There are roughly 30 million prescriptions written each year in the United States for the drug gabapentin to treat various chronic pain conditions. Patients sometimes shy away from asking their doctor and pharmacist about the drugs that are prescribed to them, so here are 6 quick facts about gabapentin that are useful for facilitating a discussion between you and your healthcare provider.

  1. Gabapentin, sometimes know by its brand name Neurontin, was invented to treat seizures.
  2. Gabapentin has also been approved by the FDA to treat post herpetic neuralgia, better known as nerve pain after shingles and restless leg syndrome.
  3. Gabapentin is often prescribed to treat several conditions that it has not been approved for, such diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, chronic headaches,  and mood disorders, although data suggests it may not be that effective for these conditions.
  4. The main side effect for gabapentin is feeling sleepy, and many people have a tough time functioning when taking it.  Some people can’t drive when taking gabapentin and you should not operate heavy machinery while taking this medication.
  5. Weight gain can be a significant issue for some patients taking gabapentin, although the issue is not as severe as with the second generation of the drug, Lyrica.
  6. You have to be careful when stopping taking gabapentin, because it is intended to treat seizures, theoretically stopping this medication abruptly may cause seizures in people who have never had them before.

Talk to your healthcare provider about gabapentin to make sure it is the right drug for your condition and lifestyle. Always ask your doctor about prescription and non-prescription alternatives to drugs that you don’t feel comfortable taking, and always inform your doctor of any vitamins, herbs and dietary supplements that you are taking prior to starting a new drug therapy.