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What is Lyrica Used For?

by Dr. Sharon Orrange on August 21, 2014 at 11:08 am

It’s now one of the 10 most prescribed drugs in the United States. Lyrica (pregabalin) is a medication that is chemically and structurally similar to Neurontin (gabapentin) and is used for a wide variety of things: seizure disorder, pain and anxiety. So what is this Lyrica you hear so much about?

Pain.  Real tooth-achy nerve pain. Lyrica is approved for the treatment of neuropathic pain. Nerve pain is burning, sharp, stabbing and numbing pain. Lyrica is helpful for folks with diabetic neuropathy (pain in your feet from diabetes), postherpetic neuralgia (your shingles sores have gone away but the pain persists), and pain after spinal cord injury. With neuropathic pain, start Lyrica 50 mg three times a day and you can increase to 300 mg a day. There is no benefit to going any higher and the side effects are worse.

Fibromyalgia.  Lyrica is FDA approved for use in fibromyalgia but here is what you need to know. For fibro first start with an exercise, stretching and strengthening program before going to medications. No medications work great for fibromyalgia so start with good sleep hygiene, and treating other issues that may contribute to symptoms, including mood or sleep disorders. Then, if you can’t tolerate amitriptyline or have sleep disturbance with your fibro, Lyrica 75 mg twice a day, increasing to 150 mg twice a day may help. Know that any higher than that doesn’t work any better and just has more side effects.

Downsides.  Higher doses of Lyrica mean more side effects. The most common side effects with Lyrica are dizziness (8 – 45%) and drowsiness (4 – 35.7%). Again, these side effects are worse at higher doses.

Prescription hassles.  Lyrica is a schedule V drug similar to promethazine with codeine (the famous sizzurp cough syrup) so it requires a triplicate prescription from your doctor.

Money.  Lyrica is a brand name drug with no generic option so it may be expensive for you. It comes only as a capsule so you can’t split it in half but know that the 75 mg, 150 mg, and 300 mg capsules are roughly the same price.

Dr O.

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