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Lyrica Medication Uses, Side Effects

Pill capsule

Lyrica, generic pregabalin, is a new medication that has anti anxiety, anti-pain and anti-convulsive activity.  Those effects means it has many uses.

In the United States, Lyrica is approved for partial epilepsy, diabetic neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia and fibromyalgia.  In Europe, it is approved for treating generalized anxiety disorder.

How can it do all that?

On a chemical level, Lyrica is a lot like GABA, which is a neurotransmitter involved in slowing down the activity of certain parts of your brain.  More specifically, Lyrica binds to calcium channels and reduces their intake of calcium.  Doing so lowers the release of other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and glutamate, which are involved in anxiety and other processes.

This chemical action is very similar to that exhibited by the benzodiazepines, which are known for high addiction and abuse potential.  Because of this similarity, there is the concern that Lyrica can be abused to get high and could possibly be addictive.  It seems that this is possible, but to significantly lesser degree than with the benzodiazepines.

Lyrica has been used by some doctors for off-label uses such as treating arthritis.  While such use may have benefit, it’s important to note that in 2009 a subsidiary of Pfizer plead guilty to marketing inappropriate uses of Lyrica as part of a major settlement.

Dosing:

Lyrica is typically given at from anywhere from 150mg daily to 600mg daily.  Depending on the specific use, the dose may vary.

Use for fibromyalgia

Lyrica was approved in 2007 as a treatment for fibromyalgia, the first medication for that condition.

Patients who take Lyrica for fibromyalgia have reported moderately positive results. On a fibromyalgia pain scale of 1-10, those on it will have roughly a one point reduction in pain compared to those treated with placebo. Roughly 30% of those with Fibromyalgia who use Lyrica will experience a 50% decrease in pain, while only 13% on placebo have such a reduction.

In looking at those numbers, it’s important to remember that, as a condition, fibromyalgia is difficult to treat with very few people reporting significant improvement over time.

Use for diabetic peripheral neuropathy

Lyrica appears to be a solid treatment for diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN).  According to an independent analysis by the Cochrane review, 50% of patients with DPN and who take Lyrica report significant reduction in pain over time.

But how does that compare to traditional treatment?

The traditional treatment for DPN is amitriptyline, as recommended by the American Diabetic Association, as well as SSRIs and other medications.  Lyrica seems to have similar effectiveness but may have different side effects.

For DPN, the optimal dose seems to be around 300mg daily, possibly given over two doses.

Lyrica’s Side effects:

20-30% of people who use this medication stop specifically because of a serious side effect, which is somewhat on the high side for a psychiatric medication.  Side effects seem to be dose related with increasing incidence at higher doses.

Most common side effects:

Up to 45% report dizziness

Up to 30% report drowsiness

Up to 20% report ataxia, or issues with smooth movement

Up to 16% report weight gain

Up to 15% report reduced salivation

Up to 10% report constipation

Other possible side effects

Balance issues, euphoric mood, fatigue, pain in the joints, chest pain.

Use of Lyrica may rarely be associated with difficulty paying attention and or concentrating.

There have been reports of tremors associated with this medication and there was a recent case report of an older woman who developed Parkinson’s Disease symptoms most likely due to Lyrica.

This list is not comprehensive; consult manufacturers insert for more.

Drug characteristics

Lyrica is not metabolized by the traditional enzymes in the liver, which means that it may have fewer drug interactions than most drugs.  Roughly 90% of the drug is released in the urine which means both heavy use of kidney and relatively low metabolism by the liver.

This means that kidney impairment may have a significant effect on the medication.

Diet has been shown to alter certain release characteristics of Lyrica but does not seem to effect its efficacy.



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This post was written by on Wednesday, February 10, 2010. This author has written 223 posts on this blog and has 5234416 total posts views.


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28 comments

  1. can lyrica cause hallucinations?

  2. i am having hallucinations since taking lyrica-is this condition a side effect of my taking this medication?

  3. I’m sure hallucinations are a side effect, after all it’s a psychiatric drug. My mom went on Lyrica for fibromyalgia and it completely altered her mood so she went off of it. I would seek other alternatives (non psych.drugs) !

  4. I take 600mg a day in 3 / 200mg doses for anxiety from PTSD. Anyway, occassionly I have taken 2000mg at one time to get high. I can tell u for a fact that it does cause at higher doses. But these hallucinations are very mild. Lyrica screws with ur eyesight at higher doses so I think the hallucinations are the result of the interaction between lyrica and ur eyes. Anyway these hallucinations are not serious enough to worry about.

  5. Does Lyrica effect the immune system?

  6. i am very sensitive to most pharmaceuticals, so don’t take any drugs at all unless i am forced to. So, i was not surprised that 3 hours after taking one lyrica i got extremely dopey so laid down and as soon as i closed my eyes i was seeing colors and very vivid hallucinatory images. Soon after i got extreme muscle aches as if i had a 103 fever and began extcessively shivering. this only lasted for a half hour or so and then dissapated. so, anything is possible with any kind of pharmaceutical – it just depends on each individual’s unique makeup.

  7. I was on 300 mg/day and found that I had short term memory loss. Example, go to a room in the house to do something. Get to the room and forget why I went there. Happens too often and I am now on 225 mg/ day and reducing down so that I can get off this drug. I am taking it for painful feet due to Peripheral Neuropathy and have to get off Lyrica slowly. I expect the pain to return. Pain is better then a loss of memory

  8. I have been on Lyrica now for a week..My dr. suggested it due to anxiety and sleep. I have not been able to take any antidepressants. It has been just wonderful for the sleep and anxiety, however, now I wake up and my eyes run all day long..I am on 50mg 3 times a day. My husband said that he has never seen me so relaxed….does anyone know if the runny eyes will subside if Lyrica is taken for a longer time…I also have had some memory loss…but that is worth it due to the benefits..

  9. I was given Lyrica by my pain management clinic, even though there are drug interaction warnings about other meds prescribed by them. I had severe unsteadiness, loss of coordination, falls that resulted in unusual bruising leading to a now pre-cancerous condition. I also suffered a stroke that may be related to a specific fall while on lyrica. I suffered dizziness, lightheadedness and other affects. I have never had a reaction to any other medication. Although the clinic denied this people should know this is just a newer form of neurontin which also is known to cause the same symptoms and drug interactions.

  10. Hi,my mom suffers from Parkinson disease since 5 years now,she has been on lyrica for years now, what I noticed since I have started searching for answers to her chronic pains to her legs is that most of all the side effects of lyrica is what we taught were the symptoms of Parkinson . Through these blogs I search not once have I seen a Parkinson patient using lyrica.Anybody has any information on this combination ? She has burning sensation on her legs ,constantly complaining of muscle pain on her legs and feet,besides having gained over 25 pounds,her eyes disturb her, she looses balance,her mouth is dry,has a hard time breading And im forget a few.Reducing her mobility of walking Part of her day and stiffness of her muscles we know its parkinson
    but the rest I am starting to wonder???. She apparently Is being served by the best neurologist in our town but lately we ask second opinion from another neurologist which he agreed to revise my moms heavy and complicated file.

  11. I was on Lyrica 4 years ago, started having major side affects….Hallucinations, I could not see well enough to drive, panic attacks….Told doctor and he told me to go off of it cold turkey…..Needless to say, for the first time ever, I had a grand mal seizure, ended up unconscious and almost died…I know that for some people, Lyrica is a life saver but not in my case.

  12. Yeah… about that seizure, dawn.

    The reason you had it is that lyrica is an antiepileptic drug and your doctor is an idiot.  Anyone on AEDs need to withdraw slowly or they risk having a seizure. This is well known, documented, and typical practice.  I would get a new doctor, if they made such a gross miscalculation [see: really really stupid mistake with another's care].

  13. I take Lyrica for CRPS. Has anyone had reports of Lyrica being associated with increased Lipids? I also have been prescribed other medication along with Lyrica and am trying to identify which one has caused an alarming increase in Triglycerides and LDL. Thanks

  14. My girlfriends dad is 56 years old and just started this medication a couple months ago since then his life has changed drastically. He has been found over six times wondering around our hometown and on two occasions has been arrested for public intoxication. This problem has never occured this severly until he started this medication. He dosent have a drivers lisence nor access to a car thank god. I have said and argued countless times that it’s this medication along with the others he takes that is causing this. His doctor not only prescribes him lyrica but also Xanax oxiodone and a blood pressure medication. I can not figure out how he is functioning period. His memory is like someone with demetia it’s unreal and dangerous not only for him but others. I found him today on accident walking down our bypass in shorts and tshirt and it’s below 35 degrees here not to mention the speed limit on the road is 55 another big danger and I just so happened to e leaving the grocery and passed him on the road thank god of the timing. Now that I have done some research and have some proof maybe someone will listen. So anyone please caution taking this medication wether it’s you or a family member. Any other input would be greatly appreciated. 

  15. DONNA SUE BAKER SHOAF

    I just started taking Lyrica and so far it does make me unsteady, helps with pain, makes me euphoric and drowsy with very refreshing sleep experience. I have not had any side effects that were bad. I take 75mg 3 times a day. I may have Lupus or MS they are testing me for but for now my neurologist has prescribed Lyrica and I like it. We shall see what transpires as the weeks go by.

  16. Have switched from Gabapentin to Lyrica, to help manage pain from peripheral neuropathy caused by statin medications. Lyrica seems to have more neurological side effects, but pretty close to Gabapentin. It does help more with pain control for sure, and cannot tolerate the pain especially at night without it.
    Often periods of dizziness, and loose balance when standing or starting to walk, difficulty recalling words and some short term recollection. Occasional panic attack with memory loss, “keys missing” then suddenly remember where I placed them. Drowsiness at times and problem with concentrating. Meds caused my problem and now must deal with more med side effect to treat that problem.
    Better to never take any medication beyond acetaminophen.
    (Aspirin causes bruising.) Seems we have wide reactions individually to various meds so how can animal experiments help. Actually those tests give false results when applied to humans.

  17. Rene,
    How fortunate your girlfriend is to have a considerate and thoughtful friend. Hope you can get the father into a physician for more thorough evaluation given his current condition. He needs evaluation. If these signs are med related he is not benefiting from it and should have another therapy to treat his basic problem.
    Good Luck.

  18. Ive been on Lyrica for about 2 months for Fibromyalgia (however ya spell it) and Sjogrens Syndrome. To be honest, its changed my life for the better. Mixed with Tramadol, I can now function without pain. I sleep for the first time in years. I have the option of taking 1 or 2 pills a day, whichever I need. (some days are worse than others). It does make my eye sight blurry and it effects my short term memory, but to be honest, I would rather have blurry eye sight and loss of short term memory, then to hurt like I had been, for so long! I take it in the evenings a couple hours before bed, so blurry eye sight isnt a problem (cause I go to sleep). I am interested to know if it suppresses the immune system. I caught a cold about a month ago, and everyone in the house got over theirs really easily, while I am still sick. Ive googled to find out, and this is the thread that popped up. If anyone knows the answer to that I would appreciate it :)

  19. Robert Ramirez

    I have been on Lyrica for three years, now taking 100mg three times a day. I am using it to reduce foot pain caused by reactive arthritis. I found it to somewhat releive general pain, but have noticed that the meds stop being useful about half way through a months supply. it happens every month. My foot pain keeps me up at night and even worse when the bottle is two weeks into its supply.

  20. I take it for neuropathic pain after having a knee replacement and it’s wonderful. Apart from the pain relief I get a nice relaxed feeling so I won’t drive or operate any machinery while on it. Helps with my insomnia I sleep like a baby right through till 9am and longer if my dog would allow it (he wakes me for his walkies and 9am is his limit). It also relieves opiate withdrawal symptoms which would be a great help for people trying to get off opiates; a dose as low as 150 mgs will hold off withdrawal symptoms for as long as 24 hours. It’s efficacy as far as this use is concerned drops off so I assume a higher dose may be required on day 2. For this reason it should be supervised by a doctor if being used for this purpose. I’ve experienced none of the bad side effects that I’ve read about.

  21. My son is a drug addict He will use anything. What would a doctor give him this drug for back pain and neck pain?? Is it a drug addicts choice of drug if that all they can get??

  22. I have been taking Lyrica for two months for RSD, side effects so far invlude weight gain,swelling, dizziness,memory loss,headaches. Dont know if its worth it or not. Becky

  23. Would there be a problem taking Metanx while on 50 mg Lyrica twice daily?

  24. I just started lyrica about 3 days ago. Been gerttin a headache more often, will that subside?

  25. Hi Theresa, I am in a similar position to yourself. I have fibromyalgia and have started taking Pregabalin a month ago. I keep getting ill and have been off work on and off for the last two months. Immune system at an all time low and I am now wondering is there a connection. Did you ever find anything out about that??
    Ally

  26. I have bee taking 75mg of Lyrica once a day (before bed) and it has helped my pain tremendously but he effects it has on my eyes is terrible. I waken with the look of a demon,,,it takes a day for it to wear off….and the intolerance to sun light or even just day light is bad. I also cant ssee to read if I go to the supermarket….its like looking thro a film of grease which has been spread over my eyes…..have gained 5 kilos in about a year and cannot shift it…that is depressing to me. because I am wondering if I am just going to get larger and larger….

    so..off to doctors on tuesday to see what else I can take to control my pain ( I have all my neck cervicals worn out), Im scared about withrawal symptons now!!

  27. I’ve beenRx Lyrica for nerve pain (sciatica). Not really helping that, but have noticed after and hour or two, I crave more of the drug. Does anyone else get these cravings? Also do get a bit “high” it last 5-6 hrs from 225-300mg. Don’t take it every day as I can’t drive or function properly with it.

    • I took Lyrica for two months for peripheral neuropathy …. noticed fingers and toes swelling the first week, muscles started aching, could barely get out of a chair or out of bed, had to use a cane. Then sores developed on ankle and toes. The drug altered my personality, no patience, irritable and moody. After two months off it, I am still a wreck with muscle pain and swollen fingers and toes. I feel this drug should be taken off the market, and it probably will be when reports of suicides are made available by Pfizer. My advice is to STAY AWAY FROM LYRICA!

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