Lyrica is used to treat epilepsy, nerve pain, and fibromyalgia. In 2004, the FDA approved Lyrica for partial onset seizures in adults with epilepsy (as an add-on medication), nerve pain related to diabetes, and nerve pain from shingles (known in clinical terms as postherpetic neuralgia). Since then, the FDA has also approved Lyrica for use in patients with fibromyalgia and nerve pain related to spinal cord injury. Remember: Lyrica won’t heal these conditions, but taking it can be an effective way to manage pain, so you can carry on with day-to-day life.
Here, we’ll go into detail about how Lyrica treats nerve pain and fibromyalgia.
Lyrica is approved to treat nerve pain from certain conditions. What is nerve pain exactly? It’s an extreme, toothache-y kind of pain that feels like burning, sharp stabbing, or numbness.
Nerve pain is a common issue for folks with diabetic neuropathy, which often causes pain in the hands or feet due to nerve damage from diabetes. Lyrica is sometimes prescribed here. Lyrica’s also useful for pain that doesn’t go away after shingles or spinal cord injury.
As far as dosing for nerve pain goes, patients usually start with taking a 50 mg pill three times a day. The strength of the dose can be increased as needed, with some prescriptions going up to a total daily dose of 300 mg. Studies show that above 300 mg per day, there isn’t any added benefit and side effects actually become worse.
Lyrica is FDA-approved for use in fibromyalgia, but here is what you need to know: No medication works great for fibromyalgia. The first place to start with treatment of this condition is lifestyle changes. This includes going on an exercise program that has stretching and strengthening components, and figuring out a good sleep hygiene routine so you can prevent fibromyalgia symptoms like mood or sleep disorders.
Medical treatment for fibromyalgia often starts with a prescription for amitriptyline, a drug used to treat nerve pain and mood disorders like depression. If you can’t take amitriptyline or can’t sleep well because of your fibromyalgia pain, Lyrica may help.
Dosing of Lyrica for fibromyalgia starts at 75 mg twice a day, which can be increased to 150 mg twice a day. Again, taking more than that doesn’t add any benefits and can worsen side effects.
Side effects of Lyrica
Higher doses of Lyrica mean more side effects. The most common side effects with Lyrica are dizziness (up to 45% of patients) and drowsiness (up to 36% of patients), and they get worse with higher doses. Other side effects include loss of balance or coordination, problems with memory or concentration, tremors (shakiness), weight gain, and vision problems (like blurred or double vision).
“Lyrica withdrawal” is also a well-documented downside of taking the medication. Abruptly stopping Lyrica can cause withdrawal symptoms like headache, nausea, anxiety, pain, and insomnia.
Lyrica is a controlled, schedule V drug, similar to promethazine and codeine (the active ingredient in the infamous Purple Drank cough syrup). As such, Lyrica requires a triplicate prescription from your doctor before it can be filled at the pharmacy.
How to save on Lyrica
Lyrica is a brand-name drug currently without a generic option, so it may be expensive for you. The average cash price of a typical monthly prescription is close to $600.
Lyrica comes only as a capsule, so you can’t split it in half, which is a common way for patients to save on some medications. But know this: 75 mg, 150 mg, and 300 mg capsules are roughly the same price.
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