The human back is a large area which is composed of complex structures, including nerves, bone, muscle, ligaments, and tendons, which support the body and help us move around. It becomes hard to work or perform a regular activity if we suffer from back pain.
Back pain feels like a shooting, burning or stabbing sensation. The pain may radiate down your leg or worsen with bending, twisting, lifting, standing or walking. Back pain can affect people of any age for different reasons.
Most back pain issues start between the ages of 30 to 50. Back pain can also occur from some everyday activity or poor posture. Females mostly experience back pain as compared to males. Back pain is classified into two types- acute and chronic back pain.
Acute pain starts suddenly and lasts for up to 6 weeks, and Chronic or long term pain lasts for a long time, usually more than three months and causes ongoing problems. We try many remedies or different medications that may treat our back pain.
So let’s see how Gabapentin is useful for back pain.
What is Gabapentin Used for?
Gabapentin is a generic medication sold in the market under common brand names called Neurontin, Gralise and Horizant. Gabapentin is sometimes called Gabapentinoids and belongs to a drug class called “anticonvulsants” or “antiepileptic”.
Gabapentin controls partial seizures (epilepsy)in adults and children older than three years. It cannot cure epilepsy but will only work to control seizures(epilepsy). Gabapentin is also used to treat or relieve the nerve pain caused by diabetes or shingles.
Anyone with chickenpox may develop shingles, but this might not happen to everyone. Shingle is a viral infection that causes a painful rash, and it can occur anywhere in your body. Gabapentin is also used for restless legs syndrome (RLS).
It is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, usually because of an uncomfortable sensation. RLS can occur at any age and generally worsens with time.
Gabapentin is also used off-label to treat neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder, postmenopausal hot flashes, essential tremors, anxiety, resistant depressant and mood disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), etc. (Yasaei R, Katta S, Saadabadi A).
Gabapentin is not available over the counter without a proper prescription. Still you can get over the counter gabapentin from a certified pharmacy plus they also provides doctors assistance for prescription. You should always consult your health care provider before taking this medication.
Can we use Gabapentin for Back Pain?
There is no such evidence available for the safety and efficacy of using Gabapentin for back pain. Many studies state that Gabapentin is not a good choice to treat back pain because they didn’t find Gabapentin effective for back pain.
The use of Gabapentin is helpful in ne uropathic pain conditions such as diabetic neuropathy. Gabapentin is an ineffective treatment for back pain as it doesn’t reduce the pain but increases the risk of side effects like dizziness, fatigue, visual disturbances, etc.
How does Gabapentin Work?
Gabapentin is a derivative inhibitory and structural analogue of neurotransmitter GABA(gamma-aminobutyric acid). Gabapentin works by inhibiting pain-causing neurotransmitters, which send messages between nerve cells.
Gabapentin works by changing how nerves send messages to your brain. When something presses on a nerve or doesn’t work properly in some way, the nerve can send false messages to your brain.
The brain thinks that a part of your body is being hurt when it is not. This makes you feel pain. By altering the way nerves work, Gabapentin may reduce your pain (Yasaei R, Katta S, Saadabadi A).
How to Consume Gabapentin?
- Gabapentin is available in the form of tablets, capsules and oral solutions.
- While consuming Gabapentin, carefully follow your doctor’s instructions and consume the prescribed dosage.
- Gabapentin is started at a low dose, and the dosage will increase gradually to minimise any side effects.
- If your pain completely disappears with a lower dose, you can stay on that dose rather than increase it to the next dose.
- Swallow the Gabapentin tablets and capsules as a whole with or without food at the same time each day.
How Long will Gabapentin take to Work?
You might notice that your pain starts to improve over one to two weeks after starting gabapentin, but it may take longer in some people and some may feel benefit straight away.
So it totally depends on your work system(body) and response to treatment.
Side Effects of Gabapentin
All drugs have side effects, but they do not happen in all the people who take them.
You may notice some common side effects of Gabapentin at the start of your treatment, and it usually reduces or disappears after taking the same dose for a few days.
- Gabapentin make you feel sleepy, tired or dizzy, and it becomes difficult to concentrate while performing daily activities.
- You may feel sick(fever) and also feel like vomiting.
- You may suffer from diarrhoea that is loose and watery stools that are difficult to pass.
- You may notice changes in your mood like feeling overjoyed, aggressive, etc.
- You may also experience memory problems like forgetting things, confusion, etc.
- Drink plenty of water or fluids to avoid dehydration because Gabapentin may lead to a dry mouth.
If you have troublesome or bothersome serious side effects like allergic reactions, suicidal thoughts, coordination issues, difficulty breathing, severe dizziness, hallucination, etc. So you may need immediate medical help (Yasaei R, Katta S, Saadabadi A).
Who can't Consume Gabapentin?
Gabapentin may not be suitable for some groups of people, and you may need special consideration from your doctor if you have the below condition.
- People who are allergic to Gabapentin or any other medication.
- People consume some otc or prescription medication such as antidepressants, epilepsy medications, narcotic pain relievers or sedatives.
- People with epilepsy may not stop Gabapentin suddenly, or it may increase the risk of side effects.
- People who have severe kidney problems.
- People with a history of drug addiction or alcoholism.
- Individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
- Older people are suggested to take low doses so that the drug may process slowly to avoid dangerous effects.
- The use of Gabapentin is not safe in children younger than 18 years.
Back pain is a common problem experienced by all ever and after. Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant and used to control epilepsy, treat restless leg syndrome and give relief from nerve pain.
Before consuming Gabapentin for back pain, you should consult your healthcare provider to know the benefits and risks. You are advised to take a lower dose during the start of your treatment.
You may notice some common side effects which will disappear in a while; if symptoms are worse, you may need medical help. Gabapentin may not be suitable for some people, so be cautious before consuming it.