The Trouble with Lyrica and Gabapentin and What to Do Instead

The Trouble with Lyrica and Gabapentin and What to Do Instead

Lyrica and gabapentin are being increasingly prescribed for many chronic pain conditions, in part because of concerns about opioids. However, these medications have serious side effects of their own and they are not very effective. There are better alternatives.

What the research says about Lyrica and Gabapentin

Lyrica (pregabalin) and gabapentin (Neurontin) are in a class of drugs called gabapentinoids. The FDA has approved gabapentin only for the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia (post-shingles pain) and pregabalin for postherpetic neuralgia, fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain associated with diabetes or spinal cord injuries. However, both are frequently prescribed for all kinds of pain, including sciatica, back pain, burn injury and arthritis, despite the lack of evidence that they are effective for those conditions.

Prescriptions for gabapentinoids have tripled in the last 15 years and they are among the best selling, highest grossing drugs in the U.S. However, many concerns are being raised about their use. There have been a total of 426,000 adverse event reports to the FDA about gabapentin between 2004 and June 2015, of which 50,000 were reports involving death and over 150,000 involved hospitalization. For Lyrica, there have been 335,855 adverse event reports during the same time period, with about 23,000 involving death and about 90,000 involving hospitalization. It is generally accepted that since most adverse event reporting is voluntary, only about 1% of less serious side effects and only about 10% of serious side effects are reported.

A study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in June 2019 found that “gabapentinoids are associated with an increased risk of suicidal behaviour, unintentional overdoses, head/body injuries, and road traffic incidents and offences. Pregabalin was associated with higher hazards of these outcomes than gabapentin”. Another serious concern is that gabapentinoids may block new synapse formation in the brain. This may be the reason for the frequent reports of impaired cognitive performance by patients taking these drugs.

Other commonly reported side effects include dizziness, sleepiness, balance problems, blurred vision, coordination problems, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, increased pain (including pain in extremities, back pain and joint pain), depression, anxiety and insomnia.

What patients report about Lyrica and Gabapentin

A 2014 survey by the National Pain Report of patients with fibromyalgia found Lyrica to be “very effective” in only 10% of patients. Another 29% reported that it “helps a little”.

Patient reports on askapatient.com are mostly very negative, with many reporting horrible side effects that didn’t always remit when they stopped taking gabapentinoids. Those who tried to stop the medications reported that the withdrawal was very severe.

Cindy Perlin

Here are a few patient reports from askapatient.com:

From a 30 year old male prescribed Lyrica for fibromyalgia:

Bad initial side effects when I started in 2012, extreme headaches, can still remember them clearly and extreme fatigue, I would literally sleep for 20 hours and wake up for an hour and then start the process again, this went on for months and no one knew what was wrong with me. So going forward to 2019, I have had 29 surgery’s since then, abscess all over my body, head to toe and only after recently watching a documentary about junkies, it’s the same as what junkies and meth heads get. I have been trying to get off this medication for about a year now and am down to the final 150mg, however even doing withdrawal over this period is a waste of time as when you get to the final 150mg, all the symptoms start again and it’s a bad balancing game Don’t take unless you’re happy to be on it for life with horrible side effects … I look like the elephant man some days, I haven’t had a normal life in years…. I wouldn’t be as pissed off if I hadn’t had a single abscess until I started taking the Pregabalin, not one doctor to this date has put two and two together…. I have had a few significant mental breakdowns and again nothing before the pregabaline use.

From a 38 year old female prescribed Lyrica for fibromyalgia:

Side effects included burning pain, pins and needles, blurred vision, feeling too high to drive, constipation, manic, rash. Stopping this drug has given me unbelievable pain. Involuntary muscle movements, pins and needles and buzzing, weakness, brain zaps, spasms, twitches, and more. I took my last pill 10 days ago and it’s still going on. Couldn’t get out of bed for 4 days. Pure poison.

From a 43 year old female taking Lyrica for L4, L5, SI injury and nerve pain:

Side effects included leg swelling, dizziness, headaches, aggression, extreme nerve pain if I was late taking the med. This stuff is the devil. And coming off of it was worse than being on it.

From a 61 year old female prescribed gabapentin for fibromyalgia:

Exacerbated my fibromyalgia pain, extremely exhausted all the time, extreme dry mouth and throat (which affected my vocal chords), severe depression and lethargy, poor memory, heart palpitations, could not walk any significant distance. This is a very dangerous medication and doctors do not recognize the side effects and tend to prescribe additional meds to ease symptoms.

Read more patient reports about these and other drugs at askapatient.com.

There are safer, more effective alternatives to Lyrica and gabapentin

Warning!!! If you are currently taking these drugs, do not stop abruptly! It can be life-threatening. Taper slowly under a doctor’s supervision. Experts recommend no more than a 10% reduction per month.

Medical marijuana

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Marijuana grows wild in all but the coldest climates around the world and has been in medicinal use for at least 5000 years. Marijuana was widely used in pharmaceuticals in the U.S. until 1941, when it was banned. Not a single death has ever been attributed to marijuana use. There are minimal side effects and those tend to be mild and transitory, though caution is advised in use of those under 21 years of age and pregnant women due to concerns about effects on brain development.

The most common condition for which marijuana is used medically is chronic pain, including neuropathy, fibromyalgia and back pain. Minimal research has been done in the U.S. due to severe federal restrictions, however what research there is indicates that marijuana does reduce pain. In the National Pain Report survey of fibromyalgia patients referenced above, 62% of patients said marijuana was very effective in treating their symptoms and 33% said it helped a little. A survey of 100 consecutive medical marijuana patients who were returning for their annual recertification in Hawaii found that 97% used marijuana primarily for relief of chronic pain. They reported an average 64% decrease in pain—a decrease on a 10-point pain scale from 7.8 to 2.8.

Marijuana also helps with insomnia, anxiety and seizure disorders. It also helps minimize opioid withdrawal symptoms and some states have approved it for treating opioid use disorder. Some patients also report that marijuana has helped them with withdrawal from gabapentinoids, though a slow taper is still necessary.

You don’t have to smoke marijuana or get high in order to get pain relief. Besides smoking, marijuana can be taken in edibles, used as an oral tincture or used in topical preparations. It can also be vaped, a process of heating the marijuana just enough to release the vapors but not enough to burn the leaves. Vaping thus reduces the irritants that are inhaled. Marijuana also comes in many strains, with varying amounts of the psychoactive ingredient, THC, that produces the high. It is possible to get a marijuana strain that is low enough THC that it has pain-relieving effects without producing a high.

CBD (Cannabidiol)

CBD is one of the compounds found in marijuana. It is also found in hemp, which, like marijuana, is a member of the cannabis species of plants. Hemp does not contain THC and CBD products are derived from hemp rather than marijuana. They are federally legal in all states.

CBD and other compounds found in the hemp plant, including flavonoids and terpenes, have pain-relieving qualities and many patients find they get adequate pain relief from using them. Using CBD without the THC has even fewer side effects. Many experts believe, however, that THC and CBD in combination yield the best pain-relieving effects because the synergy of the two is better than either alone.

Kratom

Kratom was until recently a little-known herb that is grown in Southeast Asia. It has been used medicinally in Asia for hundreds of years. It is rapidly gaining in popularity among pain patients in the U.S. who are interested in alternatives to pharmaceuticals.

Kratom is even less researched than marijuana. It has many similar effects. These include pain relief, anxiety reduction, help with sleep and help with opioid withdrawal. Some patients also report that Kratom helps with withdrawal from gabapentinoids.

Kratom is much less expensive than marijuana and also less palatable. It is usually taken orally and has a bitter taste. Kratom, like marijuana, comes in different strains. Some strains are more stimulating and are used early in the day to boost energy. Others are more sedating and used later in the day for relaxation and sleep.

The FDA is currently trying to ban kratom on the basis that it is highly addictive and has caused a few dozen deaths. Kratom is actually a member of the coffee family and experts have stated that it is no more addictive than caffeine. All of the people who have died with kratom in their system also had other drugs in their system that could have caused the death, including opioids. The FDA’s most recent efforts to end access to kratom included trying to convince the Indonesian government to ban export of kratom. 95% of the kratom available in the U.S. comes from Indonesia.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy is another little known and vastly underutilized therapy for chronic pain. Homeopathy is a system of medicine developed in 1827 by a German physician, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. It was wildly popular in the U.S. until it was quashed by pharmaceutical company interests in the early 1900s. At the time there were 44 homeopathic medical schools and more than 100 homeopathic hospitals in the United States. Homeopathy remains popular in Europe, though there have been recent attempts to end its practice there.

Homeopathy is based on the principle that “like cures like.” This means that any substance capable of producing symptoms in a healthy person can cure similar symptoms in a person who is sick. This idea is referred to as the “law of similars.”

A second homeopathy principle is that you should administer the least amount of medicine necessary to evoke a healing response. This is called the “minimum dose.” To prevent side effects, Hahnemann began successive dilution with shaking his medicines to find the point at which they would be therapeutic but not toxic. He also discovered that in many situations the best cure was achieved by the highest possible dilution. Homeopathic remedies can be taken orally or used in topical ointments.

Homeopathy has been controversial partly because homeopathic medicines in high potencies are so diluted that theoretically there should be no measurable remnants of the starting materials left. In a 2010 study, researchers demonstrated for the first time the presence of nanoparticles of the original substance in these extreme homeopathic dilutions.

Ideally, homeopathic remedies are chosen with the help of a trained practitioner, who looks at the presenting symptoms from a holistic perspective. However, many patients use homeopathic remedies successfully to address specific symptoms. Some homeopathic remedies commonly used for pain are arnica montana for muscle soreness and bruises, hypericum for nerve pain and ruta graveolens for inflammation, strains and sprains. A common potency is 30x.

There are also homeopathic creams and ointments, such as Traumeel, a combination remedy, for topical pain relief.

Since homeopathic remedies are not toxic, it is safe to try them on your own. I have used them for decades with good results as a substitute for NSAIDs, which have safety risks of their own. They are very inexpensive, another plus.

VoxxLife Socks and Insoles

Another novel and little-known treatment that helps with neuropathy and fibromyalgia is VoxxLife Socks and insoles. These have a pattern that stimulates neuropoints on the ball of the foot that affect the mid-brain, increasing balance, stability, strength, range of motion, flexibility and mobility. Their website contains many video testimonials of pain patients who have benefitted from their use.

There is so much more

There are so many other therapies that safely and effectively help with fibromyalgia, neuropathy and other types of chronic pain. These include acupuncture, biofeedback, physical therapy, massage, mind/body medicine, pulsed EMF, low level laser therapy, and more. You can find out about all of these therapies and find providers and products on the Alternative Pain Treatment Directory.

Cindy Perlin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and chronic pain survivor. She is the founder of the Alternative Pain Treatment Directory and the author of The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free.

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Authored by: Cindy Perlin, LCSW

Cindy Perlin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and chronic pain survivor. She is the founder of the Alternative Pain Treatment Directory and the author of The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free.

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Thanks to everyone who has commented on my article. As noted in the article, a minority of Lyrica and Gabapentin users have good results. Others have horrendous side effects. I mentioned a few potentially less harmful and potentially more effective alternatives in my article. There are many more. To list them all would take a book–which, incidentally, I wrote three years ago (see link above). While that book is a fairly comprehensive overview of available pain treatments, since I wrote the book I’ve learned so much more. I believe the real innovations in safer pain care are the devices that have been developed that work with the body’s electrical/energy systems. I’ll be writing a blog on that soon for my website. If you want to be sure you see that article and others from me and my guest authors please sign up for my newsletter at https://www.paintreatmentdirectory.com/sign-up-for-our-newsletter.

We were disappointed not to see Calmare scrambler therapy listed as a drug-free alternative to treat chronic pain, but shared this article regardless, as the bigger message about these two drugs is important to share; we see the same in many patients we treat. Dr. Michael Cooney, Clinical Director, Calmare Therapy NJ USA

lissa Baker

I cannot believe you advocate Kratom.. kids get addicted and die ! Weed also impairs cognitive function way worse than gabapentin. I know this because I take both. Gabapentin takes at min. 30 days for your body to adjust, its NOT easy but it helps reduce my pain agmented with other meds.

As for weed well it helps me for sleep not pain.
To reduce anxiety I encourage all to take a mindfullness meditation class and read full catastrophe living. It really does help.
All of these modalities take time, it is not instanteous and everyone is different

Rosalind Rivera

I am a chronic and intractable pain patient that is also suffering tremendously since the pain meds reduction in dosages and cutbacks. I’ve taken Lyrica in the past also with negative side effects. I also presently take Gabapentin for nerve pain due to Spinal Stenosis and have been taking it for years. I’ve had ongoing headaches and dizzy spells for hears and the headaches especially are debilitating, especially since no matter what headache meds I take that ease my headaches for perhaps 20 minutes and then they’re right back. I am a researcher. I don’t know this slipped through my fingers, but it did. I will now, stop taking the Gabapentin and speak to my Rheumatologist about it. Thanks for the heads up! It’s a well known fact that one medication has side effects for which one is prescribed another medication which causes side effects for which yet another medication is prescribed and so on and so on….. Where does it end? It doesn’t! That’s where the money is!

Laurie

Allow me to say to the class that homeopathy has worked for both me and my cats in the past and even now with stopping the diarrhea from forced, abrupt withdrawal of all treatment for my Dystonia.
I’ve treated many kitties who were sick and in pain with this stuff. They don’t know from placebo! And they got better almost immediately.
Thinking something is bunk is just as much of placebo as having an open and willingness to try something not advocated by our big PhARMA docs, who poo-poo anything they don’t know anything about.
I tried to stay healthy all my life, to avoid entanglement with Western Allopathic medicine, but what can a person do with a genetic abnormality?
I use a lower titration with one compound and a higher with another.
Strangely, the one that works best for me and my cats is Hyland’s compounds.

I know I probably sound like an ad, but this stuff carries no risk or side effects. It’s the gentlest treatment I’ve ever used and that’s a + with animals who are way more sensitive and prone to bad reactions from meds.

Maybe it doesn’t work for some, but it sure does for me! although I’ve never tried it for pain.Maybe I should
Every body is different and I read a paper on the highest titration that still found nano-particles in the fluid…so, yes the stuff is still there.
We American always think more is better. I think, with the awful state our planet is in, we ought to adjust our thinking a…lot and FAST!

Debbie

I believe any drug will have a portion of people who have side effects from it. I have taken both of these for chronic, severe, high impact neuropathy for years, long before Lyrica came to market.

They are one tool in my toolbox, and both help at different levels. They both stop or dull the electrical shock pain that arises from my toes and thighs. This pain is chronic and severe and wakes me from a dead sleep.

Lyrica was way to expensive to purchase, so I switched to generic Neurotin. Lyrica does work better for me, but the expense was not worth the difference in relief. Now, I’m looking forward to trying the generic version.

Every drug has side effects, and both these make me a little drowsy for a few days, then I’m fine. I’ve always been on maximum doses to have a worthwhile affect on my neuropathy.

Many doctors try to use either of these medications as the ONLY drug, and they aren’t strong enough for that usage. But, if you take them and view them as one tool alongside others, they can be very effective.

Some people are sensitive to this class of drugs, so start slowly and increase dosage as prescribed. Don’t misuse or quit suddenly as either one can cause seizures.

It’s just one tool, but may not work for everyone. If it helps you, then wonderful! If not, please don’t use. It shouldn’t be outlawed as there is nothing to replace it for those of who have positive results.

FormerPatriot

What you are mainly going to read about ANY medication are the posts from people who have had a BAD experience with it. These posts are from well meaning, good people and I say, yes, please let others know what happened to you as a warning that it COULD happen to them. We all know how individualized pain and pain treatment is. But some of these same well-meaning, good people who are incensed at the government’s interference in their pain treatment are quite willing to interfere in the pain treatment of others. Gaba and Lyrica work well for some people, not others. Kratom works well for some people and not others. CBD works for some people and not others. Physical therapy, acupuncture etc works for some people’s pain and not others. Opioids work for most people but are dangerous to some. Informed consent by responsible adults is the key. In the end, adults should be responsible for their OWN health care and that of their children. Doctors should be seen and treated as paid consultants, not baby sitters or narcs. When it comes to pain, NOTHING should be off the table.

WARNING against the “Warning” Part II.

The article also mentions that there are several alternative pain reduction methods available which are allegedly more effective than Lyrica. As I have, out of desperation, tried almost all of these “alternatives,” and, indeed, many others as well, please allow me to say that, at least for ME, none of these other alternatives was anywhere near as effective in reducing pain as is Lyrica.

After taking all the time, and making all the effort, to become certified as a PA state certified medical marijuana patient, I experimented with various THC and CBD containing tinctures for a fe weeks. I do not claim that such drugs cannot perhaps work for others, but for me they certainly did not work, aside from some sleep-inducing effects of the CBD oil sans THC. I tried several different titrations and combinations of these chemicals and found that whenever THC was present I simply became more aware of my pain than I was without that drug. When CBD was taken by itself, there was no reduction in pain, probably because my pain is obviously neuropathic and not related to the systems where CBD my well be more effective.

I have also tried “Kratom,” and found that that too merely sedated me without providing any analgesic benefit.

As for “Homeopathy,” that is merely a doggedly persistent form of pseudoscience. Any beneficial effects it might produce can only be attributed to the well studied “placebo effect,” i.e. the mechanism through which one’s belief that a medication is going to produce a pain killing effect causes the brain’s own pain reduction system to introduce the neurotransmitters needed to cause an actual, if usually only minor, drop in one’s perception of pain.

All in all, then, I would say that treatment with Lyrica is a vastly better option for anyone like me who suffers from chronic intractable neuropathic pain caused by ME/CFS than any of the “alternatives” mentioned here. It is, however, less effective than opioids.

WARNING About this “Warning”!!

As someone who has been treated with a fairly high dose of Lyrica ever since being arbitrarily and criminally thrown off my earlier fentanyl patches three years ago, I find myself disagreeing with almost everything this “alternative pain treatment” scam proponent says.

After being summarily thrown of my fentanyl patches, which I had used for almost 20 years with no problems, in 2016, and treated by all medical practicioners with whom I came into contact, especially those who dutifully called themselves “pain management” experts, as a dope fiend heroin addict, I was in so much pain that I seriously planned to move to another country not captured by the regnant opiophobia and wholesale scapegoating of pain patients for the action of the completely unrelated group of heroin/fentanyl injectors.

In desperation I finally accepted a low-dose prescription to Lyrica, a drug I had always been told was more of a marketing swindle than a serious medication. To my surprise, even at this low dose I received a noticable reduction of my intense global neuropathic pain. Since I had by then NO other pain killing medications available to me I quickly asked to have the dose increased, and found that it worked better at the higher dose, which has since been upped again to 450mg./day, a higher dose than the majority of Lyrica users receive.

The drug does not eliminate all of my pain, of course, but it does reduce it to the point where life is usually — except most often at night — managable, i.e. where I can function without being truly constantly reminded of and distracted by my pain. And it certainly decreases the pain to the extent where my emergency plans to get out of this “opioid-crisis” hysterical land and to move to some place more rational were no longer necessary.

Even at my relatively high dose of Lyrica, I have had no serious and deleterious side-effects. The drug can be a tad sedating at times, but even that effect is not bothersome

Pindy Cerlin

Gabapentinoids have documented side effects that may outweigh their benefits in some patients. But advocating for kratom, homeopathy, etc.? [edit] is this article (and this site?). Do not take medical advice from a social worker.

Michael Thiloflus

we need doctors to treat the whole patient and the disease and not just the symptom. big pharma is slowly killing america. to everyone suffering from chronic pain i say viva la kratom!

Mark Ibsen MD

98% of my cannabis patients are able to come off using cannabis,
And they are delighted when they do.

Jeff Cox

I am a 53 yr old male currently using gabapentin for my diabetic nerve pain, mostly in my feet. The pain is maddening and unlike any other pain I have felt in my life. Its almost like an electrical shock type of pain. I used Kratom for 2 yrs. It worked very well, but over time it has stained my teeth yellow, and caused me to withdraw from life and all I wanted to do was sit at home and surf the web or watch t.v.. I had no desire to get out and work or visit with friends or date. If you miss a dose I would go into dreadful withdrawals. I got off of that and started lyrica. Taking the lyrica killed my Kratom withdrawals and killed my foot pain. But I had a moral issue with taking a $600 medication. $10 per pill. Ripoff. So I switched to gabapentin. It does the job, and kills the diabetic nerve pain. I do get withdrawal cold tingles if I go too long between doses. As it is, I take it 3 times per day. The only bad thing about gabapentin, other than the cold tingles, is that it seriously effects how well my brain works. Words and names will elude me. How to operate a simple device will elude me. People will look at me and think…is he dumb? Its embarrassing. At this point I keep the dosage as low as possible and the “stupids” are gone now. I am about to try medical cannabis and see if it works. If it does…I’m off the gabapentin.

Katie Olmstead

I was prescribed Neurontin for CRPS. After taking one dose, I was at an event and started to cry. I thought I was losing it. I couldn’t stop crying. It made no sense. I was sobbing and had to go home. The next day, dose #2, turned out to be the manic to the previous night’s depressive episode. I was frantic, totally manic, cleaning the house like never before, shaking, felt like I was losing my mind. Ended up running into the big woods behind my house to use up more energy until I couldn’t run any more and fell onto the ground. That’s when my throat started to close. LUCKILY, it wasn’t full out anaphalaxis. By then I had figured out it was the medication and stopped at just those 2 doses. I had it put in my permanent record that I was “allergic” to Neurontin. A dozen years later, a new-to-me physician’s asst at a pain center wanted to put me on Neurontin, having not bothered to look at my chart, and I said no. Then she said I should try Lyrica. She never said anything about them being chemically nearly the same and hence, it would have been life threatening for me to try Lyrica. It was all on me to make the connection, call my PCP and the pharmacy to confirm, and conclude NO.
Reading these other accounts, I got off easy.

Laurie

I took ONE Gaba a while back and immediately hated it. I threw the rest in the trash ( wouldn’t do that today!)
I talked to a friend of mine who had been taken up to 3000 mg a day Her response: “NO PAIN/NO BRAIN”
Now this article tells me this drug interferes with synapse formation. NO THANKS!

I swear , they’d rather poison us than provide anything that actually works for us

Terri L Dunn

I have had nothing but success from gabapentin. I cannot believe you are suggesting people use kratom.

Laura

I’ve taken both gabapentin and Lyrica for a spinal cord injury. They helped with the constant neuropathic pain but the side effects especially for Lyrica were absolutely hell. It turned me into a brain dead zombie. I tapered off of it after about six months, which plunged me into a massive depression. I begged doctors for help but none of them believed me or cared. It got so bad that I ended up attempting suicide. It’s ironic that the thing that saved my life was oxycodone. I took a bigger dose so I could walk out into the woods where I planned to end it. The sedation from the oxy calmed down my crazy racing thoughts enough for me to realize what was going on and stopped me from going through with it.

Kristine Anderson

I started taking gabapentin about 30 years ago for restless legs syndrome. It was a miracle drug for me and I’m still on it at age 66. I’ve never had any problems with it, but when it began being prescribed for pain I was surprised.

Larry

I have chronic pain from arthritis, ddd, severe spinal stenosis, periferal neuropathy and fibromyalgia. I have neuropathic pain ( a constant twitching) in my shoulder, pain in the back of my legs, and muscle spasms in my back. I have taken Gabapentin and found that it only helps a little bit and it makes me a little sleepy. I believe people’s suicidal thoughts are not from the drug but from the ailment they suffer from. Marijuana helps me more than Gabapentin. I found that keeping active, stretching, using moist heat and massage helps the most, along with acceptance and rest when u need it.

Thomas Kidd

Seems some people in pain who have been stable for years taking opioids are being targeted medical marijuana is a money maker and it doesn’t work with most people. This whole evil mess is about profits and most of all control over the weak, sick and dying. Greed drives this and compassion is not in it. Having material wealth is the only thing most people desire, how this affects their fellowman never enrers their diseased minds. Why do you suppose that anything about Jesus Christ and His teachings has been steadily removed from schools for the beginning to the end? Anti-christian ideas have brought us to where we are today. The hellish idea that we evolved from lower life forms is the end of most people who are alive today. Many of the people who write, and those who comment have rejected God and His Commandments, this is called iniquity (lawlessness), and all shall reap what they have sown. But I understand that that what I have written will like most times, be ignored. People it’s all about population control and power over the masses. The Bible, God’s word will give us instructions and peace but it’s been rejected too. Trust in your education and perish. As for me I will trust in Jesus Christ and His way.

Thomas Kidd

The people behind this fake opioid crisis are still trying to keep from treating people with the only true pain reliever, opioid medications. It does no good for us who need these meds to try failed methods. None of the mentioned treatments work whatsoever in my case and with millions of other chronic pain sufferers. I am so tired of the BS. Give us the opioid medications that have worked and continue to work. Thank you.

Karen Sherer

That sounds like extreme reactions. I’ve taken gabapentin successfully for 15 years with the only side effects being…. nothing. Don’t not try it, because for some, it can be a useful tool.

Duane B. Michaels

I would like to comment on the problems associated with Gabapentin and Lyrica. I’m in terrible pain right now and can’t elaborate extensively on the entire experience.

I had been prescribed Gabapentin for what they say is neuropathic pain in my back from a serious tractor trailer accident and problems with my legs from intense chemotherapy from 2002.

I became delusional and was unable to take care of myself. I had absolutely no help and my vision became severely compromised. I had five to ten side effects that were without a doubt from the gabapentenoids !

My doctor became so sick of me complaining and I became so irrational that he decided I was bipolar. He then added more medication to my cocktail of medications. At that time I decided to stop taking the medications completely for awhile. One being Valium for a unknown neurological disorder which they can’t figure out and the other being Oxycodone. I have at least six inoperable tears in my shoulder and have had eleven surgeries.

I have never had a problem getting off the narcotics or Valium. I simply don’t take them daily and am not dependent on them. The Lyrica and Gabapentin caused such severe side effects which took months to completely stop taking them. I honestly feel that I almost died from the stopping of the Lyrica especially.

The list of side effects and related issues were the scariest and most dangerous medical issues I’ve ever dealt with in my life. I don’t think the doctors have any idea of the suffering and difficulties imposed by these drugs. Also they were highly infective and a physically and mentally crippling drug. I would never consider using these medications ever again and caution everyone to do their research before using these drugs !

Thanks for listening !
Sincerely,
Duane B Michaels

maxlet

I took Lyrica for almost a year for post-surgical CRPS & in the last couple months of taking it, my short-term memory pretty much disappeared. It (mostly) came back after being off the stuff for 3-4 months. I don’t often see that listed as a side effect.

I had various doctors basically force me to take neurontin 3 different times in the 40+ years I’ve had severe intractable migraines (the 2nd & 3rd apparently didn’t believe it didn’t work, or something).

Both meds can be abused to get high & cause addiction, btw, so it’s not like they’re an improvement over opioids in that respect either.

Laura

This article is nonsense. I can believe people have had bad experiences with these drugs, but I’ve taken Neurontin for years (as needed, not scheduled) and no bad effects. And look at the alternatives! Medical marijuana, not even available in all states? CBD? Kratom? Homeopathy, which is basically an expensive placebo effect?

This is scaremongering, please talk to a professional if you would like to taper off your Lyrica. It’s true that there are mixed reports of effectiveness, and I am a big believer in non-medication therapies (see: acceptance & commitment therapy, a form of CBT) but this article is only written for people who already believe the contents and want to reinforce their beliefs, not for people who actually want to learn something.

From, a psychiatric pharmacist.

Barbara W

Cindy you r B’S ing the pain community to sell what your pushing!!!! The DEA the rehab industry has been trying to ban Gabrapenton for years to put it on the black market for profit along with Kratom & all things that kill pain so they can make bank . did u know prison inmates r denied Gabapentin because addicts that use opiods use Gabapentin to make their HIGH BETTER!! Those addicts should all be locked in prison!!! Marijuana does not work for everyone especially back neurological pain it makes it way worse for many patients. So those deaths r with Abusers with gabapentin!! Everyone is trying to make money off of the pain industry because it’s the biggest reason people go to the doctors. Many alternatives r fine but not covered by insurance & every single persons body is different. if u r allergic don’t take it!! Opiods r the best pain medicine at affordable pricing Gabapentin is another!! etc. The pain community needs to file lawsuits the FDA, CDC, & DEA Big time!!

Thomas

Oh the gabapentin almost killed me a week hospital with low blood pressure

Thomas

This posted in 2014 and still we suffer from DEA Gestapo tactics. And to hear them flat out lie about it makes me sick. My doctor is wary of one entity the DEA. When I questioned about the CDC refrain of the 2016 MME the answer was who cares what they say ,and in mock wrist together handcuffs stated it’s the DEA we are worried about.how proud you must to sustain the agony of good Americans , the blood runs off your actions….

Joy Robinson

I take Gabapentin. And this medication is my saving grace. I take it for neuropathy/sciatica. To have relief instead of the sheer, absolute…HELL…that accompany such a condition is priceless. However, it does absolutely nothing. Zero, zip, zilch for my chronic pain. I now take Kraton for that. Do I experience any of the above mentioned side effects from Gabapentin? Nope. Maybe I’m a medical oddity. Who knows?
But I will say this. Even if if were to experience any and/or all of them I would still take Gabapentin because, sitting in MY body, anything would be better than the Hell that is neuropathy/sciatica.
I have mixed feelings about reading your article…on this site…you’re not an MD (Neurologist, PP, Pain Management) and compiling stories and data from other sources. I can not understand why you felt the need to reach out the the National Pain Report to publish this letter?
It’s hard enough for Chronic Pain Patients to receive adequate care in managing our conditions, but we do need to be aware of what we’re up against.
It is quite irritating to see yet one more person jumping on the bandwagon of the moment. You really don’t comprehend the damage this does in today’s uber-sensitive environment.
I have read the negative reports of abuse and misuse therefore I stress, Chronic Pain Patients are not those people…and if anyone taking Gabapentin and/or Lyrica have adverse reactions they need to speak with their prescribing physician.
In my state marijuana isn’t legal for medical use nor recreational use. Even if it were I don’t want to smoke marijuana and have my mind altered. In addition my husband is a truck driver and I wouldn’t expose him as well. CBD is legal in my state and from what I’ve read I do not want to go down that rabbit hole.
Managing any Chronic condition isn’t one size fits all. Talk with your provider and don’t look down your nose about an avenue someone takes to manage their condition.

Debbie Gray

Truth!!!

Debbie Nickels Heck, MD

I wouldn’t prescribe Lyrica or gabapentin for fibro or chronic pain or take it. However, I found TOPAMAX, which is similar and recommended and effective for preventing migraines, to actually be very effective for myself (and patients I later prescribed it to) when I had neuropathic pain after surgery on my foot and had a nerve irritation PLUS it obliterated the migraines I’d had for years and helped decrease my fibromyalgia pain WITHOUT the horrid side effects the other two medications can cause. I’ve now taken it for 17 years and wouldn’t consider stopping it. My fibro miraculously abated but I have arthritic pain and certainly fear my migraines would return. I do have some muscle pain with activity and don’t know if it would be worse if I stopped it. I don’t want to risk that. I honestly have found it to be far “cleaner” and less risky than the other two meds which I’d NEVER use.

BC...

Extremely inaccurate. The research mentioned is misrepresented and incorrectly reported. Personal opinion pieces like this do not help improve treatment and do not help improve patient’s understanding accurate information

Cindy

PS – I also want to thank the author for mentioning askapatient.com, which I’d never heard of before.

I just added my Gabapentin story there.

I am the queen of super rare side effects, and my Gaba side effects weren’t listed in today’s NPR column.
I had no emotional side effects that I can recall, even though those seem to be a major Gaba side effect; I just had the cognitive issues, which were very frightening.

Carey

The use of these medications to treat surgical pain, headaches, and seemingly any type of pain that would historically have been treat with opioids is criminal. In any other instance, if a doctor routinely prescribed a medication that they know likely does not work, and that is powerful enough to produce significant side effects, they would be sued. The opioid hysteria apparently makes this unethical, and otherwise criminal/cruel practice, commonplace so that doctors can keep their malpractices rates down, and avoid even the possibility that someone who abuses and overtakes a prescribed opioid, and/or combines a prescribed opioid with street drugs, might find themselves in trouble.

Neurontin did not help my Fibromyalgia. None of the myriad of prescriptions, therapies, spinal fusion… helped. I just kept getting worse until I could barely move. The pain was unbearable. In the year 2000, as I was considering going to a nursing home to spend what I was certain would be my final days in this world in misery, I prayed for a miracle, an end to my suffering, even death. So grateful to have finally found the mind/body/spirit wellness work that helped me to identify and deal with the numerous unresolved issues in my life that helped to make me so very ill. I also changed my diet and ate healthy meals, eliminating sugar, dairy, wheat, and as many processed foods as possible. I exercised regularly starting out walking in a pool, then aquasize, and swimming—less impact on my tender joints, muscles, and tissues. Gradually the pains lessened. I was able to get more restorative sleep. My energy increased. I continue to juice raw vegetables, eat well, exercise regularly, and enjoy my remission.

Tammy Cole

In addition of the side effects, both lyrica and gabapentin trigger asthma attacks for me. My pain is nerve pain in my shoulder and arm that I got after having lipomas removed from my shoulder. The pain was uncontrollable I’m not kidding when I say I was at the point to where I was thinking of having my arm amputated. I didn’t want to go to a pain clinic, my Pcp wldnt help me so I was forced to go. When. The latest guidelines came out my pain doctor just dropped me via a letter in my mail box.

However not pain free but somewhat controllable I’m using hemp root salve. It took about 3 days of rubbing it on the shoulder and arm before I got relief. The hemp root salve has helped better than ibuprofen, tylenol or any other over the counter medications.

Cindy

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS COLUMN. I intend to print it for future reference.

BUT, HERE’S AN IMPORTANT WARNING/SIDE EFFECT OF GABAPENTIN THAT’S NOT LISTED ABOVE:

When I developed pelvic pain syndrome after my total hysterctomy, gabapentin was the first Rx tried. I was on it for months. I developed terrible memory and word retrieval problems, but didn’t connect my problems with the Rx. I just thought it was b/c I was so sick. I was too out of it to realize the connection, I guess.

I couldn’t think of basic words like “chair”, aside from not remembering the names of very famous people in the news all the time. Names that I knew very well, since I was a news junkie. I felt like I had dementia.

Thank goodness the gabapentin didn’t help my pain and I got off it finally, b/c when I did, my cognitive function returned to normal — immediately. Like flicking a switch.

The next Rx was Lyrica, which didnt’ help at all. B/c I also have Fibro, and had heard such good things about Lyrica, I was especially disappointed.

All this was over a decade ago, and looking back at my notes, which are a bit confusing, I have to disclose that there’s maybe a 1% chance at most that it was the Lyrica that caused the cognitive problems and not the Gaba. But I’m 99.9999% sure it was the Gaba, esp since that was the first Rx I was put on.

Also, years ago I knew someone whose 12 year old daughter had some type of serious illness, and was prescribed Lyrica off label, and it cured her.

Thomas

Wow no mention of the Meds I was doing so well on for twenty years in response to the ” alleged crisis”. I remember oh just over a year ago , having a sense of life quality that was more vibrant , sociable,and active. Now I am constantly tired from interrupted sleep from pain.constant aggregation from the misery of twenty four seven pain. Now don’t get me wrong there were bad days too , that was too developed for relief from the pain meds,but they were few as long as I responsibly took my medicine as prescribed.twenty years of a salvage from a horrible motor vehicle accident that was held mostly at Bay. Now being in the twilight years of my life, forced tapered off my meds spent in very consistent States of agony because the DEA is in disagreement with my care , let the bastards spend one day with the grief of misery and constant agony ,they may have a different point of view……

Disturbed

Lyrica is poison was put on it and in 2 days ended up in the emergency room with throat swelling and breathing problems I don’t think this drug should be on the market and can’t believe that we are all being put at risk causing most of us more health problems the our illnesses we already have enough. Before the war against us began I was stable now myself and many others are used as genuine pigs and lab rats we are going too die and suffer for no reason but ignorant and greed and no it alls who are holding us responsible for the selfish street addicts and our politicians failure too address and do their jobs properly and not allow the street issues too become so bad in the first place it infuriates me that the street user iLife is more important then ours We are no longer innocent until proven guilty just another radical money making bad policy from our US government the day I hear just one politician say that they failed at their job and they are sorry for the downing and disrespect of the pain managed and disabled that will be the candidate that will be worthy of voting for until then they all suck American politics are the largest corrupt entity we should be worried about. I’m very sure that this whole mess began with our government and politicians making money too allow the street drug problems too become what has brought us too what this is and now they are not taking fault so blame the pain managed and disabled Im also pretty sure that most pain managed and disabled have not benefited financially from this mess our government allowed too become so bad The immediate example of this problem is still happening for financial gain just happened this summer with Mitch McConnell shredding a bill too lower prescription drug costs because of his investments in pharmaceutical companies it’s time too remove scream and embarrass people In political positions who participate in this kind of financial gain for personal wealth greedy politicians robbing us all

Dear Cindy,
I appreciate many of your views on pain management, including the benefits of hemp, Kratom, and numerous natural and safe prescription options. We find that using the entire healing arts “toolkit,” we can get most people pain free or at least quite comfortable, generally without needing narcotics (although small subset of people do need them).
The current war on people in pain, including misrepresenting the risks of treatments, has been very harmful to people. I would note that gabapentin is very helpful for many people in many ways. I also invite you to look more closely at the study data in the British medical Journal citation that you gave. It does NOT show increased toxicity and adverse outcomes for most people taking gabapentin, with the exception of some suicidal ideation and overdose in those age 15 to 24. Even in these, it is more likely that what they were taking the gabapentin for was the source of the problem and not the medication.
In fact, the study conclusion was “Overall, gabapentinoids seem to be safe for a range of outcomes in older people” [i.e.-over 24 years old].
The current rush to demonize pain treatments by misrepresenting what the research shows is causing the pain community great harm. Although Lyrica did show some increased toxicity in the study, gabapentin did not.
Thank you for correcting your misrepresentation, and I so very much appreciate your dedication to helping people in pain!

Marsha

I have fibromyalgia and started low dose Lyrica about eight years ago. I experienced minor uncontrolled muscle movements in my legs, fatigue and drowsiness in the beginning. I expected these would go away as many side effects often do with time. I later was given a higher dose twice daily. I now have have blurred vision as well. I read your comments here about the aggression, which I have experienced but assumed it was my old age with chronic pain!

The worst experience I’ve had with the the Lyrica was last Christmas when my husband and I were going to visit family out of town. I was in a brain fog trying to pack and forgot to put the Lyrica in. Oh God. I was three hundred miles from home when I realized my error. The sheer panic was enough to make me sick. My family didn’t understand, they kept saying just call your doctor and get it phoned up here. They’ll understand. Right! I missed one large family get-together, and a large party my daughter and S-I-L gave with me in the bedroom trying to stem my nausea as I could hear them all asking where I was. It was mortifying and I began to think of myself as an addict because of it all. The ride home was rough, and the first thing I did when I got home was run to the bedroom and the bottle of Lyrica. Two hours later I felt almost well.

I am now terrified of withdrawal. I wouldn’t willingly go through it. How much it’s helping the fibromyalgia pain now I’m not sure as I also take low dose opiod. I have osteoarthritis which is getting advanced, and beginning type 2 diabetes.

Larry F

Whatever research restrictions there may be in the US, it’s easy to Google dozens of papers on marijuana in highly respected medical publications. I’ve used it myself for RSD/CRPS and find most research on the money that it’s good for spasms, not so much for pain. Most research touting it for pain relief are based entirely on patient survey, disregard the often found negative psychological side effects from marijuana products, as well as the fact many respondents answer affirmatively to help push full legalization (in many states standards for medical users is low, and it’s guessed most card holders use the program like addicts use pill mill doctors), and the products are unregulated. Survey answerers have no real idea the amount of CBD/THC they use as it might change from batch to batch. It is not a miracle opiod replacement. It may help some, but most proponents are anti-opiod or pro marijuana legalization, and medical marijuana is their tool.

As for Homeopathy, if it worked we could end our worries about opiods being restricted right now. Everyone here can dissolve 1 5mg Percocet in a pint of water. Then dilute the mixture by adding another pint. Do it 5 more times. Now, according to homeopathic principles, you’ve taken one pill and turned it into thousands of teaspoon doses of pain relief, all because the water can ‘remember’ the undiluted properties of the original pill.
I have 30 years of RSD/CRPS in all limbs, tried all the alternative therapies before finding opiods the best option for pain relief & function, and for having some normalcy in life. Guess if I live with it another 30 years I’ll still keep seeing snake oil being sold.

Kayla

Homeopathy? Seriously?
Homeopathy is water. Homeopathic practice suggests that the more you dilute something, the stronger it gets. It’s nonsensical and there’s no science. It’s irresponsible to suggest that snake oil is an actual solution to genuine pain.
LCSWs are social workers and I don’t even know why they’d be given a platform to speak on medical treatment of pain.

Arianne Grand-Gassaway

Many options, including probaby seeking help from the local Wiccan Priestess, and except that one class of medicine that is PROVEN to work for TENS OF MILLIONS of people.
SMH
Cannabis is overrated as far as helping people with moderate to severe pain.
And talk about a pendulum swing!
Let’s revisit the fear mongering about cannabis, the “REEFER MADNESS” mindset, vs the panacea that it’s now become.
Again, SMH…
OPIATES work to relieve pain.
They are one of the safest pain relievers on the market when taken as directed, which MOST people do.

I tried Lyrica & gababentin twice each as I was desperate for relief from the nerve pain in my spine. Horrid drugs!! Never again. Acupuncture helps my shoulder & tennis elbow. I’ve used kratom & 2 strains sometimes help more than my breakthrough opiod. I certainly don’t get high from it but it’s hard to choke down. Of course since it works & is safe, the FDA wants it scheduled & banned. Big pharma wants it’s profits for the poison they out out so kratom has to go.
I have used cbd which helps with the inflamation & sleep. I recently used a cbd wax cartridge with 5.% of thc. Still too much thc so I take extra cbd beforehand & it cuts down on the thc high. Does help but not enough for the thc side effect. Looking for a lower combination.
Opiod did so much better but being cut to less than half of what I was taking, they no longer are working well. I do think a combination of things, treatment of say massage, warm pool, microcurrent, tens etc with opiod will work for a good many people.

But that’s not going to make big pharma money so of course, that’s not an option for those in pain. At least, not an affordable option.

Autumn Gabriel

Several years ago, I tried neurontin. It gave such such horrible nightmares, quit taking it after a few days. This year I was given a sample for Lyrica. Although it did help the pain, I could barely walk without staggering & was incoherent. Only took 2 of those pills, never again. My Pain Management Doctor took me off opiod, upon which I’d been stable for 18 years. What she gives me now barely works & not for more than a hour or so. If my pain gets unbearable, this new medication doesn’t work at all. She is willing to up my dosage, but that turns me into a zombie. Our government has caused millions of chronic pain patients irreparable harm, to say nothing of the many who could no longer live with their pain & committed suicide. Our courageous military men & women deserve much more after they’ve given their heart, soul, & even lives to protect our freedoms, which our government continually erodes. Don’t Punish Pain!!!!

J.D.

I would like to know why doctors are pushing Gabapentin/Lyrica so hard. The last time I saw anything like this, it was when the drug companies were offering gifts,trips and even cash incentives to prescribe their drugs.
It seems that when you finally get fed up enough to go find a new doctor, that new doctor ignores your previous prescriptions (even if they caused massive allergic reactions) and want you to take it again while acting like it will work so much better this time because they are now prescribing it. Do they think they have a magic prescription pad and pen?
Everyone needs to speak up for themselves when dealing with any doctors. They may try and give you a prescription under a different name or phrase it differently such as “I know you said that Gabapentin didn’t work for you so I am going to try you on Neurontin” not considering the damage that this could do. This type of thing happened to my brother and luckily I was with him at the appointment because he is the kind of person that will take whatever the doctor gives him.
Please make sure that if you are the kind of person that believes whatever a doctor tells you (which I have found happens with more people that you would think, especially those over 75) then take someone with you that can be your advocate. It may not only save you a lot of problems and pain but it could also save your life!

Suzy Holcomb

CBD Oil is not strong enough for my pain so I seek something stronger with my RSD/CRPS & other medical concerns. I am also in 3rd stage kidney failure & am finding out that the horizant, cymbalta, & ropinrole that I am now taking for the past two years may be the culprits toward this failure. So, I am in the process of weening myself off these meds. Ironically, prior to this, I was on alternatives, such as akuamma & kratom – until the nephrologist took me off all meds when the discovery of failure arose. Pain levels are bad enough with RSD/CRPS and now seeking new ways to control these levels with so many other concerns that I have plus this failure is a journey I wish never existed. I would prefer to stay away from marijuana completely. I just don’t trust it. So I continue to seek other avenues of treatment & meds. Thank you for these articles & everyone’s input. God bless you all.

Claudia

Thank you for this article. AskaPatient also now has medical marijuana listed on its web site for patients to review:
https://www.askapatient.com/viewrating.asp?drug=99900001&name=MEDICAL+MARIJUANA

Patricia Bradley

After 20 years I’ve tred just about everything mentioned in this article. .spent a fortune and found no lasting relief for my nuorpathy. Why can’t people believe us when we tell them we have tried other things ? for some of us opiates is the Only answer.