How Does Gabapentin Help Nerve Pain?

Man Suffering from Back Pain at Home
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ola Tarabzuni

Key Takeaways

  • Gabapentin serves as an anticonvulsant addressing seizures and nerve pain. It achieves pain relief by reducing excessive brain activity and calming hyperactive nerves.
  • The recommended dose for adult nerve pain ranges from 900 mg to 3,600 mg daily.
  • Relief from pain becomes noticeable within 7-22 days when taken consistently as directed.
  • Healthcare providers generally prescribe gabapentin for 3-6 months to ensure its maximum effects.

Gabapentin (Neurontin) is an anticonvulsant medication used for seizures and as a sedating agent. It eases nerve pain by reducing brain activity and calming hyperactive nerves. Adults take 900 mg-3,600 mg daily over two weeks for nerve pain. Effects appear in 7-22 days of taking gabapentin three times a day.
While not a potent painkiller like opioids, it helps nerve pain. Healthcare supervision is vital during its 3-6 month use.

Over-the-counter medications for pain, like Advil (ibuprofen), Naproxen, and aspirin, can help as a quick alternative to gabapentin for nerve pain management. It’s good to consult your healthcare provider before making any medication-related decision.

How does gabapentin help nerve pain?

Gabapentin helps with nerve pain by decreasing the neuronal activity in the brain, reducing neuronal transmission overall. All the hyperactivity in the body due to hyper nerve transmission gets reduced after the gabapentin dose.

Gabapentin (Neurontin) is an anticonvulsant prescription medication used to treat seizures that occur in different conditions like epilepsy and Parkinson’s (abrupt electrical disturbances in the brain). It also acts as a sedating agent treating insomnia and restlessness during nights in hyperactive or stressed individuals.

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What is the normal dosage of gabapentin for nerve pain?

The typical dosage of Gabapentin (Neurontin) for managing adult nerve pain ranges from 900mg to 3,600mg per day, divided into three separate doses for two weeks will start showing its effect of treating and decreasing nerve pain in the body.

Neurontin comes in 100, 300 or 400mg soft gelatin capsules (IR as an instant release or XR as an extended-release) with different dosing regimens as per healthcare provider.

Gabapentin has several uses ranging from treating seizures, insomnia, neuropathic pain, and hyperactive body movements, all depending on the dose of gabapentin prescribed for every medical condition.

How quickly does gabapentin work for nerve pain?

If taken an IR gabapentin 100mg three times a day, it will start showing its effects within two to three hours of taking the capsule, but in a tiny noticeable amount of pain will be felt reduced.

It usually will take 7 to 22 days minimum for gabapentin to show noticeable effects for nerve pain. It’s good to stick to the prescribed regimen and not skip the medication to observe pain treatment.

As per the study conducted by NIH for typically 4 to 12 weeks, it was concluded that in postherpetic neuralgia, more participants (32%) had substantial benefits (at least 50% pain relief) with gabapentin at 1200 mg daily.

In painful diabetic neuropathy, more participants of the study (38%) had substantial benefits (at least 50% pain relief ) with gabapentin at 1200 mg daily for 12 weeks.

Is gabapentin a very strong painkiller?

Gabapentin is not a very strong painkiller as it’s not basically used for treating pain like opioids or painkillers. Gabapentin is not the most potent painkiller to be dispensed. Instead, it is commonly utilized to treat and reduce nerve-related pain and falls within the class of anticonvulsant medications.

According to research conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it has been found that administering Gabapentin within the range of 1800 mg to 3600 mg per day (equivalent to 1200 mg to 3600 mg of gabapentin) can effectively offer substantial pain relief for individuals dealing with postherpetic neuralgia and peripheral diabetic neuropathy.

It is crucial to emphasize that the effectiveness of gabapentin can diverge significantly from person to person. As such, its administration should be overseen by a qualified healthcare practitioner.

How long can you stay on gabapentin?

Three to six months is the maximum time healthcare providers prescribe gabapentin for any medical condition to have its maximum effects condition safe and effective usage.

Staying on gabapentin or any medication that affects our central nervous system should only be decided by healthcare professionals, and it’s only beneficial to stick to the prescribed duration. Taking it less than it’s prescribed might cause withdrawal effects, and taking it for more extended periods of time might come with a set of discomforting symptoms like abrupt neuronal activity and physical coordination.

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Consult a Doctor

The decision to continue gabapentin or any central nervous system-affecting medication should be consumed solely with the healthcare provider’s prescription. It is vital to show compliance with the prescribed duration for optimal outcomes. Deviating from the prescribed regimen could potentially lead to withdrawal symptoms if taken less frequently, and prolonged usage may give rise to conditions such as sudden neuronal hyperactivity and impaired physical coordination.

FAQs About Gabapentin for Nerve Pain

What is the best painkiller to take with gabapentin?

Over-the-counter medications like Tylenol (Paracetamol), Advil (Ibuprofen), and Aspirin are the best painkillers to be taken with gabapentin for better and faster results for nerve pain relief.

What is the over-the-counter alternative to gabapentin?

Over-the-counter pain relief medications like ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) as alternative to gabapentin. These could relieve mild to moderate nerve pain by diminishing inflammation and intercepting pain signals. The only difference is gabapentin will take some more time to affect than all other over-the-counter medications.

Which is better for pain tylenol or gabapentin?

Gabapentin demonstrates a superior capacity to offer pain relief, both general and postoperative, with reduced and delayed necessity for supplementary pain relievers. However, it does lead to more instances of nausea and vomiting, as well as heightened levels of sedation compared to Tylenol.
Tylenol can be taken for instant relief in less than an hour while taking gabapentin Instant Release IR will take two to three hours to relieve pain.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • Wiffen PJ, Derry S, Bell RF, Rice AS, Tölle TR, Phillips T, Moore RA. Gabapentin for chronic neuropathic pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Jun 9;6(6):CD007938. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007938.pub4. PMID: 28597471; PMCID: PMC6452908.
  • Markley, Herbert G. MD*; Dunteman, Edwin D. MD†; Kareht, Stephanie PhD‡; Sweeney, Michael MD‡. Real-world Experience With Once-daily Gabapentin for the Treatment of Postherpetic Neuralgia (PHN). The Clinical Journal of Pain 31(1):p 58-65, January 2015. | DOI: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000082
  • Bockbrader, H.N., Wesche, D., Miller, R. et al. A Comparison of the Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of Pregabalin and Gabapentin. Clin Pharmacokinet 49, 661–669 (2010).
  • Cooper TE, Derry S, Wiffen PJ, Moore RA. Gabapentin for fibromyalgia pain in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD012188. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012188.pub2. Accessed 22 August 2023.
  • American Academy of Family Physicians. Gabapentinoids for Pain: Potential Unintended Consequences

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