April 19, 2022
6 min. read

Lyrica: What to Expect from This Fibromyalgia Treatment

Medly

If you suffer from a chronic inflammatory condition such as diabetes or fibromyalgia, chances are you may be familiar with Lyrica, Gabapentin, or Cymbalta, which all treat similar symptoms. While Lyrica isn’t a cure for fibromyalgia or nerve and muscle pain, it has proven helpful in treating the symptoms associated with these conditions. 

In 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Lyrica to treat seizures in adults with epilepsy, nerve pain related to diabetes, and nerve pain from shingles. Since then, the FDA has continued to approve the use of Lyrica in patients with fibromyalgia and nerve pain related to spinal cord injury. Take a look at our deep dive into this drug to explore whether or not Lyrica is right for you.

What is Lyrica? 

Lyrica is a brand-name prescription medication that works both as an anticonvulsant to prevent seizures and as an analgesic to treat pain. 

Lyrica works by changing and improving how neurotransmitters communicate with each other. Lyrica interferes with the pain signals that travel through the brain and down the spine, blocking muscle and nerve pain. This decreases the number of nerve signals sent out by damaged nerve cells by calming down some of the overly sensitive nerve cells. Doing this helps to alleviate some of the nerve pain associated with the conditions that Lyrica treats.

Alternatively, as an epilepsy treatment, it is believed to stop seizures by cutting down some of the brain’s abnormal electrical activity that can trigger seizures.

What conditions is Lyrica used for? 

Lyrica is FDA-approved to treat the following conditions: 

  • diabetic nerve pain
  • nerve pain after shingles
  • nerve pain from a spinal cord injury
  • fibromyalgia
  • partial onset seizures 

Diabetic nerve pain 

Diabetic nerve pain, also known as diabetic neuropathy, is pain that happens as a result of complications from diabetes. Symptoms include numbness, pain, tingling, or weakness in your hands or feet. While it’s not fully understood how Lyrica treats diabetic nerve pain, it may reduce your brain’s ability to sense pain. Those with diabetic nerve pain who take Lyrica have experienced, in one clinical study, up to 50% reduction in their painful symptoms. 

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia symptoms can cause: 

  • areas of tenderness
  • cognitive issues, such as trouble concentrating and recalling memories
  • general fatigue
  • pain in your bones and muscles
  • sleep problems

It’s also unknown how Lyrica helps treat fibromyalgia pain, but it’s thought to work in the same way as it does for diabetic nerve pain. 

Pain after shingles 

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a rash, fluid-filled blisters, as well as a constant burning, dull pain, or a sharp, stabbing pain that comes and goes. Studies have shown the effectiveness in using Lyrica for those in pain from shingles. 

Pain from a spinal cord injury

Lyrica is FDA-approved to treat nerve pain from a spinal cord injury. One study showed that 150 to 600 mg a day of Lyrica is effective and well tolerated in patients with neuropathic pain due to spinal cord injury. 

Partial onset seizures 

Lyrica is FDA-approved to treat partial onset seizures in adults and in children, usually in concert with other drugs. Partial onset seizures occur when there is a surge of electrical activity in only one part of the brain. It’s thought that Lyrica may decrease the abnormal electrical signaling that occurs in the brain during a partial onset seizure, but it’s still not entirely clear how Lyrica works to treat partial onset seizures. 

What are the side effects of Lyrica? 

Lyrica can cause both mild or severe side effects. While the following list contains some of the key side effects Lyrica can cause, if you have questions about how you will react to the medication, it’s always best to talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can also provide you with tips on how to deal with any side effects that may be irritating or burdensome. 

Mild side effects 

Mild side effects of Lyrica can include: 

  • trouble concentrating
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • sleepiness
  • swelling in your hands or feet
  • weight gain
  • blurry vision

Serious side effects 

Serious side effects from Lyrica are not common. However, if they do occur, you should contact your healthcare provider right away. 

Serious side effects of Lyrica include: 

  • Muscle problems, such as rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown)
  • Allergic reaction
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts or behaviors

What dosage will I be prescribed? 

The dosage of Lyrica your doctor will prescribe depends on several factors: 

  • the type and severity of the condition you’re treating 
  • your age (and depending on your age, your weight)
  • the form of Lyrica you take
  • other medical conditions you may have, such as kidney problems
  • other medications you may take
  • side effects that you experience while taking the drug

In most cases, providers start by prescribing a low dose and adjust it over time until you find the dose that’s right for you. Lyrica comes either as a capsule that you swallow or in a liquid form that you take by mouth, and is available in eight different strengths, from 25mg to 300mg. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect. 

How do I take Lyrica? 

Take this medication as directed by your doctor. 

For best results, take this medication at the same time each day, with or without food. If you are taking an extended-release tablet, do not crush, chew, or break the tablet. Instead, swallow it whole. 

Is Lyrica a narcotic? 

Lyrica is not a narcotic. “Narcotics” is another term for opioid pain relievers, such as oxycodone. Lyrica contains the active drug pregabalin, which isn’t an opioid. Pregabalin belongs to a class of medications known as antiepileptic drugs. 

However, Lyrica is a controlled substance, and it has the potential to cause psychological or physical dependence. In fact, it’s possible that Lyrica can make you feel “high,” or euphoric. Lyrica isn’t an illicit drug, but it can be misused for this reason. If you have a history of misusing drugs or alcohol, talk to your doctor before you start treatment with Lyrica. 

Lyrica is a medication that has been shown to be helpful for those with fibromyalgia or nerve and muscle pain. If you feel that Lyrica may be helpful with you or your symptoms, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of this medication. 

Sources 

  • NHS website. (2022, February 3). Pregabalin. Nhs.Uk.
  • Diabetic neuropathy – Symptoms and causes. (2020, March 3). Mayo Clinic.Azmi, S., ElHadd, K. T., Nelson, A., Chapman, A., Bowling, F. L., Perumbalath, A., Lim, J., Marshall, A., Malik, R. A., & Alam, U. (2019). Pregabalin in the Management of Painful Diabetic Neuropathy: A Narrative Review. Diabetes therapy : research, treatment and education of diabetes and related disorders, 10(1), 35–56. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13300-018-0550-x
  • Bhusal, S., Diomampo, S., & Magrey, M. N. (2016). Clinical utility, safety, and efficacy of pregabalin in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Drug, healthcare and patient safety, 8, 13–23. https://doi.org/10.2147/DHPS.S95535
  • Kanodia, S. K., & Singhal, K. C. (2011). A study on efficacy of Pregabalin in acute Herpetic Neuralgia. Annals of neurosciences, 18(4), 148–150. https://doi.org/10.5214/ans.0972.7531.1118405
  • Cardenas, D. D., Nieshoff, E. C., Suda, K., Goto, S., Sanin, L., Kaneko, T., Sporn, J., Parsons, B., Soulsby, M., Yang, R., Whalen, E., Scavone, J. M., Suzuki, M. M., & Knapp, L. E. (2013). A randomized trial of pregabalin in patients with neuropathic pain due to spinal cord injury. Neurology, 80(6), 533–539. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0b013e318281546b
  • Parsons, B., Freynhagen, R., Schug, S., Whalen, E., Ortiz, M., Bhadra Brown, P., & Knapp, L. (2019). The relationship between the reporting of euphoria events and early treatment responses to pregabalin: an exploratory post-hoc analysis. Journal of pain research, 12, 2577–2587. https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S199203

 

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