effective Is Gabapentin for Pain?

Stopping gabapentin can cause excessive drowsiness and other withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal from gabapentin may cause chest pain.
Taking gabapentin for pain can cause a person to experience side effects, but the benefits may outweigh the side effects for many people with chronic pain.
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  • Written By: Valerie Goldberg
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2014
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Gabapentin is a medication sometimes prescribed to people who have epileptic seizures. This drug also can be used to treat chronic pain, specifically neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is often described as a very sharp, shooting type of pain that stems from a problem with the central nervous system. Using gabapentin for pain is just one of many options available to chronic pain patients. A person's success level when it comes to using gabapentin for pain relief can depend on the type of medical condition causing the pain and other treatments he or she is undergoing.

Patients suffering from conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and shingles may have success with taking gabapentin for pain treatment. Some people may be prescribed gabapentin as their sole form of pain treatment, while others may take this medication in conjunction with narcotic pain relievers. Gabapentin typically is given to those suffering from a life-long illness involving pain and is not an optimal pain treatment for short-term problems such as a broken bone.

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This medication needs time to build up in the body and is not an overnight pain solution. A patient should not stop taking gabapentin abruptly just because he or she is not experiencing immediate positive results. A person who is concerned about whether gabapentin is helping his or her pain should consult a doctor. If a patient who quits taking gabapentin does not do so properly, then he or she may experience withdrawal symptoms such as chest pain, insomnia and extreme anxiety.

Taking gabapentin for pain can cause a person to experience side effects, but the benefits may outweigh the side effects for many people with chronic pain. Some possible side effects include dry mouth, fatigue, nausea and dizziness. It is important for patients to tell their doctors about all other medications they are taking, as well as their alcohol consumption habits, to avoid the possibility of making some of the side effects worse.

Typical doses of gabapentin for pain relief range from 100 mg to upwards of 1800 mg a day. It is not typical for a person to begin taking high dosages of gabapentin for pain right from the start. Most doctors will instead have patients start out taking a rather low dose of the medicine and work their way up to high dosages based on personal needs. Taken properly, gabapentin can help relieve some of the debilitating burning, shooting and tingling pain patients experience so they can lead happier and more productive lives.

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anon964673
Post 5

Gabapentin is a lifesaver for me as well, and I truly mean that I would have committed suicide rather than live with the pain I have. It gets rid of 80-90 percent of my upper back/shoulder/neck pain.

I was injured at work, had 3 discs removed, 2 levels fused, bone dowels, etc. The pain I have now is nerve and muscle pain. Since I live in Appalachia and the good docs here are terrified of giving out narcotics, I cannot get a scrip for vicodin or percocet.

I was on 5 mg oxy once per day plus gabapentin (for four years) but my pain doc cut off pain meds. All I have is gabapentin now and amrix. I have to live with it. I have no other option. Many days I am crying and sit in my massage chair for hours. I haven't had any pain meds for over six months. I had to cut back on work due to the pain, but life goes on. Gabapentin works well, not as well as Oxycodone, but close.

bluedolphin
Post 4

@ZipLine-- Gabapentin is great for nerve pain. I have pain due to neuropathy and gabapentin has been a life saver for me.

It does take time for the medication to work though and you might need to increase the dose until it works. I started seeing the effects of gabapentin after a week. I started at a low dose and my doctor increased the dose every month until I had complete pain relief. So it requires some patience to see results, but it's worth it. Ask your doctor about gabapentin and don't increase the dose on your own. Let your doctor handle it.

ZipLine
Post 3

What type of pain is gabapentin effective for? The article mentioned that it's effective for multiple sclerosis pain. Will it work for other types of nerve pain as well?

bear78
Post 2

I'm taking gabpentin for pain caused by fibromyalgia. It works relatively well. I'm not entirely pain-free yet, but my doctor will probably be increasing my dose in the near future. I do feel better than I did before taking the medication though. I just wish that it had less side effects. It's making me drowsy and I get dizzy sometimes.

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