Gabapentin is a prescription medication that has proven to be highly effective in the treatment of various medical conditions. Primarily prescribed as an adjunct therapy for epilepsy, gabapentin works in conjunction with other medications to control certain types of seizures.
Additionally, this versatile drug is also utilized for managing the pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) – a persistent, often debilitating condition that follows a shingles outbreak.
Moreover, gabapentin extended-release tablets, marketed as Horizant, have demonstrated remarkable efficacy in alleviating the discomfort and restlessness associated with restless legs syndrome (RLS).
The Role of Gabapentin
Gabapentin belongs to a class of medications known as anticonvulsants. It was initially developed to treat epilepsy by modulating the activity of certain neurotransmitters. However, researchers discovered that gabapentin also possessed analgesic properties, particularly in the context of neuropathic pain.
Gabapentin’s exact mechanism of action is not fully understood, but it is believed to work through several interrelated processes. Primarily, it affects the way nerve cells communicate and transmit pain signals.
- Calcium Channels: Gabapentin interacts with voltage-gated calcium channels, which are essential for neurotransmitter release. By binding to specific subunits of these channels, gabapentin reduces the influx of calcium ions into the nerve cells. This decrease in calcium entry attenuates the release of neurotransmitters involved in pain signaling, such as glutamate and substance P.
- GABAergic System: Gabapentin also interacts with the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system, which is responsible for inhibitory neurotransmission. It enhances the synthesis and release of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, increasing its concentration in the synaptic cleft. This augmented GABAergic activity may help dampen the excitability of overactive neurons, thus alleviating neuropathic pain.
- Glutamate Release: Gabapentin may indirectly affect the release of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter involved in pain signaling. By modulating the release of glutamate, gabapentin further helps regulate neuronal activity and reduce the transmission of pain signals in the central nervous system.
- Neuroplasticity: Neuropathic pain often involves alterations in the plasticity of the nervous system. Gabapentin appears to have a modulatory effect on neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself in response to injury or changes in the environment. By influencing the plasticity of neural circuits involved in pain perception, gabapentin may help mitigate the hypersensitivity associated with neuropathic pain.
Gabapentin ruined my life is an expression frequently used by many users who have experienced the negative effects of this medication. Some of those stories will be shared in this article.
How Gabapentin Ruined My Life
Here are the revised life stories:
Tom G: Tom G shared his experience with gabapentin, which was prescribed to him for sciatica pain resulting from a herniated disc in his right leg. After taking his first dose, he experienced some unusual sensations. Within a couple of hours, he felt tingling and electric shocks in his left arm, although not painful, it was rather peculiar. He also noticed scattered thoughts and difficulty concentrating. Concerned about the distressing thoughts, he asked his husband to be with him. The following day, he woke up unable to move his left arm, accompanied by excruciating shoulder pain. Despite the thoughts subsiding, the painful shoulder continued to trouble him even after a week, and he hoped for relief as soon as possible. To his dismay, he now experienced serious pain on both sides of his body.
Dae: Dae expressed her discontent with gabapentin, sharing her experience as a person with idiopathic intracranial hypertension. She took gabapentin for three weeks, and during this time, she encountered various distressing side effects. Insomnia worsened, causing further sleep deprivation due to pre-existing pain. Additionally, she experienced increased nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. She suffered from intense stomach cramps and noticed her thoughts racing incessantly while feeling lethargic most of the time. Her hands trembled, making precision movements difficult, and she even struggled to write properly. Shaky legs made it challenging to maintain balance, exacerbating her existing balance issues. Moreover, she experienced frequent fainting episodes and involuntary eye movements, causing disorientation and dizziness.
Nurse: A nurse shared her personal account of taking gabapentin for neuropathy, despite having anxiety and depression well managed with Cymbalta. Initially, gabapentin provided relief for localized pain, but as the dosage increased, she started experiencing side effects. Taking the medication in the evening with food did not prevent her from sleeping excessively for 14-17 hours. She also encountered memory difficulties and experienced impaired cognitive function. The daytime use of gabapentin did not work for her due to a lack of tolerance. As a result, she became depressed and anxious, feeling as though she lost weeks of her life. Additionally, she developed an uncomfortable sensation in her feet, akin to walking on sandpaper. She emphasized her clean lifestyle, devoid of recreational drugs, smoking, or narcotic abuse, with only occasional alcohol consumption.
Horrible Experience: Another individual shared a harrowing experience after initiating gabapentin at a dose of 400 mg. Shortly after starting the medication, their feet and hands swelled, and their pain intensified twofold. Strangely, without any prior knowledge of side effects, they began giving away possessions and lost interest in things they previously cared about. They decided to discontinue the drug independently, but the swelling in their feet persisted, causing severe disability. Their quality of life plummeted from already challenging to an unbearable state.
Sim: Sim, who suffers from fibromyalgia and severe muscle pain due to a twisted spine and congenitally deformed vertebrae, shared their encounter with gabapentin. Initially, the medication dulled the pain and made them feel lightheaded, but they experienced memory issues. However, their anxiety worsened, and the pain persisted, leading them to hit a low point. They spent two weeks in a psychiatric ward until they encountered a compassionate psychiatric nurse who believed in treating muscle pain. They are now on a recovery journey with a combination of Robaxin, a muscle relaxer, a low dose of Valium for rib spasms, and medications like Prozac and Remeron for sleep. Their hope is to eventually discontinue all medications once they can resume exercise. Interestingly, they experienced a similar reaction to Lyrica four years prior.
Please note that these stories have been edited and revised for clarity and coherence while retaining the essence of the original experiences shared by the individuals.
How to take gabapentin
Gabapentin is available in different forms, including capsules, tablets, extended-release tablets, and oral solution. It is taken orally, with specific dosage instructions depending on the condition being treated. Here is the revised information:
Gabapentin is administered orally, and the dosage instructions vary based on the formulation:
- Capsules, Tablets, and Oral Solutions: Take gabapentin capsules, tablets, or oral solutions by mouth with a full glass of water (8 ounces or 240 milliliters), either with or without food. The usual frequency is three times a day.
For nerve pain from shingles, the recommended starting dose is 300 mg orally on the first day, followed by 600 mg (300 mg twice a day) on the second day, and then 900 mg (300 mg three times a day) on the third day. The dosage may be adjusted based on the balance between pain relief and side effects. The maximum total daily dose should not exceed 1800 mg.
- Extended-Release Tablets (Horizant): The extended-release tablet is taken once daily with food, usually around 5 PM.
For the treatment of partial seizures:
- Adults (12 years and older): The starting dose is 300 mg orally three times a day, which can be increased up to a maximum of 3600 mg per day.
- Children (3-11 years of age): The initial dose is weight-dependent, typically ranging from 10 mg/kg to 15 mg/kg orally per day, divided into three doses throughout the day. The dosage will be gradually increased over the following three days until the recommended dose, based on the child’s age and weight, is reached.
It is important to take gabapentin at evenly spaced intervals throughout the day and night, with no more than 12 hours between doses. Carefully follow the directions on your prescription label and seek clarification from your doctor or pharmacist regarding any unclear instructions. Take gabapentin exactly as directed by your doctor and do not exceed the prescribed dosage or frequency.
Side Effects of Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is associated with various side effects, some of which are more common than others. Below, you will find a list of the more common side effects:
- Viral infection
- Nausea and vomiting
- Trouble speaking
- Jerky movements
In the event of serious side effects, it is important to contact your doctor immediately. If you believe your symptoms are life-threatening or if you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911. Serious side effects and their accompanying symptoms may include:
Changes in mood or anxiety, which can manifest as:
- Thoughts of suicide or dying
- Suicide attempts
- Worsening or new-onset anxiety
- Worsening or new-onset crankiness
- Panic attacks
- Difficulty sleeping
- Aggressive or violent behavior
- Excessive increase in activity and talking
- Unusual changes in behavior or mood
Changes in behavior and thinking, particularly in children aged 3 to 12 years, which may involve:
- Emotional changes
- Concentration difficulties
- Changes in school performance
- Hyperactive behavior
Serious and life-threatening allergic reactions, which can present with symptoms such as:
- Skin rashes
- Persistent swollen glands
- Swollen lips and tongue
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Severe fatigue or weakness
- Unexpected muscle pain
- Frequent infections
It is possible for gabapentin to cause other side effects not listed here. If you experience any unusual problems while taking this medication, contact your doctor.
How Long Does Gabapentin Take To Heal Nerve Pain?
The time it takes for gabapentin to alleviate nerve pain can vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience relief within a few days, while others may require several weeks of treatment before noticing significant improvement. It’s important to note that gabapentin may not completely eliminate all symptoms but can help reduce the intensity and frequency of nerve pain.
What Happens If You Miss a Dose of Gabapentin?
If you accidentally miss a dose of gabapentin, it is generally recommended to take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is close to the time for your next scheduled dose, it is advisable to skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Taking a double dose to make up for a missed dose is not recommended, as it can increase the risk of experiencing side effects.