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How Effective Is Pregabalin for Neuropathic Pain?

By Emma Miller
Updated May 17, 2024
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Neuropathy is an umbrella term for disorders affecting peripheral nervous system nerves. It can have a number of causes and symptoms may vary between patients. There are several treatment options for the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy (PN), including pain that can be severe and hard to treat. An anti-convulsant medication, pregabalin for neuropathic pain is believed to be more effective than other, similar drugs. It is, however, associated with certain side effects, including dizziness and weight gain.

The peripheral nervous system consists of sensory, motor, and autonomic nerves. The collection of disorders generally known as peripheral neuropathy may affect one or multiple nerves, and different types of nerves, in varying degrees. Peripheral neuropathy is most commonly associated with diabetes, but it may also be caused by trauma, infection, and vascular or autoimmune diseases. Symptoms can vary according to which nerves are affected. Generally, symptoms include weakness, muscle twitches, loss of sensation or severe skin hypersensitivity, and pain in the affected body parts.

Neuropathic pain may be hard to treat, even with narcotic medications. It may be severe, experienced as a sensation of extreme cold or burning, or a sharp, continuous pain. Peripheral neuropathy is not usually a life-threatening condition, but it may seriously impact a sufferer's quality of life.

Treatment is complex, as it involves discovering and addressing the underlying cause of the neuropathy. Nerve damage may be irreversible. Steps may need to be taken to address any lingering long-term symptoms, such as pain. Various medications may be used as part of a treatment plan for the symptoms of neuropathy. These include certain low-dose antidepressant or anti-convulsant medications, such as pregabalin for neuropathic pain.

Primarily used for epilepsy and seizure disorders, pregabalin has proven effective for the treatment of neuropathic pain. It works by stabilizing the brain’s electrical activity. The drug also mimics the action of GABA, a potent regulatory neurotransmitter that helps prevent over-stimulation.

Clinical studies into the use of pregabalin for neuropathic pain indicate the drug’s action is superior to that of other anti-convulsant medications, such as gabapentin, when used as a stand-alone treatment or alongside antidepressant medications. Therapy with pregabalin may offer symptom control at much lower doses than gabapentin. This decreases the potential for dose-related side effects, such as dizziness, thereby improving patients’ quality of life. Those with kidney disorders may be unable to take pregabalin for neuropathic pain, or may benefit from a reduced dose of the drug, to avoid serious side effects due to toxicity. Alcohol intake should also be avoided during treatment with this medication.

The drug is typically given orally, in pill form, and is taken up to three times daily. Medical studies show that pregabalin for neuropathic pain is successful at improving patients’ quality of life and significantly reducing pain levels after a few weeks of treatment. Despite its effectiveness, taking this medication may result in side effects, including concentration difficulties, mood changes, and drowsiness.

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