Lyrica is the first medicine approved by the FDA to treat fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a condition wherein a person suffering from it experiences chronic widespread muscle pain all over. There are many types of medicines used to treat fibromyalgia, Lyrica being one of them.
What is Lyrica?
Lyrica is a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drug for the treatment of fibromyalgia. It is a drug that targets nerve signals.
Lyrica is not an antidepressant or a narcotic, it has long been used to relieve nerve pain in patients with shingles and diabetic neuropathy.
In June 2007, Lyrica (pregabalin) became the first FDA-approved drug for specifically treating fibromyalgia.
Before being approved for fibromyalgia, Lyrica was approved for the management of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, post-herpetic neuralgia, and seizures.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, Lyrica reduces pain and improves function in some people with fibromyalgia. It is, however, not known how the mechanism by which Lyrica produces its effects.
How does Lyrica work?
There are no known studies of how Lyrica works in fibromyalgia patients. However, some studies suggest that overactive nerves may be responsible for the fibromyalgia pains and Lyrica is believed to calm these overactive nerves.
A study carried out on animals revealed that Lyrica reduces the extra electrical signals sent out by overactive nerves.
It is also believed that the overactive nerves are a result of an imbalance of three naturally occurring chemicals in the body. Lyrica is believed to rebalance these chemicals.
The Benefits of Lyrica
Lyrica is said to reduce pain, improve sleep, and enhance bodily functions in people with fibromyalgia. According to a clinical study, fibromyalgia patients who took Lyrica has helped relieve the pains compared to fibromyalgia patients who took a placebo.
The study reported that 53 percent of the patients who took Lyrica reported having less pain while only thirty-three percent of the patients who took placebo reported reduced pain. Some of the patients reported having fewer fibromyalgia pains as early as one week.
In another six-month trial, most patients felt significant fibromyalgia pain relief after three months of treatment with Lyrica and continued to feel less pain at the end of the trial.
Some researchers suggest that Lyrica helps in reducing the number of nerve signals, and as a result calms down sensitive nerve cells.
According to the FDA, there is data suggesting that Lyrica affects the release of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit signals from one neuron to another and treatment with Lyrica may reduce the level of pain experienced by some people with fibromyalgia.
Side Effects of Lyrica
Even though Lyrica can help people suffering from fibromyalgia, it has various side effects. Lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions.
Some signs of allergic reactions include swelling of your face, mouth, lips, gums, and tongue. Therefore, it is important to consult your doctor before taking any Lyrica.
Drugs that react with Lyrica
There are some drugs that react with Lyrica if taken together. It is, therefore, important to let your doctor know about other medications that you take.
- ACE inhibitors: It a blood pressure medicine. If taken together with Lyrica it can cause swelling and rashes.
- Avandia or Actos: These are diabetes medicines and if taken together with Lyrica, it can cause a higher risk of swelling and weight gain.
- Oxycodone and Lorazepam: the combination of these medicines and Lyrica increases the chances of dizziness and sleepiness.
- Sleep medicines and Lyrica can cause drowsiness.
Some of the side effects are as follows:
- Weight gain
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Swelling of hands and feet
- Balanced disorder
- Increased appetite
According to a fibromyalgia survey conducted in 2007, in a three-month trial of Lyrica, nine percent of the patients gained weight of more than seven percent, and it kept on increasing over time. This may lead to various other conditions related to weight.
The side effects of Lyrica depend on the amount of Lyrica that a person consumes. The higher the dose you take the higher the chances of side effects.
How to take Lyrica?
Lyrica comes in a capsule form and is taken two times a day. The doses range from 150 milligrams to 450 milligrams a day.
Before you take any Lyrica for your fibromyalgia symptoms, you should consult your doctor who will provide you with the right dose. It is also important to note that if you miss a dose you should take it as soon as possible.
A patient on Lyrica should not stop the medication suddenly. It may cause a stop headache, diarrhea, and sleep problems. If you want to stop Lyrica, you should first consult your doctor and find ways to do so slowly.
It is important to note that fibromyalgia patients taking Lyrica should continue taking the drug even after experiencing pain relief. Refills should be well planned ahead so that it does not run out.
Some Tips in taking Lyrica
- Try to take your Lyrica dose at the same time every day.
- Try taking Lyrica in combination with other daily activities like eating meals
- Lyrica can be taken with or without food
- Tell your doctor about the other medications that you are on
- Never drink alcohol while on Lyrica
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult their doctor before taking any Lyrica
- Do not drive, since Lyrica can cause dizziness and sleepiness.
It is very important for a fibromyalgia patient to weigh in the benefits and the risks of Lyrica.
You should understand the dose, usage, side effects and others associated with Lyrica. Although it may help in reducing fibromyalgia pains, one should be very cautious while taking it.
For example, patients who previously had a drug or alcohol-related problems or have been an addict to drugs or alcohol may misuse Lyrica. Therefore, it is important to let your doctor know about your medical history.