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Longstanding diabetes may result in damage to nerves, a condition known as ‘diabetic neuropathy’. Damage to nerve ending may cause numbness as well as pain. Neuropathic pain can be very severe and often requires strong medication to control it.
This document will discuss the role of Gabapentin in painful Diabetic Neuropathy. The use of Gabapentin as a drug to control epilepsy will not be considered.
Gabapentin is one of the many drugs licensed for treatment of neuropathic pain. Anticonvulsants are drugs used to prevent epileptic seizures or fits. Over the past seven years it has been widely used to reduce the pain of chronic neuropathy.
Gabapentin may help to
1. reduce the severity of the pain caused by chronic neuropathy
2. improve mood and qualtiy of life
3. reduce sleep disturbance associated with chronic pain
Gabapentin will not do anything to reverse the changes of neuropathy.
Your doctor will consider prescribing Gabapentin if you have severe pain best described as shooting, searing or burning, which is not relieved by other conventional forms of pain relief.
Gabapentin (Neurontin) is available in capsules of 300 mg. The recommended starting does is 300 mg daily increased progressively to a maximum of 1.8 gm (6 capsules) daily.
There are a large number of side effects which may limit your being able to take this medication
- dry mouth
- feeling tired
- drowsiness and fatigue
- feeling anxious and emotional
A full list of side effects will be included with your prescription.
If you have been on Gabapentin for a while avoid stopping the drug suddenly. This may cause anxiety and inability to sleep. Taper the dose over one or two weeks.
Should taking the medication make you drowsy, avoid driving.
Dr Nishan Wijenaike
West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust
Bury St Edmunds