I am ambivalent about lyrica (have used it for 8 months). I have chronic pain as a direct result of surgery in 1998. Last year I started lyrica (aka pregabalin) on low dose of 75mg/day and moved up to 600mg/day within 3 or so months. My pain is upper back T5/T6 joint, but is probably a referred pain emanating from internal site of operation. Basically neuropathic pain is what I am being treated for.
It does reduce my pain significantly - that's the good news. It also has a general calming effect - which is why it is often prescribed for anxiety conditions - and at the higher doses of 450 to 600mg/day I noticed a reduction in the tension in my neck and shoulder muscles. This relaxation of muscular tension helps to ease one of the secondary causes of pain for me. My personal experience is that as the dose increases the overall pain decreases in a fairly direct fashion. For some people though, lyrica simply doesn't work - the creation and modulation of pain in the body is a complex process - and the reasons why are still being established by the research community.
The side effects are troubling, no doubt about it. Some side effects are transient, as the body has mechanisms for adapting to those. Other side effects seem to be permanent, at least while on the medication. The dizziness, walking into things, slurring of words, and some weird eye sensitivity to night light, they mainly passed over a few weeks. More permanent side effects for me have included rapid weight gain which only stabilised with severe curtailing of diet - a tough call for someone normally quite thin. Cholesterol and blood pressure have gone up; I now need crestor for high cholesterol. Sedation has affected me fairly severely and consistently from 75 right up to 600mg/day; I can't say that it has been particularly worse at higher doses. The sedative effect requires two or three naps per day. Sometimes I'll sleep for two to three hours straight.
Finally, cognitive impact is high. Even with depression, which I was trying to recover from just before I went onto lyrica, I can see a real dip in my capacity to hold onto memories (eg who was that actor who played in what-was-it with thingy?) and to plan anything. Final finally, I used to exercise daily with pain. On lyrica I am so indifferent and lethargic that someone needs to put me upright and point me down the road to get me walking - once moving I'm alright I can keep at it but the interest is just not there anymore.
A quick stint without lyrica has revealed to me that sedation and at least some of the cognitive impact is only while you are on the lyrica. I'm still trying to decide if I can live with lyrica or live without it. Tough call.
It takes a few weeks for the transient side-effects to fade out and also, some people deal with lyrica quite okay once through that period. I would suggest persisting for a few weeks at least but keep a very close eye on diet during the interim. Also, do a full blood workup as a baseline to check against later on. That can catch any of the more dangerous adverse effects should they arise.
I have been on Lyrica now for at least nine months. Generally, I have felt that the effect was positive. I have found it difficult to determine what side effects I have that are necessarily attributable to Lyrica, or might rather be attributable to other things (it's not my only medication, for example). Otis seems to have had a lot of side effects, so I can see why he is concerned.
One warning thought: my shrink tells me that Lyrica has some degree of association with thoughts of suicide. So far, that hasn't been true for me. However, if you have some pre-disposition to depression, you might want to be careful.
I have been trying to take Lyrica for about 2 years now.I think it is a wonderful drug for those with nerve pain as opiates don't always work.I have severe nerve pain in my right arm and hand as well as my chest and ribs from my bilateral mastectomy.I have tried every dosage but if I take a high enough dose to get relief,the side effects get me.There's really no other way to say it,it makes me drunk.I run into walls because I am so dizzy.And lately I have been really frightened because it's almost as if I 'blackout" then when I come back to reality I am cooking or getting ready to go out the door.That could be real dangerous if I actually got behind the wheel.Like I said,I wait until the pain is unbearable before I use it.I have been reading about a new drug approved for fibromyalgia so I'm assuming it's in the same drug class.Has anyone tried it yet?If so,how does it compare to Lyrica?
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