Pregabalin is a medicine used to treat neuropathic (nerve) pain and fibromyalgia. It is also used outside rheumatology to treat epilepsy and generalized anxiety disorder.
Pregabalin is a derived from the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Gamma-aminobutyric acid plays an important role in the body’s central nervous system where it can reduce the excitability of neurons, the type of cell that the brain and nerves are made out of.
Pregabalin is available in oral capsules of different strengths that are taken twice or three times a day.
A usual starting dose is 75 mg (as one capsule) twice a day.
If you miss a dose, you can simply re-start the medication. It is only important to wean down Pregabalin slowly if you want to completely stop the medication.
Important Tests and Risks
If a patient needs to stop taking Pregabalin, they should do it slowly with the advice of their doctor. The dose should be reduced over a week or two. There is a risk of side effects if it is stopped suddenly.
Pregabalin is a derived from the neurotransmitter gamma*-aminobutyric acid* (GABA). It belongs to a family of similar medications that are also derived from Gamma-aminobutyric acid called gabapentinoids.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid plays an important role in the body’s central nervous system where it can reduce the excitability of neurons, the type of cell that the brain and nerves are made out of.
Although Pregabalin is made from Gamma-aminobutyric acid , it does not bind to Gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors. Instead, it changes how a specific type of ion channels found on the surface of nerve cells (neurons) like operate. The resulting effect is that the body’s neurons become less excited, including those neurons responsible for feeling certain types of pain.
This effect can benefit patients who experience neuropathic pain and those who suffer from fibromyalgia.
Pregabalin changes how neurons in the brain work. Its most common side effect is dizziness. It can rarely cause confusion. Pregabalin can also make people feel weak and tired. Patients should be careful when driving or operating machinery while taking this medicine.
Pregabalin can also cause weight gain. Patients should watch what they eat and pay attention to their weight more carefully while taking this medicine.
People taking Pregabalin should talk to their doctor if they are concerned about any side effects.
Other possible side-effects of Pregabalin include:
- Blurry vision – Pregabalin can cause blurring of the vision.
- Leg swelling – Pregabalin can cause swelling of the legs. It can also worsen a condition called congestive heart failure (CHF). Patients should tell their doctor if they have CHF or if they develop leg swelling.
- Nausea & constipation – Pregabalin can rarely make people feel sick, cause a dry mouth, or cause constipation.
- Headache – Pregabalin can rarely cause a headache.
- Allergic reaction – Pregabalin can rarely cause an allergic reaction. Symptoms include swelling of the face, mouth, lips, gums, tongue or neck and trouble breathing. Patients should call their doctor if this happens.
- Skin rash – Pregabalin can rarely cause an allergic rash. Patients who experience this should stop taking the medicine and let their doctor know about any new rashes, hives, or blisters.
Pregabalin has not been studied in pregnancy. Patients should let their doctor know if they are planning to get pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.
There is a risk of side effects if Pregabalin is stopped right away. It is advisable to gradually reduce the dose over a week or two (patients should consult with their doctor). Pregabalin should only be stopped right away in cases where there is a severe allergic reaction.
People that should NOT be taking Pregabalin include:
- Patients who have experienced an allergic reaction
- Possibly patients who are taking other medications that may also cause dizziness or drowsiness
Anyone that becomes pregnant while taking Pregabalin should notify their doctor.
Patients taking Pregabalin should call their doctor if they feel sick and want to stop, or if they are concerned about any side effects.
Other reasons to call a doctor while taking Pregabalin include:
- Severe leg swelling
- Shortness of breath
- Allergic reaction
Watch Dr. Andy Thompson, a Canadian rheumatologist, introduce Pregabalin in this short video: