Gabapentin Dosage Chart, Gabapentin Dosage for Adults and Gabapentin Dosage for Children

Gabapentin is a generic prescription drug that is FDA-approved as an add-on treatment with other medications for partial seizures in those with epilepsy.

It can also be used to treat nerve pain from postherpetic neuralgia (a complication of shingles). Gabapentin is frequently prescribed off-label for many other conditions, such as diabetic peripheral neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and alcohol dependence.

Gabapentin is typically prescribed as a generic, but the drug is also available under the brand names Neurontin and Gralise. Some patients may be prescribed drugs very similar to gabapentin—such as Horizant (gabapentin enacarbil) or Lyrica (pregabalin)—instead of gabapentin.

Gabapentin is taken as a tablet, capsule, or oral liquid. Dosing will depend on the condition being treated, age of the person being treated, and kidney function. The usual dose for epilepsy starts at 300 mg on the first day. The dose can then be increased until an effective dose is reached, which is usually 300 to 600mg taken three times per day.

Gabapentin dosage forms and strengths

 

Gabapentin is taken by mouth as a tablet, capsule, or oral solution.

    • Tablets: 600 or 800 mg per tablet
    • Capsules: 100, 300, or 400 mg per capsule
    • Liquid: 250 mg per 5 milliliters (ml) oral liquid

Gabapentin dosage for adults

For adults, the gabapentin dosage can vary widely depending on the condition being treated. Upon starting treatment with gabapentin, the starting dose may be 100 to 300 mg per day and steadily increase until an effective dose is reached. The maximum dosage will depend on the condition being treated.

  • Standard gabapentin dosage for adults: 300-600 mg taken three times per day.
  • Maximum gabapentin dosage for adults: 1200 mg taken three times per day for a maximum daily dose of 3600 mg.

Gabapentin dosage for children

Gabapentin is FDA approved as a secondary treatment for partial seizures in children 3 years or older with epilepsy. The use of gabapentin in children for any other medical condition is not FDA-approved. Dosing will be determined by both the child’s age and weight.

by both the child’s age and weight.

Gabapentin dosage by age for children older than 3 years
Age (yr) Recommended dosage
3-4 yrs 40 mg per kg (18.2 mg/lb) of body weight divided into three dosesMaximum: 50 mg per kg (22.7 mg/lb) of body weight daily
5-11 yrs 20-35 mg per kg (9.1-15.9 mg/lb) of body weight divided into three dosesMaximum: 50 mg per kg (22.7 mg/lb) of body weight daily
12 yrs or older 300-600 mg taken three times per dayMaximum: 3600 mg per day

 

 

Gabapentin dosage chart
Indication Age Standard dosage Maximum dosage
Partial seizures
12 years and older 300-600 mg three times per day 3600 mg per day
5-11 years 25-35 mg/kg (11.4-15.9 mg/lb) per day divided into three daily doses 50 mg/kg (22.7 mg/lb) per day
3-4 years 40 mg/kg (18.2 mg/lb) per day divided into three daily doses 50 mg/kg (22.7 mg/lb) per day
Postherpetic neuralgia 18 years and older 300 mg on day 1, 300 mg twice daily on day 2, then 300 mg three times daily on day 3; dosage may be further increased after day 3 to 600 mg three times per day 1800 mg per day
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy 18 years and older 300-1200 mg three times per day (off-label) 3600 mg per day
Fibromyalgia 18 years and older 600 mg twice daily and 1200 mg at bedtime (off-label) 2400 mg per day
Alcohol dependence 18 years and older 300-600 mg three times per day (off-label) 1800 mg per day

Gabapentin dosage for partial seizures

Gabapentin is FDA approved as adjunctive therapy for partial seizures in adults and children 3 years of age or older.

  • Standard gabapentin dosage for adults: 300 to 600 mg taken three times per day by mouth.
  • Maximum gabapentin dosage for adults: 3600 mg daily in three divided doses.
  • Renally impaired patients (kidney disease)—dose amount and dose frequency adjustment:
    1. Creatinine clearance of 30-59 ml/min: 200 to 700 mg twice per day
    2. Creatinine clearance of 16-29 ml/min: 200 to 700 mg once per day
    3. Creatinine clearance of 15 ml/min or less: 100 to 300 mg once per day decreased proportionately (1/15 per whole number value) for each decrease in creatinine clearance
    4. Hemodialysis: dose is dependent on estimated creatinine clearance; a supplemental dose of 125 to 350 mg is given after dialysis

Gabapentin dosage for nerve pain due to shingles (postherpetic neuralgia)

Gabapentin is FDA approved to treat postherpetic neuralgia, that is, neuropathic pain due to shingles (herpes zoster).

  • Standard gabapentin dosage for adults: 300 to 600 mg taken three times per day by mouth.
  • Maximum gabapentin dosage for adults: 1800 mg daily in three divided doses.
  • Renally impaired patients (kidney disease): See dosage for renal impaired patients above

Gabapentin dosage for neuropathic pain

Gabapentin is most frequently prescribed off-label to treat nerve pain (neuralgia) due to nerve damage (neuropathy), compression, or irritation.

  • Standard gabapentin dosage for adults: 300 to 1200 mg taken three times per day by mouth.
  • Maximum gabapentin dosage for adults: 3600 mg daily in three divided doses.
  • Renally impaired patients (kidney disease): See dosage for renal impaired patients above

Gabapentin dosage for fibromyalgia

Gabapentin is used off-label to reduce fatigue, provide pain relief, and improve sleep in patients with fibromyalgia.

  • Standard gabapentin dosage for adults: 600 mg twice daily and 1200 mg at bedtime.
  • Maximum gabapentin dosage for adults: 2400 mg daily.
  • Renally impaired patients (kidney disease): See dosage for renal impaired patients above

Gabapentin dosage for alcohol dependence

Gabapentin is widely used off-label to reduce insomnia and cravings in people with alcohol use disorder, particularly those in the maintenance phase of alcohol abstinence.

  • Standard gabapentin dosage for adults: 300 to 600 mg taken three times per day by mouth.
  • Maximum gabapentin dosage for adults: 1800 mg daily in three divided doses.
  • Renally impaired patients (kidney disease): See dosage for renal impaired patients above

Gabapentin dosage for pets

You should not give gabapentin to animals unless a veterinarian has given the animal a prescription for gabapentin. Veterinarians frequently prescribe gabapentin to treat seizures or chronic nerve pain in pets and large animals. The recommended dose is 5-10 mg per kilogram of body weight (2.3-4.5 mg/lb) every 12 hours, but dosing will vary between veterinarians. Gabapentin dosages can vary from 3 to 11 mg per kilogram (1.4 to 5 mg per pound) as an analgesic to 10 to 30 mg mg per kilogram (4.5 to 13.6 per pound) as an anticonvulsant. As with people, the dose may start small and steadily increase until an effective dose is reached.

Gabapentin Dosing for Neuropathic Pain

First, we must consider the different neuropathic pain types. Neuropathic pain can be diverse in nature, encompassing a wide range of pain types, including post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), and painful cancer-related neuropathies.

Gabapentin has been shown to be beneficial in treating several types of neuropathic pain; however, the mechanism of action by which gabapentin exerts its analgesic effect is still unknown.

It is suggested that gabapentin may block the calcium channel alpha(2)delta (a2d)-1 receptor in the brain. This protein-modulated receptor is involved in excitatory synapse formation. Therefore, the therapeutic effects of gabapentin may be attributed to prevention of new synapse formations.

Gabapentin was shown to offer substantial improvement in neuropathic pain with side effects that were similar to those on placebo.

Even with sufficient data supporting the use of gabapentin in the treatment of various neuropathic pain conditions, gabapentin only has Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for PHN. Dosing recommendations for off-label use of gabapentin can be somewhat ambiguous, if a recommendation exists at all. Therefore, several studies further investigate dosing regimens specific to other neuropathic pain syndromes.

Gabapentin Dosing Considerations

Three gabapentin products are FDA approved to treat PHN. The different formulations cannot be interchanged and each has its own dosing schedule.

    • For immediate-release gabapentin (Neurontin), dosing may be initiated with 300 mg on day 1, doubled on day 2 (300 mg twice a day), and tripled on day 3 (300 mg 3 times a day). The dose can then be titrated up as needed for pain relief to a maximum dose of 1,800 mg daily (divided into 3 daily doses). Clinical studies referenced in the package insert state that efficacy for a range of doses from 1,800 mg/day to 3,600 mg/day were observed; however, there was no additional benefit seen with doses greater than 1,800 mg/d.
    • Gralise is an extended-release gabapentin formulation that also is FDA approved for PHN with a titration schedule that begins with 300 mg on day 1; 600 mg on day 2; 900 mg on days 3 to 6; 1,200 mg on days 7 to 10; 1,500 mg on days 11 to 14; and 1,800 mg on day 15 and thereafter.
    • The third gabapentin formulation for PHN treatment is another extended-release product, Horizant. The starting dose is 600 mg in the morning for 3 days, increased to 600 mg twice daily on day 4 and thereafter. A daily dose of Horizant greater than 1,200 mg provided no additional benefit at the expense of side effects.

Several studies have evaluated off-label use of gabapentin in the treatment of other neuropathic pain conditions. A randomized, double-blind trial compared gabapentin to placebo in 135 patients with DPN over 8 weeks. The results showed a statistical benefit of gabapentin compared to placebo, at all end points, for pain improvement.

The gabapentin dosing regimen used in this study was 900 mg/d for week 1; 1,800 mg/d for week 2; 2,400 mg/d for week 3; and 3,600 mg/d for week 4. All the patients were titrated up to a dose of 3,600 mg/d, regardless of efficacy at lower doses. Patients who could not tolerate this dose were titrated down to the greatest tolerable dose.

Of the 84 patients randomized to the gabapentin group, 56 (67%) were able to tolerate 3,600 mg/d. During the first week, gabapentin resulted in improvement in sleep interference compared to placebo.

By the second week, gabapentin resulted in improvement in all pain rating scales compared to placebo. Of the 84 patients in the gabapentin group, 70 completed the study, and 7 patients withdrew due to adverse drug events (ADEs). Most ADEs reported in the gabapentin group were of mild or moderate intensity, and the most frequently reported effects were dizziness (23.8%), somnolence (22.6%), headache (10.7%), diarrhea (10.7%), confusion (8.3%), and nausea (8.3%).

A double-blind crossover study (n=40) assessed gabapentin for the treatment of DPN. The dose of gabapentin used in this trial was much lower, with patients titrated up every 3 days to a maximum dose of 900 mg/d. The end points evaluated in this study included level of pain on a visual analog pain scale (VAS), and scores on the present pain intensity scale, the McGill pain questionnaire (MPQ), and the global assessment of pain relief.

Statistical improvement between gabapentin and placebo was noted in only 1 end point, the MPQ score, with a mean reduction of 8.9 points for gabapentin compared to 2.2 points with placebo (P=0.03). No serious ADEs were noted, and the most common ADEs of gabapentin were drowsiness, fatigue, and imbalance. The results of this study suggest that gabapentin is not effective or is only minimally effective in treating painful DPN at a dose of 900 mg/d.5

A search in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews was conducted to further examine dosing regimens for neuropathic pain. In a review analyzing 37 studies for gabapentin treatment in chronic neuropathic pain, the main outcome was Initiative on Methods, Measurement, and Pain Assessment in Clinical Trials (IMMPACT) definitions for moderate and substantial benefit in chronic pain studies.6 These were defined as follows:

  • 30% reduction in pain over baseline (moderate)
  • 50% reduction in pain over baseline (substantial)
  • Much or very much improved on Patient Global Impression of Change (PGIC) (moderate)
  • Very much improved on PGIC (substantial)
  • Gabapentin was shown to be better than placebo across all studies for IMMPACT outcomes. The review concentrated on gabapentin doses of 1,200 mg/d or greater and reported that doses at or above this threshold were reasonably effective for treatment of various neuropathic pain types.

 

The upper threshold for maximum effective gabapentin doses ranged from 2,400 mg/d to 3,600 mg/d in the majority of studies reviewed.

ADEs and withdrawal rates for patients taking gabapentin doses of 1,200 mg/d or greater were compared to those for patients taking placebo in 20 studies with 4,125 participants. Common ADEs seen were somnolence, drowsiness, and sedation.

These occurred in 14% of participants in the gabapentin group versus 5% of those taking placebo. Data also showed gabapentin was associated with a higher incidence of dizziness (19% vs 5%), peripheral edema (7% vs 2.2%), and ataxia or gait disturbances (8.8% vs 1.1%).

The rate of serious events was similar between gabapentin and placebo groups. Twenty-two studies involving 4,448 patients reported on participant withdrawals due to ADEs, which occurred in 11% of patients taking gabapentin compared to 7.9% of those taking placebo.6

Postmarketing Abuse

Postmarketing reports have described symptoms of agitation, confusion, and disorientation upon abrupt withdrawal of gabapentin. Cases usually involve other potentiating factors, such as the use of higher than recommended doses for unapproved indications, a history of poly-substance abuse, or the use of gabapentin to relieve symptoms of withdrawal from other substances.In a study of postmortem toxicology, cases that tested positive for gabapentin or pregabalin were included to determine if abuse of these drugs contributed to the fatalities. Of the 13,766 cases investigated, 0.31% were positive for gabapentin. Of the gabapentin cases, 18.6% were considered abuse, and 4.7% were poisonings. An overwhelming majority of abuse cases (87.5%) also involved opioid intoxication, and 100% involved alcohol and/or opioids. In addition, a greater number of pregabalin cases were designated as abuse cases than gabapentin cases (48.1% vs 18.6%, respectively).7

Conclusion

Gabapentin has sufficient evidence showing its efficacy and safety in treating neuropathic pain. Effective treatment doses of gabapentin for neuropathic pain tend to be higher compared to effective treatment doses for other conditions. Gabapentin is a relatively safe medication. The most prevalent effects seen are drowsiness, somnolence, and sedation. It is necessary to start at lower doses of gabapentin and titrate up to a therapeutic dose. Ataxia and somnolence appear to exhibit a positive dose-response relationship; therefore, titrating the dose of gabapentin may help manage possible ADEs.

What is the Action Mechanism of Gabapentin ? Is Gabapentin Addictive ?

signs someone is addicted to gabapentin

The chemical structure of gabapentin (Neurontin) is derived by addition of a cyclohexyl group to the backbone of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Gabapentin prevents seizures in a wide variety of models in animals, including generalized tonic-clonic and partial seizures.

Gabapentin has no activity at GABAA or GABAB receptors of GABA uptake carriers of brain. Gabapentin interacts with a high-affinity binding site in brain membranes, which has recently been identified as an auxiliary subunit of voltage-sensitive Ca2+ channels. However, the functional correlate of gabapentin binding is unclear and remains under study.

Gabapentin crosses several lipid membrane barriers via system L amino acid transporters. In vitro, gabapentin modulates the action of the GABA synthetic enzyme, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) and the glutamate synthesizing enzyme, branched-chain amino acid transaminase.

Results with human and rat brain NMR spectroscopy indicate that gabapentin increases GABA synthesis. Gabapentin increases non-synaptic GABA responses from neuronal tissues in vitro. In vitro, gabapentin reduces the release of several mono-amine neurotransmitters.

Gabapentin prevents pain responses in several animal models of hyperalgesia and prevents neuronal death in vitro and in vivo with models of the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Gabapentin is also active in models that detect anxiolytic activity.

Although gabapentin may have several different pharmacological actions, it appears that modulation of GABA synthesis and glutamate synthesis may be important.

Is Gabapentin Addictive ?

Asking about the signs someone is addicted to gabapentin first begs the question: What is gabapentin?

To answer that question requires putting gabapentin in perspective as a pharmaceutical drug that, while providing relief to thousands of people for nerve pain, also has the potential for abuse. It isn’t an opioid, but it has found a niche audience among those who take it recreationally, and for doctors who began to seek alternatives to narcotics as the opioid epidemic reached its apex, it seemed like a safer alternative.

In 2016, gabapentin was the 10th most prescribed drug in the United States, with 64 million prescriptions written that year . That was up from 39 million prescriptions written only four years earlier, in large part because “gabapentin, an anticonvulsant and analgesic for postherpetic neuralgia, has been thought to have no abuse potential despite numerous published reports to the contrary,” according to a 2018 article in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

In that particular article, researchers analyzed data from a study of drug users in Kentucky who reported using gabapentin for non-medical purposes. Their findings? “Overall, the sample reported having initiated gabapentin more than 10 years earlier after having it prescribed for a legitimate, though generally off-label, medical indication (e.g., pain, anxiety, opioid detoxification). Participants reported use of gabapentin in combination with buprenorphine, other opioids, cocaine, and caffeine to produce sought-after central nervous system effects (e.g., muscle relaxation, pain reduction, sleep induction, feeling drunk, and feeling ‘high’).”

Gabapentin, such studies reveal, can be problematic. Whether used in conjunction with other drugs or on its own, it can be abused, which makes it a substance of concern. To understand the signs someone is addicted to gabapentin, however, requires some knowledge of what it is, where it comes from, how it works and how it can be addictive.

Comparative Studies

Gabapentin and lamotrigine have been compared in an open, parallel-group, add-on, randomized study in 109 patients with uncontrolled partial epilepsy and learning disabilities. The two drugs were similarly efficacious, with similar incidences of adverse events and serious adverse events. Neither lamotrigine nor gabapentin exacerbated any of the challenging behaviors observed in these patients.

The most common adverse reaction to gabapentin was somnolence, which was mostly reported during the initial titration phase.

In a double-blind comparison of gabapentin and lamotrigine in 309 patients with new-onset partial or generalized seizures, the target doses were gabapentin 1800 mg/day and lamotrigine 150 mg/day.

Severe adverse events were reported in 11% of patients taking gabapentin and 9.3% of patients taking lamotrigine. Two patients had serious adverse events thought to be related to the study drug; one took an overdose of gabapentin and the other had convulsions with lamotrigine. The most frequent treatment-related adverse events in both treatment groups were dizziness, weakness, and headache; 11% of patients taking gabapentin and 15% of those taking lamotrigine withdrew because of adverse events. There was an increase of over 7% in body weight from baseline in 14% of the patients taking gabapentin and 6.6% of those taking lamotrigine. There were benign rashes in 4.4% of those taking gabapentin and 11% of those taking lamotrigine.

The hypothesis that both amitriptyline and gabapentin are more effective in relieving neuropathic pain than diphenhydramine has been tested in a randomized, double-blind, triple crossover, 8-week trial in 38 adults with spinal cord injuries [18]. Maximum daily doses were 2600 mg for gabapentin and 150 mg for amitriptyline.

Amitriptyline was more efficacious in relieving neuropathic pain than diphenhydramine. Withdrawal because of possible adverse reactions occurred five times during gabapentin treatment:

(1) shortness of breath;

(2) dizziness, fatigue, and nausea;

(3) increased spasticity and pain;

(4) fatigue, drowsiness, constipation, and dry mouth; and

(5) severe itching.

The four most frequent adverse events were dry mouth, drowsiness, fatigue, and constipation, which were all more common with amitriptyline.

 

Gabapentin is Used to Treat Seizures and Postherpetic Neuralgia ?

What is gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a prescription drug. It comes as an oral capsule, an immediate-release oral tablet, an extended-release oral tablet, and an oral solution.

Gabapentin oral capsule is available as the brand-name drug Neurontin. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less than the brand-name version. In some cases, the brand-name drug and the generic version may be available in different forms and strengths.

Why it’s used

Gabapentin oral capsule is used to treat the following conditions:

    • Seizures: Gabapentin is used to treat partial (focal) seizures. It’s taken together with other seizure medications in adults and in children 3 years of age and older who have epilepsy.
    • Postherpetic neuralgia: This is pain from nerve damage caused by shingles, a painful rash that affects adults. Shingles appears after infection with the varicella zoster virus. This virus occurs in people who have had chicken pox.

Nerve pain can be a symptom of many different conditions, including cancer, 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:

    1. Autonomic nerves. These nerves control the involuntary or partially voluntary activities of your body, including heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and temperature regulation.
    2. Motor nerves. These nerves control your movements and actions by passing information from your brain and spinal cord to your muscles.
    3. 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.

What is Postherpetic Neuralgia ?

Postherpetic neuralgia (post-hur-PET-ik noo-RAL-juh) is the most common complication of shingles. The condition affects nerve fibers and skin, causing burning pain that lasts long after the rash and blisters of shingles disappear.

The chickenpox (herpes zoster) virus causes shingles. The risk of postherpetic neuralgia increases with age, primarily affecting people older than 60. There’s no cure, but treatments can ease symptoms. For most people, postherpetic neuralgia improves over time.

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:

    • Acupuncture
    • Biofeedback
    • Hypnosis
    • Meditation

Dosage for postherpetic neuralgia

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

    • Typical starting dosage: Day 1, 300 mg; day 2, 600 mg (300 mg two times per day, spaced evenly throughout the day); day 3, 900 mg (300 mg, three times per day, spaced evenly throughout the day). Your doctor may further increase your dosage after day 3.
    • Maximum dosage: 1,800 mg per day (600 mg, three times per day, spaced evenly throughout the day)

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

Dosage for people younger than 18 years has not been established.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

Your kidney function may decrease with age. Your body may get rid of this drug more slowly. Your doctor may start you on a lower 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. Your doctor may change your dose based on how well your kidneys are working.

Treatment for Postherpetic neuralgia

Postherpetic neuralgia is a nerve disease occurs after an attack of herpes zoster infection. Herpes zoster or ‘shingles’ is a viral infection which affects the skin, especially sides of the chest, caused by varicella zoster virus. This is the same virus which causes chicken pox in children.

After an episode of herpes, the virus remains dormant in the nerve tissues of the body. This virus may become active when the immunity of the individual reduces or during convalescence after a major illness, resulting in blisters on the skin, known as shingles. It is accompanied with a rash which disappears without major consequences in about two to four weeks. Around 50% of individuals with shingles go on to develop post herpetic neuralgia (PHN) or after-shingles pain.

The neuralgia begins when the herpetic eruptions begin to heal. The pain appears usually in the affected dermatone or the affected nerve course and results in severe pain in the region which has the same nerve supply. The pain is a drawing, pricking type of intense pain, sometimes accompanied with burning sensation of the skin. The pain lasts from a few weeks to few months, rarely years.

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 Causes

      • Severe rash within three days of shingles infection
      • A study shows that, 65% of patients were women
      • The chances of developing PHN, increases when the shingles occurs in persons over 50 years.
      • The incidence of herpes zoster is up to 15 times higher in HIV-infected patients than in uninfected persons, and as many as 25 percent of patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma develop herpes zoster.
      • Blacks are one fourth as likely as whites to develop this condition.
      • Site of HZ involvement
        • Lower risk – Jaw, neck, sacral, and lumbar
        • Moderate risk – Thoracic
        • Highest risk – Trigeminal (especially ophthalmic division), brachial plexus.

Signs and symptoms:

    • A pain that continues for 3 months or more, after the healing of shingles, is defined as PHN.
    • PHN pain may be burning, aching, itching and sharp and the pain can be constant or it can come and go
    • The skin which was affected with blisters, may show scarring
    • The involved dermatome may show altered sensations, either hypersensitivity or reduced sensitivity.
    • In rare cases, where if the nerves involved also control muscle movement, the patient might also experience muscle weakness, tremor or paralysis

Postherpetic Neuralgia Treatment:

The conventional treatment is directed at pain control while waiting for the condition to resolve.  Pain therapy may include multiple interventions, such as topical medications, over-the-counter analgesics, tricyclic antidepressants,  anticonvulsants and a number of non medical modalities. Occasionally, narcotics may be required.

When it comes to treating postherpetic neuralgia, you may need to take a combination of medications to effectively manage your pain and other PHN symptoms. No single treatment plan is right for everyone—what medications you take will depend on your PHN symptoms.

While symptoms differ from person to person, for most people, PHN does improve over time. Researchers found that more than half of all patients with PHN stop experiencing pain within one year.1

Fortunately, during that period of intense pain and other symptoms, there are certain medications that you can take to significantly help control postherpetic neuralgia symptoms.

Before trying a prescription medication, your doctor will most likely want you to try an over-the counter (OTC) analgesic (painkiller) medication, such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications can help relieve pain and other PHN symptoms.

Tylenol is an example of acetaminophen, and Advil is an example of an NSAID you can take to help treat PHN.

Another OTC medication you may want to try for PHN is capsaicin cream. This cream—made from hot chili pepper seeds—is applied to the affected skin, and it can be helpful for reducing PHN-related pain. But this cream can be painful, so talk to your doctor about how much you should apply.

If these medications aren’t strong enough to treat your PHN symptoms, your doctor may suggest some of the prescription medications below to treat your postherpetic neuralgia.

    • Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline (Elavil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), and desipramine (Norpramin) are effective at treating postherpetic neuralgia pain. Other classes of antidepressant are also helpful. All classes of antidepressant take a few weeks to start working.
    • Anticonvulsants, developed to control seizures, can help reduce the pain of PHN. These include gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol) and pregabalin (Lyrica). Gabapentin enacarbil (Horizant) and gabapentin (Gralise) are approved by the FDA for the treatment of PHN in adults.
    • Anti-viral drugs valacyclovir and acyclovir are also becoming medications of choice for treating postherpetic neuralgia.
    • Lidocaine Patches for Postherpetic Neuralgia. Lidocaine patches are FDA-approved to treat PHN. The medication in the patch—lidocaine—can penetrate your skin and go to the nerves that are sending the pain signals. A benefit of lidocaine patches is that they don’t numb the skin.
    • Prescription capsaicin patches. These patches contain a very high concentration of the chili pepper extract capsaicin. The capsaicin patch Qutenza is applied in a doctor’s office for one hour every three months.

If you have severe pain and other medications don’t work for you, your doctor may want you to try an opioid.  Tramadol (eg, Ultram) is an example of a relatively weak opioid that can be used to help you manage PHN. Your doctor may have you try a weaker opioid first.  Opioids, such as morphine (MS Contin), oxycodone (OxyContin), and hydrocodone (Vidocin), are also used to treat moderate to severe pain of postherpetic neuralgia.

Homoeopathic Medicine:

Mezereum – For Postherpetic Neuralgia with Intense Burning

Mezereum is rated among the best medicines for postherpetic neuralgia. It is the best-suited prescription when postherpetic neuralgic pains are violent and attended with marked burning.  Mezereum is the most helpful among medicines for postherpetic neuralgia in postherpetic pains located in the face. The pain in the face may get worse while eating.

Warmth brings relief. Mezereum is also helpful during active herpes zoster where eruptions are present. The key symptoms to look out for before prescribing Mezereum during herpes zoster infection are violently itching vesicles with shining red areola and intense burning.

2. Ranunculus Bulbosus – For Pains coming in Paroxysms

Another of the prominently indicated medicines for postherpetic neuralgia is Ranunculus Bulbosus. It is indicated for sharp, shooting, postherpetic neuralgic pains that come in paroxysms.

It is also one of the top listed medicines for intercostal neuralgia following herpetic infection. Ranunculus Bulbosus is also indicated for herpes zoster when the vesicles eruptions are bluish in colour. The eruptions are attended with itching and burning symptoms which worsen on contact.

3. Rhus Tox – One of the best Medicines for Postherpetic Neuralgia

Rhus Tox also figures on the list of highly effective medicines for postherpetic neuralgia. It is one of the best medicines for postherpetic neuralgia where the pains are attended with marked restlessness. The skin is sensitive to cold air in such cases. In herpes zoster, Rhus Tox is the most preferred among medicines when the vesicles are yellowish with itching and stinging.

Is Gabapentin ( Neurontin ) Addictive and How to Treat Gabapentin Addiction ?

Gabapentin is used with other medications to prevent and control seizures. It is also used to relieve nerve pain following shingles (a painful rash due to herpes zoster infection) in adults. Gabapentin is known as an anticonvulsant or antiepileptic drug.

Gabapentin, also known by the brand name Neurontin, is a prescription painkiller belonging to its own drug class, Gabapentinoids. It is considered an anti-convulsant, and is most commonly used to treat epilepsy, restless leg syndrome, hot flashes, and neuropathic pain. It is often used as a less-addictive alternative to opioids; however, Gabapentin addiction and abuse still occur in many patients.

Gabapentin has a similar chemical structure to Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the brain chemical which affects the body’s nervous system. It can produce feelings of relaxation and calmness, which can help with nerve pain, anxiety, and even poor sleep.

Gabapentin is prescribed to treat nerve pain, alcohol and cocaine withdrawals, restless leg syndrome, diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and seizures. It works by altering one’s calcium channels to reduce seizures and ease nerve pain. Some brand names of Gabapentin are Neurontin and Gralise. The drug’s known street names are “gabbies” or “johnnies.”

Dosages of Gabapentin

Adult and pediatric dosages:

Capsule

      • 100 mg
      • 300 mg
      • 400 mg

Tablet

      • 300 mg (Gralise)
      • 600 mg (Gralise, Neurontin)
      • 800 mg (Neurontin)

Dosage Considerations – Should be Given as Follows:

Reducing the dose, discontinuing the drug, or substituting an alternative medication should be done gradually over a minimum of 1 week or longer.

Geritric dosing considerations:

Renal impairment is present, gabapentin dose reduction may be required, depending on renal function.

Partial Seizures

Neurontin

Adjunctive therapy for partial seizures with or without secondary generalization.

Initial: 300 mg orally every 8 hours.

May increase up to 600 mg orally every 8 hours; up to 2400 mg/day administered and tolerated in clinical studies; up to 3600 mg administered for short duration and tolerated

Post herpetic Neuralgia

Neurontin

Day 1: 300 mg orally once per day.

Day 2: 300 mg orally every 12 hours.

Day 3: 300 mg orally every 8 hours.

Maintenance: Subsequently titrate as needed up to 600 mg orally every 8 hours; doses greater than 1800 mg/day have demonstrated no additional benefit.

Gralise

Dose gradually to 1800 mg/day orally; take once a day with evening meal.

Day 1: 300 mg orally once a day.

Day 2: 600 mg orally once a day.

Days 3-6: 900 mg orally once a day.

Days 7-10: 1200 mg orally once a day.

Days 11-14: 1500 mg orally once a day.

Day 15 and after (maintenance): 1800 mg orally once a day.

Dosing considerations:

Gralise tablets swell in gastric fluid and gradually release gabapentin. Swallow Gralise tablets whole; do not cut, crush, or chew them.

Dosing Modifications:

Renal impairment (Neurontin)

Creatinine clearance greater than 60 mL/min: 300-1200 mg orally twice daily

Creatinine clearance 30-60 mL/min: 200-700 mg every 12 hours

Creatinine clearance 15-29 mL/min: 200-700 mg once per day

Creatinine clearance less than 15 mL/min: 100-300 mg once per day

Hemodialysis (Creatinine clearance less than 15 mL/min):

Administer supplemental dose (range 125-350 mg) post hemodialysis, after each 4 hour dialysis interval; further dose reduction should be in proportion to Creatinine clearance (a Creatinine clearance of 7.5 mL/min should receive one-half daily post hemodialysis dose)

Renal impairment (Gralise):

Creatinine clearance is greater than or equal to 60 mL/min: 1800 mg daily with evening meal

Creatinine clearance 30-59 mL/min: 600-1800 mg daily with evening meal

Creatinine clearance greater than 30 mL/min or hemodialysis: Do not administer

In addition its potentially addictive nature, Gabapentin can cause suicidal thoughts, moods swings, and abrupt changes in a user’s behavior. It can also cause elevated blood pressure, fever, sleep problems, appetite changes, and chest pain.

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
      • difficulty breathing; bluish-tinged skin, lips, or fingernails; confusion; or extreme sleepiness

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).

Gabapentin Abuse

Gabapentin abuse tends to occur in people who already have an addiction to opioids or other drugs. The effects of Gabapentin intoxication have been described as a sense of calm, euphoria, and a high similar to marijuana.

A 2013 study in Kentucky found that of the 503 participants reporting illegal drug use, 15% reported using Gabapentin in addition to other drugs to get high in the previous six months. Another study, working with a sample of participants meant to represent the national population, found almost a quarter of patients with co-prescriptions of opioids and Gabapentin were getting more than three times their prescribed amount to supply their addiction. People using the drug without a prescription is a growing problem in many areas. Due to the drug’s legal status, this is difficult to address from a policing standpoint. States where Gabapentin abuse is becoming more common are beginning to classify the drug as a more strictly controlled substance.

Signs of a Gabapentin Overdose

Effects of excessive Gabapentin use include:

      • Drowsiness
      • Coordination problems
      • Tremors
      • Dizziness
      • Depression
      • Suicidal thoughts/behaviors
      • Changes in mood
      • Dizziness
      • Poor coordination
      • Forgetfulness
      • Anxiety
      • Difficulty speaking
      • Inability to feel pleasure

It is important to try to recognize these symptoms and to be wary of other red flags, such as the presence or abundance of pill bottles. These effects can be detrimental to one’s health, livelihood, and overall safety.

Many Gabapentin users in early recovery abuse Gabapentin because at high doses (800mg or more), they may experience a euphoric-like high that does not show up on drug screens. Gabapentin abusers typically take the drug in addition to opioids to produce their desired high, a dangerous and potentially deadly combination. It is possible to fatally overdose on Gabapentin, both on its own or in conjunction with other drugs. However, there is currently no antidote that can be administered to someone in the case of a Gabapentin overdose as there is with opioid overdoses. If you find a loved one showing signs of an overdose–drowsiness, muscle weakness, lethargy and drooping eyelids, diarrhea, and sedation—seek medical attention immediately.

Signs of Gabapentin Addiction

      • Lying about or exaggerating symptoms to doctors
      • Seeking out multiple doctors to get extra doses
      • Switching doctors after the original doctor refuses to continue prescribing the medication
      • Changes in social habits and/or circles
      • Changes in personal hygiene and grooming habits
      • Constant preoccupation with the drug
      • Unease at the thought of the drug being unavailable
      • Refusal to quit despite social, financial, or legal consequences
      • Failed attempts to quit

Treating a Gabapentin Addiction

Frequent and excessive use of Gabapentin can lead to a physical and psychological dependence on the drug. This is when someone becomes so accustomed to taking a drug that they need it to feel and function normally. Quitting a drug like Gabapentin cold turkey can be dangerous and induce several withdrawal symptoms of varying severity.

These include anxiety, insomnia, nausea, pain, and sweating. Quitting also increases one’s likelihood of having a seizure which can lead to personal injury or the development of medical problems and life-threatening emergencies. Trying to quit should be done at a rehab facility or with the guidance and supervision of a professional during a medical detox.