Lyrica Offers No Relief to Those Suffering from Pain Associated with Sciatica

Lyrica Offers No Relief to Those Suffering from Pain Associated with Sciatica

By Staff

A popular drug prescribed to treat sciatica is no better than placebo, and carries twice the side effects, says a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

That popular drug is pregabalin, also known by the brand name, Lyrica.  The research study was conducted by scientists at The George Institute for Global Health

“We have seen a huge rise in the amount of prescriptions being written each year for patients suffering from sciatica,” commented Associate Professor Christine Lin from The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney.  It’s an incredibly painful and disabling condition so it’s no wonder people are desperate for relief and medicines such as pregabalin have been widely prescribed.”

“But, until now there has been no high quality evidence to help patients and doctors know whether pregabalin works for treating sciatica. Our results have shown pregabalin treatment did not relieve pain, but did cause side effects such as dizziness.”

A release from the Institute went on to say the following:

Sciatica is pain, tingling or numbness along the distribution of the sciatic nerve, most commonly caused by irritation of the nerve roots. Pain is mostly felt in the lower limbs but can be accompanied by back pain.

Since its first approval in 2004, pregabalin has become the most widely prescribed medicine for neuropathic pain globally, with worldwide sales of between $3-5 billion annually.

At any one time around 12% of the world’s population has low back pain. It is estimated that around five to 10% of people with low back pain will have sciatica.

Researchers from the Musculoskeletal Division at The George Institute undertook the study after being increasingly concerned about the rise in the use of pregabalin, limited data on its effectiveness and fears over the drug’s safety. One of the possible serious side effects is suicidal thoughts or actions. Pregabalin is used for a number of painful conditions that include neuropathic pain.

The research team at The George Institute followed 209 patients with sciatica in Sydney, Australia, who received pregabalin or a placebo capsule. After eight weeks there was no significant difference in pain intensity between the group taking pregabalin and those receiving the placebo and over one year no significant difference in the amount of days lost from work.

Despite the findings almost two thirds of patients on the study reported being very satisfied or satisfied with their drug regimen.

Associate Professor Christine Lin, of The George institute, said: “Over the course of eight weeks the levels of pain that patients experienced did decrease but the drop in pain was the same for both those taking the drug and those on placebo. It seems people associate a drop in pain being due to taking a capsule, rather than something which would happen naturally over time. GPs who are prescribing pregabalin should take note of these findings, and talk with their patients about other ways of managing and preventing pain.

“Unfortunately there are no drugs proven to work for people with sciatica and even epidural injections only provide a small benefit in the short term. What we do know is that most people with sciatica do eventually recover with time. It’s also important to avoid bed rest and to stay as active as possible.”

The team found no increase in the risk of self-harm, however the trial was not set up to detect risk of suicide so GPs are advised to exercise caution when prescribing.

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Authored by: Staff

There are 27 comments for this article
  1. connie at 12:51 am

    This shows clearly that different people respond to very different meds and/or modalities for pain relief. When one doctor put me on lyrica for various types of pain including but not limited to fibromyalgia, ddd. Reynauds, and hypersensitivaty it not only gave me zero relief but caused severe burning and pounding hip pain and permanently affected my vision! There were other side effects but those two were the huge deal breakers. That’s why it’s so difficult to treat pain and why a cookie cutter treatment will not work!

  2. Joe Vreeland at 10:13 pm

    I have badly compressed L4 & L5 with resulting sciatic pain down both legs. They were damaged in a motorcycle accident where my pelvis was also fractured and healed 1.5″ higher on the left side than the right.

    Over 20 years ago, I had the tingling of the beginning of sciatica until now I am in full-tilt sciatica with pain that constantly runs a 5 or 6. Make that a 7.

    It feels like someone is running several power drills through the bottom of my feet all the time. Alternately: my feet on fire and at the slightest suggestion of cool floors, my feet think they are freezing.

    “Hypersensitivity” is not even close enough to describe the pain and discomfort.

    I cannot put my feet into a tepid bath tub of water as they think they are being immersed in boiling water.

    My VA doctor gave me Lyrica, 200mg BID, and in less than 24 hours the peripheral neuropathy pain disappeared. Fantastic relief!

    I have to make sure that I get my next pill at exactly 12 hours after the last one – that’s a small price to pay for total pain relief.

    Now comes along my right knee replacement a month and a week ago. Knee replacement surgery is a known high pain post-surgery, and I have Tramadol, Vicadin and Lyrica to take, although the latter is not prescribed for the knee post surgery pain control. Still – it works!

    If I miss a Lyrica, the knee surgery pain climbs up to a level where I need to take a Vicadin to knock it down.

    If I stay on a perfect Lyrica regimen, I can control both the knee replacement pain and the burning feet.

    Here’s the downside: I put on 6 lbs of unwanted weight.

    Do NOT take my Lyrica away!

  3. Linda Coffman at 5:46 pm

    I suffer from chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy for the chemo drug Taxol. I was given Lyrica twice during the last seven years. This drug did not help with my pain at all and in fact made my nerves seem hyperactive. My legs would jump Constantly and that medication made me feel “drunk” I do not experience euphoric side effects from opioid but I felt that weird feeling with Lyrica. I do not drink but saying I felt drunk was the closest I could explain it. I believe patients will tell their doctor a drug is working because they are scared of being dismissed if they ask for a different treatment. Being a chronic pain patient is different than mother illnesses. You do not have to worry about being dismissed from your oncologist or neurologist but the fear of being dismissed from pain management and having to try and find another qualified doctor is scary. It is hard to get accepted into their practices and there are so few, that I believe patients under report side effects and the lack of a medication working due to the fear of dismissal.

  4. Manuel Rivkind at 5:16 pm

    My wife had severe sciatica, tried injections which didn’t help, tried pain medication which didn’t help, and then tried Lyrica which has worked 100%. Went from severe pain to no pain at all and no side effects. She worked up slowly to 150 mg of Lyrica twice a day and has been pain-free for seven or eight years on this dosage. She would probably feel suicidal without it!

  5. Steve at 8:54 pm

    buprenorphine as mentioned in one of the post above Works great on pain not FDA approved for pain in this Country but approved in other countries it’s approved in this country to get off opiates even though it’s considered an opiate . Very few side effects much easier to get off and opiates not easy finding a doctor who will take insurance for visit . Not expensive if you use to get good RX app even if you have to pay out-of-pocket

  6. Sandra at 7:57 pm

    The doctors really pushed this one. I refused to take it. Thank goodness . My husband said I better stop playing doctor. Someone has to be the doctor. Trust yourself stop believing they are god.

  7. Justin at 4:22 pm

    I’ve taken lyrica everyone has told the Dr’s it’s not of any help with pain and lord God why does people have to deal with uncontrollable severe cronic pain our government has spent our tax paying money found the meds pain meds that controls our pain but Dr’s get in trouble for trying to help sick dieased people because of drug dealers users why it’s wrong for people to have to live in pain when our country should be pain free because having meds that help go out get the meth heron dealers and stop it maybe it’s like stop people from over dosing well what’s gonna stop us sick broke down people have lived our lives working to survive now need pain meds owe no try this and this and injections till ur crippled or an lifeless what’s wrong with our government today it’s crazy

  8. Scott Tiberius at 11:55 am

    My aunt has Sciatica and has for about 20 years now and the only thing that will even touch her pain is Cannibis Oil or Marijuana itself. Fortunately we’ve had a breakthrough here in NC.

  9. David W Cole at 7:54 am

    I took Lyrica for approximately 6 years, 600 milligrams a day. Then we change the insurance company and they denied the Lyrica. I was already suffering from withdrawal symptoms from tapering due to this new recommendation that’s really a law. So I stopped taking 600 milligrams of Lyrica cold turkey on top of opiate withdrawal symptoms, I caught myself walking out the door to die, suicide was my only option. I have peripheral neuropathy. If you can avoid this crap, because it will kill you. Today are doctors work for the government and the insurance companies dictate what you can and can’t have. How many of us have to live in horrible pain or have to die because our government has decided to bunch chronic pain patients in with drug addicts. Chronic pain patients or not the problem they never have been and they never will be. All chronic pain patients must stand up and fight back write letters to the Congress, you’re Governors or Senators, file complaints with the Civil Disabilities Act whatever you can do you must. Good luck and God bless to all chronic pain patients we’re going to need it.

  10. Edna at 6:44 am

    I’ve suffered with cronic pain now for years since 95 I was injured my spine is deteriated bad my knees been busted up rt shoulder torn muscles I’ve been on pain meds for years that help then to find our government telling us because all those people out there dying from whatever well I think this will yes cause us that are in so much pain to suicide because of our pain it’s sad that our world has come to this so maybe all the worthless injections very expensive sad made me worse maybe instead of us going to hell for taking our own life our great government can just quietly give us injection and take our lives for us i believe I’d rather be dead than suffer the way we have to without medications we need

  11. Nora Bass at 5:46 am

    I have suffered with neuropathy for seven yrs. after being put on lyrica I started having seizures and it did nothing for the leg pain which was severe. I quit taking it the seizures went away. This medicine does more harm than good. So glad I went off it. After 6 months of seizures. Could have saved myself a lot of hard hard months. Never taking this medicine again.

  12. Joan Hamm at 1:52 am

    Many things you come up with do not work!!! 😢 Leave those who are I’ll who have found the opiods that eases alone!!! Trying to take away what works!! Go after the big drug dealers not innocent sick diseased people who suffer that have found proper medicines given that allows them to contribute to Society. Don’t murder people by interfering with those who have found help responsibly!!! Recognize worldwide RSD CRPS as a top suffering pain disease! Educate Doctors.. Hospitals etc. NOW!!!

  13. Kelly Devine at 9:28 pm

    I was on that drug and I will tell you I obsessed with suicide! I’ve been off it 2 yrs and I no longer obsess over taking my own life but what I have found is skullcap is the only plant I have found that addresses nerve pain not only sciatica but never pain associated with fibro. PLEASE RESEARCH SKULLCAP!

  14. Lisa Etheridge at 9:11 pm

    I have CRPS in both my feet & chronic back pain & sciatica as well, I was prescribed Lyrica & my feet swelled up huge I couldn’t get an appt to get back into pain management was told to go to ER went there paid my $200 copay & they gave me a morphine shot & sent me home by Mon my feet were even larger & turning blue my mom came & got me & took me to pain management without an appt well they were nasty & said to go to ER well my mom got nasty back told them I had been there & we weren’t leaving till someone looked at my foot. Finally was called back Dr took one look & said why didn’t you come in sooner well we told him everything he wasn’t happy. But he said I must be allergic to Lyrica.

  15. ANNETTE at 8:47 pm

    I PERSONALLY HAVE BEEN IN CHIROPRACTIC THERAPY FOR 4 YRS NOW. ..I HAD NO INSURANCE THAT WOULD COVER MRI. .CAT SCAN ETC. ..NO DR WOULD CONSIDER HELPING ME UNLESS HAD 500.00 PAYMENT UP FRONT. ….WELL I TRULY NEEDED JUST X-RAYS TO KNOW THAT I WAS FIXABLE. ..HAVING BEING A WORK HORSE SELF SURVIVOR WOMAN ALL MY LIFE WELP MY SPINE WAS A MESS. .. SOMEONE MENTIONED CHIROPRACTOR …I GAVE MY ILLNESS TO GOD ALMIGHTY FIRST THEN FIRST DR CALLED GUARANTEED HE’S MY GUARDIAN ANGEL FOR HEALING. .. DR BRANDON HOLLENBERG IN GLEN BURNIE MD HAS HEALING HANDS ….IT’S DEFINITELY BEEN A LONG STRUGGLING VENTURE BUT NO PAIN MEDS. NO SURGERY. .OF COURSE I’LL HAVE SPINAL CORD DAMAGE FOR LIFE BUT I’M MOVING. WALKING. FLEXIBLE. ETC. …..THERE FINDING THE SO CALLED MAGIC PILLS GIVEN NOW ARE EXTREMELY HARMFUL IF NOT PERMANENT ORGANS DAMAGE. …PLEASE TRY NATURAL REMEDIES AND NATURAL CERTAIN VITAMINS AND MINERALS PLUS DIET BEFORE HAVING MORE ISSUES THAN EVER EXPECTED. …..

  16. James at 7:50 pm

    Hello good people. I am dealing with bad chronic lumbar pain. I had 2 surgeries plus over a dozen esi injections. As my l4 has improved, my S1 disc and nerve has deteriorated considerably. I take a few meds including minimal low dose pain meds .however, the pain has increased and meds are imperative. I will have to increase my meds now as I need a surgery to fix my s1 disc. Medication is mandatory at this time. I have consistently requested a reduction of pain meds until now it’s just obvious that an increase is warranted. I will insist a reduction within a month if surgery is successful. It’s not about receiving meds. It’s about improving your condition. I wouldn’t take anything if it were up to me.its just when the pain is unbearable each day meds must be taken. I ‘ve never had any withdrawal issues thank God. I had a knee operation b4 my back became an issue. I was on meds for several months then stopped for six weeks with no issues. I started again when I needed a spine operation. Nightmare after that. Lol. So my advice is honesty and logic. Be honest and the proper treatments you receive will work out. The facts and honesty will win out .unless you get the wrong doctor. If that happens get a second opinion. I’m a a grown man I’m my mid 50s what you see is what you get. Good luck all.

  17. cindy deim at 5:09 pm

    All Lyrica did for me was make me gain weight.

  18. Kathy C at 4:40 pm

    They sure marketed the heck out of it though. They gave this out like candy for all kinds of Pain. We should be catching on here soon. So much of the stuff, they marketed and made billions off of was no better than Snake Oil. Big Pharma won’t be disseminating this information as long as there is a buck to be made. We are seeign the same thing with Diabetes medications, those Statins and other Cardio Vascular drugs, blood pressure Medications, Devices and surgical procedures.
    We stupidly thought the FDA or CDC would Step in, if not to protect our health, maybe all of the Tax payer funded Healthcare, or the Consumers. Our Government has been taken over by Snake Oil Salesmen and “Businessmen.” Billions of dollars have been spent on dangerous or ineffective drugs, yet not one Politician, Scientist or anyone has spoken up. We have been sold a Lie. One of our Paid for Politicians had the audacity to claim the problem with Healthcare is “Tort Reform’, some Industry Ghoul, clearly thought that they could avoid any kind of minimal accountability.
    These Pharmaceutical Companies have destroyed lives, gutted our Healthcare system, and avoided any Regulation or oversight. Thye even managed to make it virtually impossible to track the destruction. Physicians are not even required to report, acknowledge or mention Side Effects or Adverse interactions. They eviscerated every Regulatory Agency, bought out Academia, paid off and “educated” our elected Representatives They are more concerned with this billionaire criminals than any of their Constituents. This is the fact free Healthcare System. This was just more profitable. Just as long as we don’t count the dead, or the cost of the damaged. No better than Placebo, now our Innovative “System” is marketing Placebos! No wonder the the US is behind every other developed nation, in healthcare outcomes, behind Kazakhstan.

  19. Burning Up at 3:15 pm

    Knew from the get-go that this medication would have problems. The side effects were horrible (weight gain, tingling, drowsiness, sedating, depressive…) and it did not reduce my pain one bit. It is expensive and overly marketed. Glad I discontinued it when I did. I would not recommend this medication to anyone for any reason. So far, buprenorphine 2 mg is the best med I’ve tried for severe neuropathy, chronic pain, CRPS and sciatic nerve injury pain. The manufacturers of Lyrica should really stop advertising this drug and the side effects should be very clear. In fact, they should be required to advertise alternative meds so less educated patients are made aware of the options available to them! I see Lyrica advertised on TV, nearly every magazines, etc. It’s a terrible product in my opinion.

  20. Jean Price at 2:10 pm

    Some points made in this article don’t make much sense to me! The first one being…in the study referenced, about two thirds of the patients reporting being satisfied with their care?!! How can this be, if the medication isn’t releiving their pain any more than placebo would!? The second was the fact this study was undertaken due to the big increase in prescribing this medication and concern for the dangerous side effects….YET the study wasn’t set up to even address this, or to look at increased rates of suicides…which would be the worst of the side effects, in my opinion?! So what does any of this really mean? I seriously doubt if this information will do more than merely affirm TO US what many people with pain already know…which is, these more risky, more expensive medications now even more widely and more routinely prescribed DO NOT work as well for pain versus what has been used effectively for years…the various opioids, USED PRUDENTLY, choosing the lowest type and the lowest therapeutic dosages possible to actually achieve more function and better quality of life! Not that this matters anymore…since no one in health care is LISTENING! Ugh!! Not at all sure why I’m even commenting here, hardly worth my effort!

  21. connie at 12:42 pm

    Heaven forbid that we use a drug that works at an appropriate and effective dose! I feel that using an opiate at a dose that is less than effective makes the chance of addiction much greater!

  22. Mark Ibsen at 10:40 am

    Thank you for this report, confirming my findings that people get very little benefit from the off label use of Lyrica.
    Most folks don’t even know why they are on it,
    And
    Have been told it is safe.
    Good news: it is replaceable with cannabis, which actually helps pain, without risks of weight gain, memory loss, suicide.

  23. Laura P Schulman at 7:58 am

    I’m very glad to see this study.

    I have severe degenerative spine disease, spanning over three decades, with crippling pain from my neck to my sacrum. I’ve been denied meaningful pain treatment, instead being forced into endless cycles of useless (and dangerous) injections and drugs such as gabapentin, which I dutifully swallowed for four years, until the side effects caused so many falls due to loss of balance that I finally stopped taking them.

    I wish I had stopped a couple of years earlier. I would not be facing multiple surgeries to try to repair the damage to my joints sustained in falls caused by gabapentin.

  24. Jess at 7:22 am

    If it helps you thats wonderful. Didn’t help none of my pain! Though I don’t have sciatica issues , I was given this drug on 3 different occasions since 2007 & I had suicidal thoughts & rapid weight gain. After stopping my weight stayed the same & didn’t have suicidal thoughts when ending the medication. Having a hard time losing the weight!

    Anyone else have weight gain while using Lyrica? I gained 40lbs.

    I have Chronic pain syndrome from a spinal fusion , nerve damage , fibro , osteoarthritis in back , hips & knee, DDD, plus 2 new herniated disc. Blah , blah blah.. etc.

  25. Jay at 6:13 am

    Thank you for the report. I was prescribed Lyrica for Sciatica and Neuropathic pain. I took it for a couple of weeks and had significant swelling in my hands, feet and legs to the point of it being difficult to walk or grasp things. It also gave me upset stomach. I was recently prescribed Cymbalta for the same condition and after just two doses, I discontinued use due to chest pain and heart palpitations that were downright scary. Physicians seem to want to prescribe just about anything besides pain medication that actually help with the pain, even though there are side effects with those types as well.

  26. Tim Mason at 5:01 am

    Lyrica is (was) intended for the “pins and needles” pain in the feet associated with diabetic neuropathy.
    An Rx for Lyrica I would be prescribed just to “get the patient out the door”. IMO

  27. Michael T. Fogarty at 3:31 am

    “Unfortunately there are no drugs proven to work for people with sciatica ”

    It might be more accurate to say “Other than high dose Opioids, there are no drugs proven to work for people with sciatica.”

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