To date, 3 drugs are FDA certified for fibromyalgia. Anti-convulsant Pregabalin (Lyrica brand) certified in mid 2007, antidepressant Duloxetine (Cymbalta brand) certified in mid 2007 and antidepressant Milnacipran (Savella brand) certified in early 2009. In the year when Pregabalin was officially approved as the first FDA certified drug for fibromyalgia, studies found that another anti-convulsant showed promising results in fibromyalgia treatment.
What is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is an anti-convulsant drug, similar to pregabalin, which is mainly prescribed for the treatment of seizures. According to a 2007 study, fibromyalgia patients who consumed Gabapentin in regular dosages ranging from 1200 mg to 2400 mg for around 12 weeks were found to experience lesser pain than those who were prescribed placebo. In fact, it has also been reported that these fibromyalgia patients experienced lesser fatigue and better sleep.
Although this new drug has still not been approved by FDA for fibromyalgia patients, scientists and experts in the field believe that gabapentin serve as a good option for treating chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia.
However, not all have reported to benefit from Gabapentin. In a 2014 review comparing all relevant studies and trials done on Gabapentin, researchers concluded that 35% of fibromyalgia patients received at least 50% reduction in pain and saw improvement in sleep, fatigue, mood, daily function and quality of life. It is better to consult your doctor before you start consuming Gabapentin for treating fibromyalgia.
How does Gabepentin work for fibromyalgia?
It is still unclear how gabapentin helps relieve fibromyalgia pain as the root of fibromyalgia still remains a mystery. However, researchers believe that it has to do with how gabapentin binds to a particular calcium channel in neurons; the binding hinders the cellular flow of calcium which dampens the activity of signaling molecules contributing to pain.
Gabapentin is also observed to be more effective in reducing chronic pain as compared to acute pain. Animal studies showed that the analgesic effect of gabapentin is especially effective in pain resulting from an amplified response to stimuli associated to inflammation or nerve injury. It is believed that fibromyalgia patients will reap the same results.
Gabapentin is also known to improve your sleeping cycle which in turn plays a positive role in the improvement of fibromyalgia.
Side effects of Gabepentin
Some of the common side effects of Gabapentin include:
- Loss of coordination and balance
- Dizziness and drowsiness
- Double vision
The side effects of the drug usually goes away gradually as the body gets accustomed to the drug. However, look out for more severe side effects such as the following and seek medical attention immediately. The more concerning side effects are:
- Swelling of feet and hands giving a puffy appearance
- Rash or itch
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Keep in mind that not all patients will benefit from Gabapentin. It is better to consult your doctor before you start consuming Gabapentin for treating fibromyalgia.
- United States. National Institute of Health. Gabapentin Shown Effective for Fibromyalgia Pain. 11 June 2007. Web. Accessed on: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/gabapentin-shown-effective-fibromyalgia-pain
- Moore R A. et al. Gabapentin for chronic neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Accessed on: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0014677/
- United States. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus. U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Web. Accessed on: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a694007.html