There are various medications taken by fibromyalgia sufferers to help relieve their symptoms. One of these medications is gabapentin but is gabapentin for fibromyalgia safe?It's important to know how #Gabapentin works for #fibromyalgia including side effects and tapering off it. #beingfibromom Click To Tweet
Medications for Fibromyalgia
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but there are various ways to get relief from the daunting symptoms of fibromyalgia. There are several medicinal ways to manage symptoms such as over-the-counter and prescriptions. Some of the medications are approved by the Food Drug Administration such as Lyrica (approved in 2007), Cymbalta (approved in 2008), and Savella (approved in 2009), but there are many other medications used to treat fibromyalgia symptoms such as gabapentin for fibromyalgia.
What is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin (also known as Fanatrex, Gaborone, Gralise, and Neurontin) is in the class of medications called anticonvulsants and is commonly used to treat seizures in epileptic patients. It is also used to treat the neuropathic caused by herpes or shingles virus. According to Drugs.com, “It affects chemicals and nerves in the body that are involved in the cause of seizures and some types of pain.”
**Warning: Do not suddenly stop taking this medication.**
There are side effects to this medication (including suicidal thoughts or behavior). For those with breathing problems, gabapentin can be life-threatening.
Please consult with your physician about using this medication especially if you have:
- lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
- kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis);
- depression, a mood disorder, or suicidal thoughts or actions;
- a drug addiction
- seizure (unless you take gabapentin to treat seizures);
- liver disease;
- heart disease;
- or (for patients with RLS) if you are a day sleeper or work a night shift.
The side effects include:
- abnormal eye movements that are continuous, uncontrolled, back-and-forth, or rolling
- clumsiness or unsteadiness
- difficulty speaking
- drowsiness or tiredness
- dry mouth
More serious side effects include:
- violent behavior, aggressiveness, or anger
- anxiousness or restlessness
- anxiety that is new or worse
- depression that is new or worse
- irritability that is new or worse
- panic attacks
- suicidal thoughts or behavior
- insomnia (trouble sleeping)
Gabapentin for Fibromyalgia
As stated above, gabapentin is more commonly used to treat conditions relating to the nerves. And because fibromyalgia is known to largely affect the Central Nervous System (CNS), gabapentin is used by some physicians to treat fibromyalgia.
In November 2007 the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) performed a clinical trial of gabapentin on 150 fibromyalgia patients. The patients were given 1,200 to 2,400 mg of gabapentin for 12 weeks. Patients taking the medication reported less pain, better sleep, and less fatigue. Patients had side effects of dizziness and sedation that were mild to moderate.
But is gabapentin for fibromyalgia SAFE?
Like the other medications for fibromyalgia, gabapentin has not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms. However, as stated in the clinical trials above, some fibromyalgia patients have been prescribed this medication to calm the nerves and lower pain levels. Some patients have success but many have not been so successful.
Fibromyalgia patients have reported increased thoughts of hurting themselves, higher levels of anger, and aggressive behavior. Others have reported increased joint pain, dizziness, decreased cognitive function and memory, and the inability to sleep. In some instances of those with bipolar, gabapentin triggered a hypomanic state.
So is it safe for fibromyalgia patients? That’s up to the patient to decide and discuss it with a physician. State of mind, all current health conditions, and the drug’s side effects should be discussed in length. Patients should also discuss how to taper off the medication should it be prescribed and the patient decides to no longer take. Suddenly stopping this medication can have fatal side effects.
Before quitting a medication, please discuss this with your physician or medical provider. Suddenly stopping a medication can have dire – even fatal – effects. Most providers recommend tapering off a medication instead of quitting ‘cold turkey’. Some side effects of stopping gabapentin include:
- withdrawal symptoms such as agitation, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, sweating, or flu-like symptoms. The risks of withdrawal are higher if you’re taking high doses or have been on gabapentin for longer than 6 weeks. Withdrawal symptoms can start from 12 hours to 7 days after stopping the medication.
- status epilepticus, which is a rapid cycle of seizure activity so that an individual experiences an almost constant seizure for a period of time
- irregular heart rate
- return of nerve pain