After receiving the diagnosis of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, I wasn’t really sure what to expect in terms of medication. I was currently taking vicodin to help with the pain, but what else, other than the nerve blocks, would help? My pain management doctor prescribed Neurontin/Gabapentin. First I started with a low does, something like 300mg a day. Every time I would see the doctor he would increase the dosage because it didn’t seem like it was helping. Eventually I worked my way up to taking 600mg tablets 3 times a day. I’m not sure if it was the neurontin, or the nerve blocks, or the acupuncture, or even the antidepressants I was taking – but it finally settled down the syndrome 8 months after officially being diagnosed. Many people say they experience side effects on this drug. Some include a ‘drunk’ feeling, tiredness, feeling woozy/out of it … to my knowledge I haven’t experienced any of these thing. You should take that with a grain of salt though. For months I’ve been attributing my fatigue to my psoriatic arthritis and my ‘out of it-ness’ to the pain meds. Who knows, maybe it’s actually the neurontin! I guess I’ll only find out once I come off of it. 4 months later I’m still on the medication for fear that the CRPS may return. To describe the CRPS in lay mans terms is that my nerves were stuck in a loop of pain. The hope with the neurontin was that the nerves would relax and that they would go back to the way they were supposed to be! This article describes how it works well:
Here’s how it works.
Nerves take messages back and forth from the brain to different parts of the body. If you touch something, a message is sent to your brain. Your brain interprets the message and sends a response signal back. This enables you to feel all sorts of sensations, including pain.
If for some reason the brain is sending exaggerated messages to some part of the body, the result may be lots of pain.
Neurontin somehow changes the way these messages are sent, thus altering the way the body senses and interprets the pain [source: Medline Plus, Lasich]. The end result is that the pain becomes less painful.
After being on the drug for several months I came across this article that was a few years old. In this article the Canadian Government had a lawsuit against Pfizer for fraudulently marketing the drug for pain management use. Once I read this quote I became nervous ….
A new analysis of those unpublished trials by the Therapeutics Initiative suggests that gabapentin works for one out of every six or eight people who use it, at best. The review also concluded that one in eight people had an adverse reaction to the drug. “The much larger majority of people will not get any benefit and many of them will have chronic neurotoxicity or poisoning of the brain,” said Dr. Tom Perry of the Therapeutics Initiative.
I was taking large doses of this medication for pain management reasons! Was I at risk of chronic neurotoxicity or even poisoning of the brain?! I called my pharmacist and sent him the article. I also called my doctor! I wanted to get to the bottom of this. Both of them agreed that it was created to help seizure patients. There wasn’t really a better option out in the market so many doctors prescribed it for pain management. I shouldn’t be worried about poisoning myself and that I should feel comfortable taking the medication. I also learned that you should NEVER abruptly stop taking the medication. Doing so could cause major seizures to occur. (Not sure I was too excited to hear the “well there’s really nothing else better on the market sooo…” comment) So at the end of the day I still take the medication. I feel that it did play a part in settling my CRPS and definitely believe it’s keeping the symptoms at bay. Once I start to ween off the medication I’ll really be able to tell how it’s been affecting me. For now, I’m supportive of this medication being used to treat CRPS.
Want to read about the process I went through while weaning off of this med? Click here!
Wishing You A Pain Free Day!