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What is Lyrica used to treat?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Dec 29, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

Key Points

Lyrica (pregabalin) is used to treat various nerve-related pain disorders in adults 18 years and older as well as a certain type of epilepsy in patients one month and older. These include:

  • fibromyalgia
  • nerve pain associated with diabetic neuropathy
  • nerve pain from shingles (postherpetic neuralgia)
  • nerve pain from spinal cord injury
  • as an add-on therapy for partial-onset seizures (epilepsy)

Nerve-related pain syndromes

Lyrica is thought to help “quiet” pain for certain conditions by calming the overactive nerves. Research studies in animal suggests that Lyrica reduces “extra” electrical signals or messages sent out by overactive nerves. Pain relief with Lyrica for nerve pain conditions can start after one week of treatment for some patients.

Fibromyalgia is thought to be due to overactive nerves that send messages through the body that cause feelings like pain and tenderness. Pain can occur all over the body, but may target the neck and shoulders. Pressure may lead to pain. Symptoms may fluctuate. Pain relief with Lyrica for fibromyalgia can start within one week for some patients.

Diabetic nerve pain (diabetic neuropathy) is due to high blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes. It often occurs in the legs and feet. Symptoms can include pain and numbness in feet and limbs, as well as problems with digestion, the heart or the urinary tract system. The damage is permanent, but symptoms can come and go. Pain relief with Lyrica for diabetic nerve pain can start as early as the first week for some patients. Lyrica CR can also be used to treat diabetic nerve pain.

Postherpetic neuralgia occurs in about 20% (1 in 5) of people who get shingles. The nerve pain that can occur after shingles can be severe and long-lasting. Shingles causes painful fluid-filled blisters on your skin and results from activation of a virus that stays in your nerves following a case of chickenpox. The pain can range from mild to severe. Lyrica CR can also be used to treat pain after shingles.

Spinal cord injuries can result in pain that can begin years after an injury. The pain can occur at the injury site, below the injury site, or anywhere else in the body. Symptoms may include burning, stabbing pain, numbness, tingling, sharp electric-like pain.

Epilepsy: Add-on therapy for partial-onset seizures

Epilepsy: The first FDA approval for Lyrica was in 2004 for the treatment of epilepsy. It is used specifically as an add-on therapy to other medicines for the treatment of partial-onset seizures in patients one month and older.

Lyrica works by slowing down impulses in the brain that cause seizures. Abnormal electrical nerve activity in the brain triggers a seizure. When the electrical activity is confined to just one part of the brain, it is known as a partial onset seizure.

Why is Lyrica a controlled drug?

Both Lyrica and Lyrica CR are classified as schedule V controlled substances because there have been reports of euphoria, increased happiness, an excited state, calmness, and a "high" similar to marijuana with use of pregabalin.

In general, medications in schedule V are considered to have a low potential for abuse compared to medicines in other schedules.

Learn more: Lyrica: 12 Things You Need to Know

Are side effects with Lyrica serious?

As with most drugs, Lyrica (pregabalin) has side effects that are both common and / or serious.

Most serious side effects that can occur with Lyrica happen in a small number of people, but it is important you are aware of them. Discuss these side effects with your doctor.

Serious, possibly life-threatening allergic reactions like angioedema (swelling of your hands, legs, and feet) or allergic reactions can occur with Lyrica or Lyrica CR. Patients or caregivers should stop the use of Lyrica or Lyrica CR and call the doctor or 911 immediately if you suspect any serious allergic reactions.

You may be having an allergic reaction that requires immediate care if you notice:

  • swelling of your face, mouth, lips, gums, tongue, throat or neck
  • you are having trouble breathing
  • you have a rash, hives (raised bumps on your skin) or blisters.

Lyrica may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a very small number of people, about 1 in 500. Suicidal thoughts and action can also occur with other medicines used to treat seizures. If you have suicidal thoughts or action, do not stop taking Lyrica without talking to your doctor.

Lyrica may cause swelling of your hands, legs, and feet (angioedema), which can be serious for people with heart problems.

Lyrica may cause serious breathing problems in some people. In Dec. 2019, the FDA warned that serious breathing difficulties may occur in patients using pregabalin. This includes opioid pain medications, other drugs that depress the central nervous system, and conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that reduce lung function. The elderly are also at higher risk.

Lyrica and Lyrica CR have also been commonly associated with side effects like:

  • drowsiness or sleepiness
  • dizziness
  • lack of coordination (ataxia)
  • weight gain
  • dry mouth
  • blurred vision
  • swelling of hands or feet
  • confusion

Because Lyrica can cause drowsiness of dizziness, you should not drive a car, use dangerous equipment or machines, or do other hazardous activities until you know how this drug affects you. Ask your doctor you can resume these activities.

These are not all of the side effects that can occur with Lyrica. Review the listing of side effects in more detail here. Discuss possible side effects and how to recognize the symptoms with your healthcare provider before you start treatment.

Who makes Lyrica?

Lyrica (pregabalin) is a brand name drug manufactured by Pfizer. It was originally approved in 2004 as an anticonvulsant. Since that time it has been approved for the various nerve-related pain disorders.

In 2017, the FDA approved Lyrica CR extended-release tablets as a once-daily therapy for the management of nerve pain from diabetic peripheral neuropathy and pain from shingles (herpes zoster). Lyrica CR is not approved for the management of fibromyalgia or as an adjunct therapy for partial onset seizures.

In July 2019, the FDA granted approval for the first generic versions of Lyrica, which may help you to save money. A generic formulation of Lyrica CR (the long-acting, once-daily form) is not yet available. Pfizer, the manufacturer of Lyrica may be able to offer a prescription copay card or assistance with the cost of your medication.

This is not all the information you need to know about Lyrica (pregabalin) for safe and effective use. Review the full product information here, and discuss this and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.

References
  • Derry S, Bell R, Straube S, et al. Pregabalin for neuropathic pain in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD007076. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007076.pub3
  • Lyrica.com. Pfizer. Accessed Dec. 29, 2020 at https://www.lyrica.com/
  • Lyrica (pregabalin) product information. Pfizer. New York, NY. Accessed Dec. 29, 2020 at http://labeling.pfizer.com/showlabeling.aspx?id=561

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