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Big Questions on Gabapentin Pills

Big Questions on Gabapentin Pills

By: Dr. Arnan Sisson

There’s usually one large blaring goal for most folks suffering from back pain. It's fairly simple, getting rid of all pain pills!

Clients dislike or an even better word would be hate pain medication. This is due to the fact that higher-level pain medications can be addictive. They can have some nasty side effects such as constipation, dry mouth, or even stomach ulcers with simple pain medications such as Tylenol. 

More importantly, I tell clients most of these medications dull pain through a single mechanism. That’s blunting inflammation. This is often the by-product of a mechanical problem of the back. And while you may bring down the inflammation with pain medication. The symptoms often times return over and over again in cases of mechanical back problems. The pills don’t eliminate the true origin of the pain, just the side effects.

So, the latest review on pain medication was done recently by the New York Times. It covers the popular drug Gabapentin. This medication is extremely common with folks who have back pain. And I’ve always taken great pleasure in getting my clients off this particular drug for good.

About 25 years ago this drug was just created for seizure disorders, and slowly but surely it's now being prescribed to folks with simple cases of back pain. In my practice, I’ve noticed its inefficiency. Many folks taking large doses of this stuff are still very restricted in what they can do. They’re unable to stand for more than a few minutes, tolerate a car seat, or even sleep with no discomfort. Usually, pain levels are still quite high with the stuff.

The folks at the University of South Carolina compared Gabapentin to a simple sugar pill. And guess what the difference was in pain control? Out of a 0-10 pain scale, there was only 1 point of pain difference between the sugar pill and this strong drug. Pretty crazy, huh?

So, the question we need to ask ourselves is whether this minuscule change in pain is worth the side effects? Which range from dizziness, difficulty walking, and even potential addiction (despite not being an opioid).

With Gabapentin not looking so hot as a back-pain solution here’s a better strategy. First, give your back pain one week. Many times, back pain is what I call “Chemical Back Pain.” This is just a short-term strain in the back muscles with lots of inflammation. Just place some ice on the painful area for 10-20 minutes throughout the day. And build up your activity levels slowly over the week (walking works great here).

If the back troubles don’t go away in a week, DO NOT head towards the Gabapentin, Injections, or even scary surgeries. Find a back specialist who is not only skilled at fixing your mechanical pain but is trained in preventing its reoccurrence.

That’s it for today, everyone, remember knowledge is power!

P.S. One thing I can say about my practice is that we live and breathe back pain! It’s what we specialize in and love treating. So, if your back or sciatic pain has hung around for a week or so, then please shoot us a call at (804) 493-3256. If you’re a good fit for our practice, then we’ll not only begin the process of fixing your back but provide specific strategies to keep it pain-free. This way you can avoid the addictive drugs and enjoy time with family and friends like you used to!