Gabapentin is used to treat Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder of the part of thenervous system that causes an urge to move the legs. Because it usually interferes with sleep, it also is considered a sleep disorder.

Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome

In most cases, doctors do not know the cause of restless legs syndrome; however, they suspect that genes play a role. Nearly half of people with RLS also have a family member with the condition.

Other factors associated with the development or worsening of restless legs syndrome include:

  • Chronic diseases. Certain chronic diseases and medical conditions, including iron deficiency, Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure,diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy often include symptoms of RLS. Treating these conditions often gives some relief from RLS symptoms.
  • Medications. Some types of medications, including antinausea drugs, antipsychotic drugs, some antidepressants, and cold and allergymedications containing sedating antihistamines, may worsen symptoms.
  • Pregnancy. Some women experience RLS during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. Symptoms usually go away within a month after delivery.

Other factors, including alcohol use and sleep deprivation, may trigger symptoms or make them worse. Improving sleep or eliminating alcohol use in these cases may relieve symptoms.

Treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome

Treatment for RLS is targeted at easing symptoms. In people with mild to moderate restless legs syndrome, lifestyle changes, such as beginning a regular exercise program, establishing regular sleep patterns, and eliminating or decreasing the use of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, may be helpful. Treatment of an RLS-associated condition also may provide relief of symptoms.

Other non-drug RLS treatments may include:

Leg massages
Hot baths or heating pads or ice packs applied to the legs
Good sleep habits
A vibrating pad called Relaxis
Medications may be helpful as RLS treatments, but the same drugs are not helpful for everyone. In fact, a drug that relieves symptoms in one person may worsen them in another. In other cases, a drug that works for a while may lose its effectiveness over time.

Drugs used to treat RLS include:

  • Dopaminergic drugs, which act on the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.
  • Mirapex, Neupro, and Requip are FDA-approved for treatment of moderate to severe RLS. Others, such as levodopa, may also be prescribed.
  • Benzodiazepines, a class of sedative medications, may be used to help with sleep, but they can cause daytime drowsiness.
  • Narcotic pain relievers may be used for severe pain.
  • Anticonvulsants, or antiseizure drugs, such as Tegretol, Lyrica, Gabapentin ( Neurontin ), and Horizant.

Although there is no cure for restless legs syndrome, current treatments can help control the condition, decrease symptoms, and improve sleep.

Usual Adult Dose for Restless Legs Syndrome

Gabapentin enacarbil available under the trade name Horizant (R):
600 mg orally once daily with food at about 5 PM

Take Gabapentin as an Anticonvulsant

Anticonvulsants (also commonly known as antiepileptic drugs or as antiseizure drugs) are a diverse group of pharmacological agents used in the treatment of epileptic seizures. Anticonvulsants are also increasingly being used in the treatment of bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, since many seem to act as mood stabilizers, and for the treatment of neuropathic pain.

Anticonvulsants suppress the rapid and excessive firing of neurons during seizures. Anticonvulsants also prevent the spread of the seizure within the brain. Some investigators have observed that anticonvulsants themselves may cause reduced IQ in children.   However these adverse effects must be balanced against the significant risk epileptic seizures pose to children and the distinct possibility of death and devastating neurological sequelaesecondary to seizures.

Anticonvulsants are more accurately called antiepileptic drugs (abbreviated “AEDs”), and are often referred to as antiseizure drugs because they provide symptomatic treatment only and have not been demonstrated to alter the course of epilepsy.

Gabapentin (Neurontin) has been approved as adjunctive therapy in adults with partial seizures with or without secondary generalization . Begin with 300 mg daily; increase to 900 to 1,800 mg daily given every 6 to 8 hours.  Side Effects maybe: Somnolence, fatigue, ataxia, dizziness, gastrointestinal upset, dyspnea.

A gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog, gabapentin does not interact with GABA receptors. Its mechanism of action is unknown.

Gabapentin is well absorbed orally, circulates mostly unbound in the plasma and is excreted unchanged in the kidneys without appreciable metabolism in the body. Oral bioavailability is approximately 60 percent and is not affected by food. The half-life is five to seven hours and is related to the creatinine clearance. Therefore, excretion is decreased in patients with renal impairment and decreased cardiac function, and in elderly patients. Gabapentin can be removed from the system through hemodialysis.

In clinical studies,  gabapentin was found to be effective in adults with refractory partial seizures and was also effective in preventing the progression of partial seizures to generalized tonic-clonic seizures.

Because gabapentin has no known pharmacokinetic interactions with any other antiepileptic drugs, it is useful in patients taking other antiepileptic medication.

 

Gabapentin is also used for Prevention of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a muscular condition that affects many people. It refers to muscle fatigue and pain felt across different muscle groups in the body, not just on isolated areas.  Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.

The term fibromyalgia directly means pain that is embedded in the tissues of the muscles, specifically the fibrous tissues.  This very acute pain starts from the ligaments, the tendons, and other such connective muscle tissues that are present all over the muscular system of the body.  Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men.  Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.

There are however some controversial theories regarding  Fibromyalgia that propose that this condition is a psychosomatic illness, that is, it is a disorder brought about by psychological factors and not necessarily physical factors. This reasoning is mainly brought about by the strong evidence available that relates Fibromyalgia to major depression.

 

An in-depth review regarding the association of major depression disorders with Fibromyalgia brought out significant similarities between the two in terms of psychological characteristics and neuroendoctrine abnormalities in the patients.

Researchers believe repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). In addition, the brain’s pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they can overreact to pain signals.

Medications designed to treat epilepsy are often useful in reducing certain types of nerve pain. Gabapentin (Neurontin) is sometimes helpful in reducing fibromyalgia symptoms.  Gabapentin is a medicine used to treat pain caused by nerves that are not working properly.   Gabapentin changes the way that the nerves send messages to the brain. It can be taken in a tablet or a liquid, with or without food.  Doses are usually 1200 mg to 2400 mg each day. At the start of treatment low doses are used to minimise side effects, but the dose is usually increased after a few weeks.

 

At the reviews of gabapentin for fibromyalgia in drugs.com ,  almost 70% Fibromyalgia Patients think Gabapentin can cure their fiobromyalgia disease.  But almost 20% fiobromyalgia Patients think it doesnot work. ( Rating 1 -2 %),  another 15% patients think it do work but the effect is not that good ( Rating 3 – 5 ).

One of the patient said:

“I have had fibro for 7 years, finally have a doctor that prescribed me Gabapentin. It’s amazing I feel like a normal person again. I sleep through the night, with no pain anymore. My anxiety is gone also, which is awesome. I know everyone is different, but it works for me. I have had little to no side effects yet. First few doses was a bit of an air head other than that no complaints. Being able to function pain free and agitation free is a blessing.”

Another Fiobro patient said:

“I had the best results, in relieving the pain, with gabapentin. I was able to work through the other symptoms. The etodolac helped with the inflammation. I was doing well, until the muscle spasms started, again. I suspect the mould allergies exasperated the symptoms. So, cyclobenzeprine was added. I don’t know what happened, but I was jobless, homeless, and very sick by the time a CVS pharmacist recognized the V.A. had put me on another toxic, prescription drug cocktail. When I brought it to the V.A.s attention, as usual, it was ignored. The medications that help, are the ones the V.A. will not prescribe to veterans like myself. They say speak up, if you do, expect to be classified as mentally ill, violent, aggressive, involuntarily committed”

NatalieW555 Said:
“I was suffering from fibromyalgia pain most of my adult life, I’m 52 by the way, not realizing there was this wonderful medication available to me…I started it about 2 years ago and it really makes a HUGE difference in how my body feels. I take 300 mg 3X daily. I hope it never quits working for me…you should give it a try….It has no side effects on me.”

Member Annabqnm Said:

“Pretty much saved my life. 13 years ago fibromyalgia symptoms (severe pain especially legs and shoulders), started. My father was taking high doses of gabapentin for chronic guillaune barre. He urged me to try it–and it was the first real sleep I had in months! My rheumatologist had me on 1600mg. 3x, gradually lowered to 1600 mg. 2x. Studies at Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins show very few (and very mild) side effects, even at high doses. The only problem I have is if I forget to take them. Then I get flu like symptoms. I was able to continue my career (elementary school teacher) with no problems. Retired this year age 66 and very active. BTW my memory seems better than most friends my age.”

But 30% Fibro customers think Gabapentin is not effective for their Fibro disease. I looked the reviews they have wrote, I found most of them are just back pain or leg pain but not Fiobromyalgia. But some Fibro patients do think it has some side effects, especially thought problems such as depression.

One of the Fibro patient said:

“I have “fibromyalgia,” severe muscle pain from a twisted spine/congenitally deformed vertebrae. I was getting better with yoga, but hurt my back/rib muscles overdoing. I developed depression on gabapentin after a few weeks. At first it dulled the pain and made me feel lightheaded, and I had memory problems. Then my anxiety increased and the pain continued, and hit a real low. I spent two weeks in a psych ward until a brilliant psych nurse who believed in treating muscle pain. I am now recovering on a mix of robaxin, a muscle relaxer, a low dose of valium for rib spasms, and prozac and remeron (for sleep) and hope to get off all of them once I can exercise again. Similar reaction to Lyrica four years ago.”

Gabapentin is effective for Fibro. But you need consider whether you can endure the side effects of gabapentin. Please check our website for the Gabapentin Side Effects.

NEURONTIN may cause serious side effects

gabapentin 800mg tab
gabapentin 800mg tab

The most common side effects of NEURONTIN include:

  • lack of coordination
  • feeling tired
  • viral infection
  • fever
  • feeling drowsy
  • jerky movements
  • nausea and vomiting
  • difficulty with coordination
  • difficulty with speaking
  • double vision
  • tremor
  • unusual eye movement
  • swelling, usually of legs and feet

SIDE EFFECTS: Drowsiness, dizziness, loss of coordination, tiredness, blurred/double vision, unusual eye movements, or shaking (tremor) may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: swelling of the hands/ankles/feet, signs of infection (such as fever, cough, persistent sore throat).

A small number of people who take anticonvulsants for any condition (such as seizures, bipolar disorder, pain) may experience depression, suicidal thoughts/attempts, or other mental/mood problems. Tell your doctor immediately if you or your family/caregiver notice any unusual/sudden changes in your mood, thoughts, or behavior including signs of depression, suicidal thoughts/attempts, thoughts about harming yourself.

Get medical help right away if you have any serious side effects, including: unusual fever, swollen glands, yellowing skin/eyes, unusual tiredness, dark urine, change in the amount of urine, chest pain.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

What is Gabapentin and what I should know before I take Gabapentin ?

Gabapentin is an anti-epileptic medication, also called an anticonvulsant. It affects chemicals and nerves in the body that are involved in the cause of seizures and some types of pain.

Gabapentin is used in adults to treat nerve pain caused by herpes virus or shingles (herpes zoster).

The Horizant brand of gabapentin is also used to treat restless legs syndrome (RLS).

The Neurontin brand of gabapentin is also used to treatseizures in adults and children who are at least 3 years old.

NEURONTIN is a prescription medicine used to treat:

  • Pain from damaged nerves (postherpetic pain) that follows healing ofshingles (a painful rash that comes after a herpes zoster infection) in adults.
  • Partial seizures when taken together with other medicines in adults and children 3 years of age and older with seizures.

How should this medicine be used?

Gabapentin comes as a capsule, a tablet, an extended-release (long-acting) tablet, and an oral solution (liquid) to take by mouth. Gabapentin capsules, tablets, and oral solution are usually taken with a full glass of water (8 ounces [240 milliliters]), with or without food, three times a day.

These medications should be taken at evenly spaced times throughout the day and night; no more than 12 hours should pass between doses. The extended-release tablet (Horizant) is taken with food once daily at about 5 PM. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take gabapentin exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Gabapentin extended-release tablets cannot be substituted for another type of gabapentin product. Be sure that you receive only the type of gabapentin that was prescribed by your doctor. Ask your pharmacist if you have any questions about the type of gabapentin you were given.

Swallow the extended-release tablets whole; do not cut, chew, or crush them.

If your doctor tells you to take one-half of a regular tablet as part of your dose, carefully split the tablet along the score mark. Use the other half-tablet as part of your next dose. Properly dispose of any half-tablets that you have not used within several days of breaking them.

If you are taking gabapentin to control seizures or PHN, your doctor will probably start you on a low dose of gabapentin and gradually increase your dose as needed to treat your condition. If you are taking gabapentin to treat PHN, tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve during your treatment.

Gabapentin may help to control your condition but will not cure it. Continue to take gabapentin even if you feel well. Do not stop taking gabapentin without talking to your doctor, even if you experience side effects such as unusual changes in behavior or mood. If you suddenly stop taking gabapentin tablets, capsules, or oral solution, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, nausea, pain, and sweating. If you are taking gabapentin to treat seizures and you suddenly stop taking the medication, you may experience seizures more often. Your doctor may decrease your dose gradually over at least a week.

Your doctor or pharmacist will give you the manufacturer’s patient information sheet (Medication Guide) when you begin treatment with gabapentin and each time you refill your prescription. Read the information carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. You can also visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website (http://www.fda.gov/Drugs) or the manufacturer’s website to obtain the Medication Guide.

Other uses for this medicine

Gabapentin is also sometimes used to relieve the pain of diabetic neuropathy (numbness or tingling due to nerve damage in people who have diabetes), and to treat and prevent hot flashes (sudden strong feelings of heat and sweating) in women who are being treated for breast cancer or who have experienced menopause (”change of life”, the end of monthly menstrual periods). Talk to your doctor about the risks of using this medication for your condition.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking gabapentin,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to gabapentin, any other medications, or any of the inactive ingredients in the type of gabapentin you plan to take. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the inactive ingredients.
  • you should know that gabapentin is available in different forms that may be prescribed for different uses. Ask your doctor to be sure that you are not taking more than one product that contains gabapentin.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: hydrocodone (in Hydrocet, in Vicodin, others), medications that make you feel dizzy or drowsy, morphine (Avinza, Kadian, MSIR, others), and naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn, others). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • if you are taking antacids such as Maalox or Mylanta, take them at least 2 hours before you take gabapentin tablets, capsules, or solution.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney disease. If you will be taking the extended-release tablets, also tell your doctor if you need to sleep during the day and stay awake at night.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking gabapentin, call your doctor.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking gabapentin.
  • you should know that this medication may make you drowsy or dizzy, may slow your thinking, and may cause loss of coordination. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you, and your doctor agrees that it is safe for you to begin these activities.
  • if you are giving gabapentin to your child, you should know that your child’s behavior and mental abilities may change while he or she is taking gabapentin. Your child may have sudden changes in mood, become hostile or hyperactive, have difficulty concentrating or paying attention, or be drowsy or clumsy. Have your child avoid activities that could be dangerous, such as riding a bicycle, until you know how gabapentin affects him or her.
  • remember that alcohol can add to the drowsiness caused by this medication.
  • you should know that your mental health may change in unexpected ways and you may become suicidal (thinking about harming or killing yourself or planning or trying to do so) while you are taking gabapentin for the treatment of epilepsy, mental illness, or other conditions. A small number of adults and children 5 years of age and older (about 1 in 500 people) who took anticonvulsants such as gabapentin to treat various conditions during clinical studies became suicidal during their treatment. Some of these people developed suicidal thoughts and behavior as early as one week after they started taking the medication. There is a risk that you may experience changes in your mental health if you take an anticonvulsant medication such as gabapentin, but there may also be a risk that you will experience changes in your mental health if your condition is not treated. You and your doctor will decide whether the risks of taking an anticonvulsant medication are greater than the risks of not taking the medication. You, your family, or your caregiver should call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: panic attacks; agitation or restlessness; new or worsening irritability, anxiety, or depression; acting on dangerous impulses; difficulty falling or staying asleep; aggressive, angry, or violent behavior; mania (frenzied, abnormally excited mood); talking or thinking about wanting to hurt yourself or end your life; withdrawing from friends and family; preoccupation with death and dying; giving away prized possessions; or any other unusual changes in behavior or mood. Be sure that your family or caregiver knows which symptoms may be serious so they can call the doctor if you are unable to seek treatment on your own.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you forget to take gabapentin capsules, tablets, or oral solution, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose or if you forget to take gabapentin extended-release tablets, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Gabapentin may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • drowsiness
  • tiredness or weakness
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • uncontrollable shaking of a part of your body
  • double or blurred vision
  • unsteadiness
  • anxiety
  • memory problems
  • strange or unusual thoughts
  • unwanted eye movements
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • heartburn
  • diarrhea
  • dry mouth
  • constipation
  • increased appetite
  • weight gain
  • swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • back or joint pain
  • fever
  • runny nose, sneezing, cough, sore throat, or flu-like symptoms
  • ear pain
  • red, itchy eyes (sometimes with swelling or discharge)

Some side effects may be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • rash
  • itching
  • swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, or eyes
  • hoarseness
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • seizures

Gabapentin may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store the tablets, extended-release tablets, and capsules at room temperature, away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Store the oral solution in the refrigerator.

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org

Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

Symptoms of overdose may include the following:

  • double vision
  • slurred speech
  • drowsiness
  • diarrhea

What other information should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor.

Before having any laboratory test, tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are taking gabapentin.

If you use a dipstick to test your urine for protein, ask your doctor which product you should use while taking this medication.

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

Brand names

  • Horizant®
  • Neurontin®

What is the most important information I should know about Gabapentin?

Do not stop taking NEURONTIN without first talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping NEURONTIN suddenly can cause serious problems.

gabapentin warning
gabapentin warning

NEURONTIN can cause serious side effects including:

1. Suicidal Thoughts. Like other antiepileptic drugs, NEURONTIN may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a very small number of people, about 1 in 500.

Call a healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you:

  • thoughts about suicide or dying
  • attempts to commit suicide
  • new or worse depression
  • new or worse anxiety
  • feeling agitated or restless
  • panic attacks
  • trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • new or worse irritability
  • acting aggressive, being angry, or violent
  • acting on dangerous impulses
  • an extreme increase in activity and talking (mania)
  • other unusual changes in behavior or mood

How can I watch for early symptoms of suicidal thoughts and actions?

  • Pay attention to any changes, especially sudden changes, in mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings.
  • Keep all follow-up visits with your healthcare provider as scheduled.

Call your healthcare provider between visits as needed, especially if you are worried about symptoms.

Do not stop taking NEURONTIN without first talking to a healthcare provider.

  • Stopping NEURONTIN suddenly can cause serious problems. Stopping a seizure medicine suddenly in a patient who has epilepsy can cause seizures that will not stop (status epilepticus).
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions can be caused by things other than medicines. If you have suicidal thoughts or actions, your healthcare provider may check for other causes.

2. Changes in behavior and thinking –Using NEURONTIN in children 3 to 12 years of age can cause emotional changes, aggressive behavior, problems with concentration, restlessness, changes in school performance, and hyperactivity.

3. NEURONTIN may cause serious or life-threatening allergic reactionsthat may affect your skin or other parts of your body such as your liver or blood cells. This may cause you to be hospitalized or to stop NEURONTIN. You may or may not have a rash with an allergic reaction caused by NEURONTIN. Call a healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • skin rash
  • hives
  • difficulty breathing
  • fever
  • swollen glands that do not go away
  • swelling of your face, lips, throat, or tongue
  • yellowing of your skin or of the whites of the eyes
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • severe fatigue or weakness
  • unexpected muscle pain
  • frequent infections

These symptoms may be the first signs of a serious reaction. A healthcare provider should examine you to decide if you should continue taking NEURONTIN.

Gabapentin is used to treat Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder of the part of the nervous system that causes an urge to move the legs. Because it usually interferes with sleep, it also is considered a sleep disorder.

Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome

In most cases, doctors do not know the cause of restless legs syndrome; however, they suspect that genes play a role. Nearly half of people with RLS also have a family member with the condition.

Other factors associated with the development or worsening of restless legs syndrome include:

  • Chronic diseases. Certain chronic diseases and medical conditions, including iron deficiency, Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure,diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy often include symptoms of RLS. Treating these conditions often gives some relief from RLS symptoms.
  • Medications. Some types of medications, including antinausea drugs, antipsychotic drugs, some antidepressants, and cold and allergymedications containing sedating antihistamines, may worsen symptoms.
  • Pregnancy. Some women experience RLS during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. Symptoms usually go away within a month after delivery.

Other factors, including alcohol use and sleep deprivation, may trigger symptoms or make them worse. Improving sleep or eliminating alcohol use in these cases may relieve symptoms.

Treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome

Treatment for RLS is targeted at easing symptoms. In people with mild to moderate restless legs syndrome, lifestyle changes, such as beginning a regular exercise program, establishing regular sleep patterns, and eliminating or decreasing the use of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, may be helpful. Treatment of an RLS-associated condition also may provide relief of symptoms.

Other non-drug RLS treatments may include:

Leg massages
Hot baths or heating pads or ice packs applied to the legs
Good sleep habits
A vibrating pad called Relaxis
Medications may be helpful as RLS treatments, but the same drugs are not helpful for everyone. In fact, a drug that relieves symptoms in one person may worsen them in another. In other cases, a drug that works for a while may lose its effectiveness over time.

Drugs used to treat RLS include:

  • Dopaminergic drugs, which act on the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.
  • Mirapex, Neupro, and Requip are FDA-approved for treatment of moderate to severe RLS. Others, such as levodopa, may also be prescribed.
  • Benzodiazepines, a class of sedative medications, may be used to help with sleep, but they can cause daytime drowsiness.
  • Narcotic pain relievers may be used for severe pain.
  • Anticonvulsants, or antiseizure drugs, such as Tegretol, Lyrica, Gabapentin ( Neurontin ), and Horizant.

Although there is no cure for restless legs syndrome, current treatments can help control the condition, decrease symptoms, and improve sleep.

Usual Adult Dose for Restless Legs Syndrome

Gabapentin enacarbil available under the trade name Horizant (R):
600 mg orally once daily with food at about 5 PM

What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking Gabapentin?

Before taking NEURONTIN, tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • have or have had kidney problems or are on hemodialysis
  • have or have had depression, mood problems, or suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • have diabetes
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if NEURONTIN can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant while taking NEURONTIN. You and your healthcare provider will decide if you should take NEURONTIN while you are pregnant.

  • If you become pregnant while taking NEURONTIN, talk to your healthcare provider about registering with the North American Antiepileptic Drug (NAAED) Pregnancy Registry. The purpose of this registry is to collect information about the safety of antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy. You can enroll in this registry by calling 1-888-233-2334.
  • are breast-feeding or plan to breast-feed. NEURONTIN can pass into breast milk. You and your healthcare provider should decide how you will feed your baby while you take NEURONTIN.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Taking NEURONTIN with certain other medicines can cause side effects or affect how well they work. Do not start or stop other medicines without talking to your healthcare provider.

Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of them and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine.

Gabapentin may interact with other medications

Gabapentin oral capsule can interact with several other medications. Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some can interfere with how well a drug works, while others can cause increased side effects.

Below is a list of medications that can interact with gabapentin. This list does not contain all drugs that may interact with gabapentin.

Before taking gabapentin, be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Pain drugs

When used with gabapentin, certain pain drugs can increase its side effects, such as tiredness. Examples of these drugs include:

    • morphine

Stomach acid drugs

When used with gabapentin, certain drugs used to treat stomach acid problems can reduce the amount of gabapentin in your body. This can make it less effective. Taking gabapentin 2 hours after taking these drugs can help prevent this problem. Examples of these drugs include:

    • aluminum hydroxide
    • magnesium hydroxide

What is the most important information I should know about Gabapentin ( NEURONTIN )?

Do not stop taking NEURONTIN without first talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping NEURONTIN suddenly can cause serious problems.

NEURONTIN can cause serious side effects including:

1. Suicidal Thoughts. Like other antiepileptic drugs, NEURONTIN may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a very small number of people, about 1 in 500.

Call a healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you:

      • thoughts about suicide or dying
      • attempts to commit suicide
      • new or worse depression
      • new or worse anxiety
      • feeling agitated or restless
      • panic attacks
      • trouble sleeping (insomnia)
      • new or worse irritability
      • acting aggressive, being angry, or violent
      • acting on dangerous impulses
      • an extreme increase in activity and talking (mania)
      • other unusual changes in behavior or mood

How can I watch for early symptoms of suicidal thoughts and actions?

      • Pay attention to any changes, especially sudden changes, in mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings.
      • Keep all follow-up visits with your healthcare provider as scheduled.

Call your healthcare provider between visits as needed, especially if you are worried about symptoms.

Do not stop taking NEURONTIN without first talking to a healthcare provider.

      • Stopping NEURONTIN suddenly can cause serious problems. Stopping a seizure medicine suddenly in a patient who has epilepsy can cause seizures that will not stop (status epilepticus).
      • Suicidal thoughts or actions can be caused by things other than medicines. If you have suicidal thoughts or actions, your healthcare provider may check for other causes.

2. Changes in behavior and thinking –Using NEURONTIN in children 3 to 12 years of age can cause emotional changes, aggressive behavior, problems with concentration, restlessness, changes in school performance, and hyperactivity.

3. NEURONTIN may cause serious or life-threatening allergic reactions  that may affect your skin or other parts of your body such as your liver or blood cells.

This may cause you to be hospitalized or to stop NEURONTIN. You may or may not have a rash with an allergic reaction caused by NEURONTIN. Call a healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

      • skin rash
      • hives
      • difficulty breathing
      • fever
      • swollen glands that do not go away
      • swelling of your face, lips, throat, or tongue
      • yellowing of your skin or of the whites of the eyes
      • unusual bruising or bleeding
      • severe fatigue or weakness
      • unexpected muscle pain
      • frequent infections

These symptoms may be the first signs of a serious reaction. A healthcare provider should examine you to decide if you should continue taking NEURONTIN.

Before taking gabapentin,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to gabapentin, any other medications, or any of the inactive ingredients in the type of gabapentin you plan to take. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the inactive ingredients.
  • you should know that gabapentin is available in different forms that may be prescribed for different uses. Ask your doctor to be sure that you are not taking more than one product that contains gabapentin.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: hydrocodone (in Hydrocet, in Vicodin, others), medications that make you feel dizzy or drowsy, morphine (Avinza, Kadian, MSIR, others), and naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn, others). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • if you are taking antacids such as Maalox or Mylanta, take them at least 2 hours before you take gabapentin tablets, capsules, or solution.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney disease. If you will be taking the extended-release tablets, also tell your doctor if you need to sleep during the day and stay awake at night.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking gabapentin, call your doctor.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking gabapentin.
  • you should know that this medication may make you drowsy or dizzy, may slow your thinking, and may cause loss of coordination. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you, and your doctor agrees that it is safe for you to begin these activities.
  • if you are giving gabapentin to your child, you should know that your child’s behavior and mental abilities may change while he or she is taking gabapentin. Your child may have sudden changes in mood, become hostile or hyperactive, have difficulty concentrating or paying attention, or be drowsy or clumsy. Have your child avoid activities that could be dangerous, such as riding a bicycle, until you know how gabapentin affects him or her.
  • remember that alcohol can add to the drowsiness caused by this medication.
  • you should know that your mental health may change in unexpected ways and you may become suicidal (thinking about harming or killing yourself or planning or trying to do so) while you are taking gabapentin for the treatment of epilepsy, mental illness, or other conditions. A small number of adults and children 5 years of age and older (about 1 in 500 people) who took anticonvulsants such as gabapentin to treat various conditions during clinical studies became suicidal during their treatment. Some of these people developed suicidal thoughts and behavior as early as one week after they started taking the medication. There is a risk that you may experience changes in your mental health if you take an anticonvulsant medication such as gabapentin, but there may also be a risk that you will experience changes in your mental health if your condition is not treated. You and your doctor will decide whether the risks of taking an anticonvulsant medication are greater than the risks of not taking the medication. You, your family, or your caregiver should call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: panic attacks; agitation or restlessness; new or worsening irritability, anxiety, or depression; acting on dangerous impulses; difficulty falling or staying asleep; aggressive, angry, or violent behavior; mania (frenzied, abnormally excited mood); talking or thinking about wanting to hurt yourself or end your life; withdrawing from friends and family; preoccupation with death and dying; giving away prized possessions; or any other unusual changes in behavior or mood. Be sure that your family or caregiver knows which symptoms may be serious so they can call the doctor if you are unable to seek treatment on your own.
Gabapentin warnings

Gabapentin oral capsule comes with several warnings. Call your doctor if you start having more seizures or a different kind of seizure while taking this drug.

Drowsiness warning

Gabapentin can slow your thinking and motor skills and cause drowsiness and dizziness. It’s not known how long these effects last. You should not drive or use heavy machinery while taking this drug until you know how it affects you.

Depression warning

Using this drug increases your risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Talk to your doctor if you feel depressed or notice any changes in your mood or behavior. Also talk to your doctor if you are having thoughts of harming yourself, including suicide.

Multiorgan hypersensitivity/DRESS warning

This medication can cause multiorgan hypersensitivity. This is also known as a drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS). This syndrome can be life-threatening. Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms such as a rash, a fever, or swollen lymph nodes.

Allergy warning

Gabapentin can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • hives
  • rash

Don’t take this drug again if you have ever had an allergic reaction to it before. Taking it a second time after any allergic reaction to it could be fatal (cause death).

Alcohol interaction warning

Avoid drinking alcohol while taking gabapentin. Gabapentin can cause sleepiness, and drinking alcohol can make you even more sleepy. Alcohol can also make you more likely to feel dizzy and have trouble concentrating.

Warnings for people with certain health conditions

For people with epilepsy: Don’t stop taking gabapentin suddenly. Doing this can increase your risk of having a condition called status epilepticus. This is a medical emergency during which short or long seizures occur for 30 minutes or more.

Gabapentin can cause problems in children aged 3–12 years who have epilepsy. It raises their risk of thought problems as well as behavioral problems, such as being hyper and acting hostile or restless.

For people with kidney problems: Your body processes this drug more slowly than normal. This may cause the drug to increase to dangerous levels in your body. Talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.

Warnings for other groups

For pregnant women: The use of gabapentin has not been studied in humans during pregnancy. Research in animals has shown negative effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug. However, animal studies don’t always predict the way humans would respond.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Call your doctor if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

If your doctor prescribes gabapentin for you while you’re pregnant, ask about the NAAED Pregnancy Registry. This registry tracks the effects of anti-seizure drugs on pregnancy. Information can be found at aedpregnancyregistry.org.

For women who are breastfeeding: Gabapentin may pass into breast milk and cause serious side effects in a breastfeeding child. Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. You should decide together if you should stop taking this drug or stop breastfeeding.

For seniors: Kidney function may decrease with age. You may process this drug more slowly than younger people. Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose so that too much of this drug does not build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be dangerous.

For children: Gabapentin has not been studied in children for the management of postherpetic neuralgia. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years. This drug should not be used to treat partial seizures in children younger than 3 years.

What are the Precautions when taking gabapentin (Neurontin®)?

Before taking gabapentin, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to gabapentin enacarbil; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using Gabapentin (buy neurontin® online), tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: kidney disease, mental/mood problems (such as depression, thoughts of suicide), use/abuse of drugs/alcohol.

This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy or cause blurred vision. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness or clear vision until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages.

Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).

Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially swelling of the hands/ankles/feet, dizziness, or loss of coordination. Dizziness and loss of coordination can increase the risk of falling.

Children may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially mental/mood/behavior changes (such as hostility, problems concentrating, restlessness).

During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.

Gabapentin passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Gabapentin OVERDOSE

A lethal dose of gabapentin was not identified in mice and rats receiving single oral doses as high as 8000 mg/kg. Signs of acute toxicity in animals included ataxia, labored breathing, ptosis, sedation, hypoactivity, or excitation.

Acute oral overdoses of NEURONTIN up to 49 grams have been reported. In these cases, double vision, slurred speech, drowsiness, lethargy, and diarrhea were observed. All patients recovered with supportive care. Coma, resolving with dialysis, has been reported in patients with chronic renal failure who were treated with NEURONTIN.

Gabapentin can be removed by hemodialysis. Although hemodialysis has not been performed in the few overdose cases reported, it may be indicated by the patient’s clinical state or in patients with significant renal impairment.

If overexposure occurs, call your poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

 

Gabapentin may interact with other medications

 

Gabapentin oral capsule can interact with several other medications. Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some can interfere with how well a drug works, while others can cause increased side effects.

Below is a list of medications that can interact with gabapentin. This list does not contain all drugs that may interact with gabapentin.

Before taking gabapentin, be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Pain drugs

When used with gabapentin, certain pain drugs can increase its side effects, such as tiredness. Examples of these drugs include:

  • morphine

Stomach acid drugs

When used with gabapentin, certain drugs used to treat stomach acid problems can reduce the amount of gabapentin in your body. This can make it less effective. Taking gabapentin 2 hours after taking these drugs can help prevent this problem. Examples of these drugs include:

  • aluminum hydroxide
  • magnesium hydroxide

Important considerations for taking gabapentin

 

Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes gabapentin oral capsule for you.

General

Gabapentin oral capsules can be taken with or without food. Taking them with food can help to reduce upset stomach.

Storage

  • Store gabapentin at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

Refills

A prescription for this medication is refillable. You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you, such as in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Be sure to carry with you the prescription-labeled box that your medication came in.
  • Do not put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor will monitor your kidney function.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for gabapentin. This means your doctor will need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.