Gabapentin is used to help control partial seizures (convulsions) in the treatment of epilepsy. This medicine cannot cure epilepsy and will only work to control seizures for as long as you continue to take it.
Gabapentin is also used to manage a condition called postherpetic neuralgia, which is pain that occurs after shingles.
Gabapentin works in the brain to prevent seizures and relieve pain for certain conditions in the nervous system. It is not used for routine pain caused by minor injuries or arthritis. Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant.
This medicine is available only with your doctor’s prescription.
This product is available in the following dosage forms:
Nerve pain can be a symptom of many different conditions, includingcancer, HIV, diabetes, and shingles.
For some, nerve pain is frustrating; for others, nerve pain is devastating and life-changing.
Whether it feels like burning, pinpricks, or sudden shocks of electricity, nerve pain can disrupt your life at home and at work. It can limit your ability to get around. Over time, it can grind you down. Studies show that people with nerve pain have higher rates of sleep problems,anxiety, and depression.Your nervous system is involved in everything your body does, from regulating your breathing to controlling your muscles and sensing heat and cold.
There are three types of nerves in the body:
- Autonomic nerves. These nerves control the involuntary or partially voluntary activities of your body, including heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and temperature regulation.
- Motor nerves. These nerves control your movements and actions by passing information from your brain and spinal cord to your muscles.
- Sensory nerves. These nerves relay information from your skin and muscles back to your spinal cord and brain. The information is then processed to let you feel pain and other sensations.
Because nerves are essential to all you do, nerve pain and damage can seriously affect your quality of life.
When you have a serious medical condition such as cancer or HIV, dealing with the additional misery of nerve pain can be especially hard. But there is good news. While nerve pain can’t always be cured, it can be treated — and there are a lot of good options available.
Experts believe that 40 million Americans are living with nerve pain. The impact of nerve pain is tremendous. Both the costs to the healthcare system as well as loss of wages and productivity are staggering.
How Are Nerve Pain and Nerve Damage Treated?
In many instances, nerve damage cannot be cured entirely. But there are various treatments that can reduce your symptoms. Because nerve damage is often progressive, it is important to consult with a doctor when you first notice symptoms. That way you can reduce the likelihood of permanent damage.
Often, the first goal of treatment is to address the underlying condition that’s causing your nerve pain or nerve damage. This may mean:
- Regulating blood sugar levels for people with diabetes
- Correcting nutritional deficiencies
- Changing medications when drugs are causing nerve damage
- Physical therapy or surgery to address compression or trauma to nerves
- Medications to treat autoimmune conditions
Additionally, your doctor may prescribe medications aimed at minimizing the nerve pain you are feeling. These may include:
- Pain relievers
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Certain anti-seizure drugs – Gabapentin
Complementary and alternative approaches may also help alleviate your nerve pain and discomfort. These include:
How do Gabapentin Products Work for Nerve Pain?
We don’t know exactly how gabapentin works to relieve nerve pain.
The structure of gabapentin is similar to a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA slows down nerve activity and relaxes the body. This may be how gabapentin relieves nerve pain.
What are the dosages for Horizant and Gralise?
Horizant and Gralise are dosed differently, and it’s important to know that Horizant, Gralise, and IR gabapentin aren’t interchangeable. For example, taking 600 mg of Horizant is not the same as taking 600 mg of Gralise or 600 mg of IR gabapentin.
Keep in mind: You may experience withdrawal side effects like headache, nausea, and diarrhea if you stop one of these medications abruptly. Stopping them too quickly can also lead to seizures. Your healthcare provider will instruct you on how to slowly lower your dose of these medications if necessary.
When Horizant is taken for postherpetic neuralgia, the typical starting dose is 600 mg every morning with food for 3 days. Then, the dose is usually increased to 600 mg twice daily with food.
If Horizant is prescribed for RLS, the usual dose is 600 mg once daily at around 5PM with food.
For postherpetic neuralgia, your healthcare provider will likely start you on a low dose of Gralise (300 mg) and slowly raise the dose over the course of 2 weeks or more (up to 1,800 mg). Gralise comes as a “starter pack” that contains a dose titration guide to help you with the initial dosage schedule.
Regardless of your dose, Gralise is taken once a day with the evening meal.
How effective are Horizant and Gralise at treating nerve pain?
Clinical studies have shown that Horizant and Gralise effectively treat nerve pain. We’ll take a look at how well they work for their FDA-approved uses below.
Clinical trials compared various doses of Horizant with placebo (a pill with nothing in it). After 12 weeks of treatment, over 300 people rated their pain. All Horizant doses were more effective at improving pain than placebo. And a 1,200 mg dose of Horizant was just as effective as higher doses.
Another clinical trial looked at over 450 people taking Gralise 1,800 mg daily or a placebo pill for 8 weeks. People taking Gralise had more improvement in pain than the people taking a placebo.
We don’t have much research that compares Horizant and Gralise for postherpetic neuralgia. But it’s been found that Horizant leads to more steady gabapentin levels in the body over the course of a day. And Horizant generally requires a lower daily dose (600 mg to 1,200 mg of Horizant versus 1,800 mg of Gralise). This could potentially minimize side effects.
Horizant was studied for RLS treatment in two 12-week clinical trials. Both Horizant 600 mg and 1,200 mg were studied. Both doses were better than placebo at relieving symptoms of RLS.
Other types of pain
There’s not much research on Horizant and Gralise for other types of pain. While some small studies of Gralise have found that it may be effective for other types of pain, they were small studies and they didn’t have the best study design.
However, another study looking at Gralise for nerve pain from diabetes found that it did reduce pain. This was a slightly larger study of close to 150 people. And it was a randomized controlled trial (the best type of study to look for cause and effect).
Keep in mind: IR gabapentin is recommended as a first-choice treatment for some types of nerve pain, such as diabetic nerve pain. But how well it works for other types of pain is unclear. It also hasn’t been shown to be the best option for types of chronic pain, including back pain.