a foot above several upright thumb tacks

Have you seen the ad blitz for Lyrica (pregabalin)? A LOT of money is being spent trying to convince the American public that Lyrica is the answer to diabetic nerve pain. One of the most compelling commercials stars a retired policeman:

“Hi, I’m Terry and I have diabetic nerve pain. I worked a patrol unit for 17 years in the city of Baltimore. When I first started experiencing the pain it’s hard to describe because you have a numbness but yet you have the pain like thousands of needles sticking in your foot.”

This sounds awful, and indeed people with diabetic neuropathy suffer terribly. Symptoms can include:

Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy

  • Burning, tingling or a feeling of needles sticking into your skin
  • Numbness in toes and feet; an inability to sense a needle prick; reduced sensitivity to temperature change
  • Difficulty walking because of numbness, pain or weakness
  • Intense stabbing jolts of pain, especially in the evening
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Poor stomach emptying, leading to feelings of fullness and bloating
  • Bladder problems
  • Dizziness on standing

It’s hardly any wonder that patients with neuropathy and nerve pain would be looking for help. A commercial like the one with Terry, the retired Baltimore police officer, is very appealing. When Terry says the “pain started subsiding” after taking Lyrica, we imagine that lots of viewers might think that they too might benefit from this drug. Are they paying attention, though, when the voice-over announcer says:

“Lyrica is not for everyone. It may cause serious allergic reactions or suicidal thoughts or actions. Tell your doctor right away if you have these: new or worsening depression or unusual changes in mood or behavior, or swelling, trouble breathing, rash, hives, blisters, changes in eye sight including blurry vision, muscle pain with fever, tired feeling or skin sores from diabetes. Common side effects are dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain, and swelling of hands, legs and feet. Don’t drink alcohol while taking Lyrica. Don’t drive or use machinery until you know how Lyrica affects you.”

While you listen to the on-air announcer speed through this long list of complications you see Terry working in his backyard planting and watering pretty flowers. Somehow, the scary side effects seem less worrisome in such a bucolic setting.

Here are some real stories from our website to bring the side effects into focus:

This comes from LCB:

“I started taking Lyrica 10 days ago for RLS [restless leg syndrome] and fibromyalgia. I was taking gabapentin but it had stopped working. I gained 14 pounds on the gabapentin, and now I’ve gained 5 pounds more on the Lyrica. I have edema [fluid retention] as well. I’m sleepy for most of the day and I feel like I’m dragging my body around. I have no energy. My husband tells me I’m irritable with the kids, and that I can’t seem to remember things anymore.

“All of this is quite a drastic change from my usual energetic, tireless self. I don’t like how I feel, and to make the most important point: Lyrica doesn’t seem to help much. I still have tons of pain, and RLS at night. So, I have an appointment with my doctor to ask for a change. I believe that these medicines work very well on some people, but we are all so different. It doesn’t work for me.”

T.  had a very scary story to share:

“After almost eight years on Cymbalta, it had lost the effectiveness. My doctor added Lyrica to help with fibro. Soon after, I started to have a deep depression and wanted to end the pain that I have lived with for so long. The stress of life was so great, that I attempted suicide. I was put in the hospital for four days.

“At that point, no more meds! The symptoms are what everyone has described. I feel alone and lost in my own brain fog hell. Not one of my family has a clue what a nightmare this is.”

Kathy listed these complicatons:

“I was on the drug eight months for fibromyalgia prescribed by a rheumatologist. I, too, started having problems with eyesight (my eye doctor could NOT update my lenses due to Lyrica causing severe blurriness). I also had memory loss, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. I suffer from chronic constipation due to diverticulitis, and the Lyrica was making this worse. I weaned off over a three-week period. OMG! The withdrawal was/is terrible.

“I am 9 weeks into it, and still have terrible throbbing ongoing headaches, difficulty swallowing, and went from 134 lbs to 118! I feel like I’m dying most of the time. I went to my current neurologist today and was told there were no such symptoms from Lyrica withdrawal!

“Google it, doctor! Please, if anyone reading this is considering taking Lyrica, reconsider! If you have side effects like I did, then decide to go off; you may be looking at a long recovery and NO help from a doctor. They are all denying any problems with this medication. Please read the “Lyrica Withdrawal” posts first!”

Getting off drugs that affect the central nervous system can sometimes be challenging. As we mentioned recently with our post on Abilify, the track record of psychiatry and neurology has been abysmal when it comes to studying sudden withdrawal from commonly prescribed medications. It took years for researchers to discover that when patients suddenly stopped benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium) or lorazepam (Ativan) they often experienced very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ditto for antidepressants like citalopram (Celexa), duloxetine (Cymbalta), escitalopram (Lexapro), sertraline (Zoloft) and venlafaxine (Effexor).

The story of Lyrica (pregabalin) withdrawal is also murky. There is very little in the medical literature on this topic. The prescribing information does mention, though, that some patients report symptoms such as insomnia, nausea, headache, anxiety, sweating or diarrhea if they stop suddenly. The advice: taper the dose over at least a week rather that stopping suddenly. We fear that such information is not always that helpful, especially since there is not much practical information about actual dosage reduction.

Lyrica Side Effects

  • Vertigo, dizziness, unsteadiness, coordination problems, abnormal gait
  • Sleepiness, fatigue
  • Confusion, abnormal thinking, difficulty with attention and concentration, accidental injury
  • Dry mouth
  • Fluid retention in hands or feet, edema
  • Blurred vision, difficulty with eyesight
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation, gas
  • Pain
  • Skin reaction, rash, dermatitis (requires immediate medical attention!)
  • Depression, suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis), tremor
  • Blood disorders
  • Withdrawal symptoms, discontinuation syndrome, seizures

We recognize that some people with hard-to-treat neuropathy or fibromyalgia may do quite well on Lyrica and not suffer side effects. That’s great. But some patients don’t get much benefit and do suffer complications. For them, Lyrica is not a blessing.

To learn about some other approaches to neuropathy, you may want to check these links about benfotiamine (link 1 and link 2) and alpha lipoic acid.

Please share your own story about Lyrica or your experience with neuropathy and what has worked for you below so others can benefit from your experience.


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  1. mavis
    durham uk

    i have been on 300mg twice a day for 3 years and put on over 2stone but the last few ,onth i felt they were nothing for me and asked the doc to take me off them, i have been cutting down over the last 3 weeks and except for sweats and then feeling cold i have been ok but my doc did put me neafopam or acupam its other name , the pain as nearly disappeared and it is nice to be able to walk about without pain, although i cannot still stand and do anything,but after 5 years of agony i am really please with these tablets

  2. alex

    I have been on Lyrica for four almost five years. With a weight gain of 100lbs. I finally just told the pain management doc I wanted off. We did a 3 week taper. I have lost 15lbs without trying. I use Nucynya for the fibromyalgia and arthritis. My pain is somewhat improved and my attitude is becoming normal again. All I can say is to find the recipe of medications and alternative care that works for you. And, never be afraid to throw in the towel and start the treatment process over. I am so glad I did!

    • alex

      Correct spelling Nucynta.

  3. Sharron

    I have been on Lyrica for over 5 years now. I build up to 900mg per day, taking 300 3X per day. I did not function well taking Lyrica during the day (the brain fog everyone talks about.) I cut out the 300mg taken during the day and only took it in the morning and evening (600mg) but even that was too much and I cut down to 300mg at night only.

    I have been taking it this way for maybe the last year and a half. I have gained over 100 lbs in weight and now I want to get off of Lyrica entirely. I called my doctor first who said go ahead and drop down to one 150mg pill a night for a whole week and then let’s see how you are. I seemed to have tolerated reducing the amount well enough and after a week the doctor said go ahead and cut the other pill out. The last pill I took was on a Tuesday evening. By Friday morning I was starting to go through some pretty tough withdrawal symptoms and it was getting worse as the day went on.

    By Saturday, I had not slept for two whole days and I was anxious, near panic states, angry, a complete cotton dry mouth, having hot flashes, chills, extreme headache, sleeplessness and severe depression. I knew I was dying, no doubt about it and I started saying good by to my family members one by one, not suicidal which means taking your own life, but simply feeling life was over. By Sunday as symptoms continued to get even worse as I became touch sensitive, hearing sensitive and strange smells coming to my nose, my husband and I tried to reach the trauma nurse on duty who tried to reach the doctor. I went back on 150 mg capsule Sunday evening and slept well. Monday I reached the doctor who agreed to call in a prescription for 75mg capsules which I expect will be an easier cut down. The doctor said I may need to stay at that dosage and not try to quit completely, my body being in too much of a need of it. That said, no prescription has come through yet and I remain on the 150 mg capsule at night only. Most of the withdrawal symptoms have disappeared with the exception of the depression. I still plan to get off of it completely but will need to find a better way to do it.

  4. Christina
    Austin, TX

    I just started Lyrica for Fibromyalgia about 2 months ago. I was on 75mgs a day and because I was still in so much pain doctor increased it to 150mgs 2x day.

    I have noticed a pretty severe increase in brain fog but it can fluctuate dramatically from day to day. I have much much less overall pain, which is fabulous, but I am far from 100% pain free.

    I am willing to continue to give this Lyrica a go for another month or two and see if I adjust or if the cognitive blur side effects decrease enough to make the payoff greater than the cost. In the meantime I will continue to look for alternatives.

    I have a very complex system in addition to Fibromyalgia and I have never responded to alternative meds for my various conditions which include ADHD/Bi-Polar I, Anxiety, PMDD, and D.I.D.

    I was med free for six years as my other symptoms pretty much went into remission or I was able to deal with the issues through a strong meditative, spiritual, and general lifestyle that afforded me the ability to be med free. (I still live this lifestyle today).

    However, about a year and a half ago I ran into a series of sudden and abrupt major losses and life changes that sent me back to pharmaceuticals. I have not responded well to most of them. Meaning I have had edema responses to most of the meds and/or developed an allergic reaction.

    The only meds that I have not had this reaction to are Aderall and Ativan. I am also currently taking Seroquil again but am having severe lethargy as well as increased edema to it.

    I realize this post is beyond the scope of the Lyrica discussion but I can’t very well leave the additional information out either as one of the issues with the Lyrica is the increased brain fog, which is making the Aderall way less effective, and the possibility that there is a reaction between the Seroquil and the Lyrica that is further contributing to brain fog and lethargy.

    I am advocate for people finding the right treatment approach for the individual. I just really wish that one day the pharmaceutical industry would work cooperatively and hand in hand with the alternative approaches to give people their best possible chance. Thank you.

  5. Dustin
    Los Angeles

    I took one lyrica 2 years ago for anxiety. About 30 mins after taking it I felt horrible and drunk/dizzy, I had to leave work, I could barely get home because everything looked and felt so weird. I finally got home and went to sleep. Then woke up to treacherous pain in my hands and back, I was 23 and never dealt with joint pains, I never took it again, now 25 and still deal with crippling pains including in my back. It’s sad how this med has disabled me, I can no longer even excersize, sometimes can’t even open a jar all of this after trying one high dose of lyrica. Beware! I wished I could say the effects left me alone. 2 Years and no relief

    • Linda

      Dustin I also took just one Lyrica (first and only) at 11pm and had very similar reactions to you that began in a very short time of taking the pill. I went to bed and at 4am awoke suffering stroke like symptoms, vomiting and totally deaf in my left ear. Long story short ambulance called, hospitalization, violently ill and now 18 months later still minus 100% hearing in my left ear. Specialists have told me that it is permanent. One pill, one night and irreparable damage. Beware indeed!!

  6. Frank

    I was prescribed Lyrica to treat severe neuropathy that developed after a spinal trauma. Pain and ‘sensations’ were keeping me awake at night and I was very uncomfortable to say the least. My neurologist started me on 600mg of Lyrica ( starting with 50 twice a day and over three week working up to 300 twice a day). I’ve been on it for two months now, it’s been the ‘magic’ drug for me that made the nerve pain tolerable.

    The primary side effect for me has been gaining a few pounds. I’ve been taking Vicodin, Flexeril and NSAID long term with breaks since the trauma, and now adding Lyrica as a constant seems to let me feel ‘normal’ again, or as normal as I can be since the trauma. Unfortunately physical therapy, and chiropractic haven’t provided significant relief, not that I’m giving up, trust me I’d rather be drug free as I hate taking Rx’s.

    Sometime life life hands us a bum deal, but just wanted to let people know Lyrica seems to be working for some us. I’ve been told not to quit cold, when the time comes to stop taking Lyrica to slowly reduce dose over 3 weeks to wean off, sounds like from other post I can count on some withdraw issues at that time.

    • Dimuth
      Canberra, Australia

      Yes, it seems to be working a miracle for me too. I had a back injury and after many months I seem to be with tolerable pain. I have the ‘fog like’ feeling that everyone is talking about, find concentration difficult, fine myself making mistakes more often. Still, I want to give it more time and see if the side effects will go away as I feel so good after started taking Lyrica.

  7. Kelly
    Wilkes Barre, PA

    I am weaning off the last 50mg dose (I was on 3x day). This has been a painful process. My biggest complaint is at night: I do not stay asleep (toss and turn all night), and my shirt is soaking in sweat, sometimes 3 times a night. I am about a week into this final drop, and am a zombie.

    I wanted to share one thing that seems to help — a pinch of salt in my water bottle. I don’t know how or why, but during the day it is my survival. It makes me feel at least alive and seems to cut the chills down too.

    Good luck all. This is horrible!

  8. Denyce

    I was taking to start 300 mg up to 300×3 GABA . This first thing I had was acid trips, I was trying to sleep and reaching out to nothing ? I took at night with Zanaflex, for 3 months. I finally stopped cold turkey, going back to the gym and getting healthy. BUT, I woke up all the time in the night with my mouth so dry and tounge glued to my mouth that u had teeth marks in my tounge?? Why did the Doc not tell me if this horrible drug?? They dnt want you to take pain meds (opides) but they will give you this drug??

    And I had HORRIBLE withdrawals from GABA !! I thought I was going to jump out of my skin!! Went to the doc., Sunday, they ran blood, ekg and X-rays. They knew I was NOT feeling good! Have not slept in over a week!! Finally started to feel better and then go to the pain Managment Doctor and they give me Lyrica?? I am scared to death to take this drug! I can not and will not go through that again. Why are the pushing us to take medicine like this GABA?? No marijuana or pain pills?? Take somthing that really will mess with you??? Come on!!

    I will stick with my plan and go back to the gym and take vitamins. And only take pain medication when I need it….

    I made the mistake and took my first 25mg and last 25mg Lyrica…. I can not go through more of that horrible feeling. I wish I would have read this first….. Thanks

  9. Catherine
    Freemansburg, Pa

    I was put on Lyrica 50 mg for nerve pain due to Spinal Stenosis. First week was fine. Second week I was using my inhaler for my asthma more often. By day 14 I had breathing difficulty and it felt like my heart was being squeased. My chest was hurting. It was a Saturday and couldn’t get my doctor. I stopped Lyrica on my own and my side effects went away.

  10. Audrey
    New York

    Who takes 600 – 900 mg a day and what for? You have to have your own grasp on things regarding medications.

    I am an LPN who works in New York. 15 years ago I started having nonspecific nerve pain along the entire right side of my body. I was put on 150mg of Lyrica, but eventually went down to 75mg with the help of physical therapy and Vicodin for acute flare-ups.

    I normally do not have any pain except when under undue stress. My pain flared up recently and just got worse. Here, the doctors do not want to prescribe painkillers. So this jerk of a doctor gave me 5mg of Vicodin for 15 days. Well I spent a week in horrible leg, arm, and facial pain.

    Finally I went to a well-known chiropractor who did more stretching me out and then adjusting things, and the next day all the pain was gone. Try anything: chiro, physical therapy, acupuncture, herbs, meditation, faith healers, other medications, use heat, use muscle soaks. My best to all of you.

  11. Lola

    I was prescribed Lyrica due to Multiple Sclerosis. I feel more depressed with even less energy than the little that I had before taking this drug. I don’t feel like doing anything except stay in bed. I’ve had weight gain and eating a lot more than before. My hands and feet are swollen, can’t get my wedding ring on/off due to swelling. Don’t want to talk with anyone or socialize. Feel lethargic, just don’t care about anything. Can’t think straight and my speech has been affected.

    Basically, this drug has compounded my existent MS symptoms and made them worse. I still have pain, such as numbness with pins/needles but also now seem to have more joint pain. I already had muscle spasticity, tightness but it is much worse since taking Lyrica. I am in more pain now than before with additional negative effects. Thankful to have read about the withdrawal because I had decided to quit cold turkey but will taper.

  12. Diane

    I have similar experiences to those mentions above: dry mouth, no appetite, blurry vision. I had been given Lyrica because of the side effects of gabapentin caused me to be so tired I could barely function and caused me to have hot flashes like I was in menopause again. Both drugs were to help nerve pain from a pinched nerve in my back. I could see no improvement in my pain level. The doctor started me on 25 mg increasing to 75 mg a day. Wanted me to go up to 150 mg a day in two doses. The cost was prohibitive. Have been trying to wean myself off the Lyrica and am down to 25 mg a day. But after discontinuing the drug for four days started to have really bad withdrawal symptoms had to take 25 mg again. Guess I’ll try 25 mg every other day for a week or so and see how that works. I concur this drug is dangerous.

  13. bev
    co durham

    My sister was put on this drug she has ms she suffered a mental break down 4 yrs ago was prescribed this drug she decided because of bladder problem just to stop taking it she has now had a seizure and in hospital can anybody help shes very confused sweating bladder problem still there shakey very anxious this is heartbreaking shes only 47

  14. Ted

    I have been taking Lyrica for a little over a month for chronic osteoarthritis pain. I have none-so far-of the other side effects ppl talk of


    I know this sounds crazy (even crazier then lyrica?) but in the last week or so, I have been ‘processing’ what I see in common everyday items, like always. But here is the issue-when I see these things, my brain is processing their names in Spanish (I do not speak Spanish fluently but have had a lot of exposure to the lang over about a 20 yr period). I cannot carry on a conversation in the language but I do find myself thinking to say the item names out loud in spanish to my children or wife-it takes a bit of ‘over-ride’ to say it in english.

    Nutty right? IS there anyone else here that has had anything similar to this? If so, have you had the courage to tell your Dr-that is courage that if you says this, he/she will automatically assume some type of psych issue instead of a side effect issue?

    Pls comment back.


  15. Mo

    This is the second time I’ve been on Lyrica, Pregablin. I was able to get off it before and intend to this time also God willing. I take 300mg daily which I have reduced to 150mg daily. I was given it for anxiety but I don’t believe it was anxiety I had. The weight gain is awful hence the reason I want off it.

    • Rebecca

      I don’t think of things in another language or anything, but have found since I started taking Lyrica a month ago that I have started to analyze all things. This is not normal for me and makes it hard to concentrate on the tasks at hand. I have fibromyalgia so the brain fog is normal, but this kind of kicks my brain into overdrive and instead of thinking slowly or foggily now it is constant, continuous flow of random thoughts that I cannot control. I have not brought this to my physicians attention as of yet, but I to have been called “crazy” or that all of the pain, brain fog, and anxiety is “in my head.” So I do understand your fear.

  16. k

    I just weaned myself off of Lyrica, I recognized the depression that I have been experiencing and am all to familiar with. I have been dealing with fibromyalgia since 1990 I eventually want to be off all meds. I am now looking into the oils from marijuana to see if that gives me relief. Has anyone out there tried this yet? If so I would like the input. And yes this depression is like no other!

    • Goober

      Hi, how did you wean off of lyrica? I must get off this drug. Did you have any success w using oil therapy? Please reply?

    • jerry

      Brief history… Iam 45 years old and have had 20+ orthopedic and reconstructive surgeries. I have had some very intensive surgeries that dealt with cutting out bone in my leg and back and placing a rod down my tibia and a cage in my lower back. Doctors have put me on many meds for pain,depression and sleep issue’s. I would like to get off all my meds but know that’s not going to happen so the best thing I have found to work is the marijuana oils. With permission from my pain management doctor I went to Colorado and bought as much oil as I could. While using the oil I was able to use less prescription drugs the only problem is my state is not a state that has passed the marijuana laws. These oils are pretty expensive to buy for every day use. I have been using lyrica for over a year with pretty good results it’s just getting to expensive. When the state of gets off its butt and passes the marijuana laws then we who suffer from severe pain all day every day can stop taking some if not all prescription drugs. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who struggle with pain,depression and to many both. Always lean on your family and let them know what you are going through and don’t assume that they know.

  17. Steve

    Lyrica does indeed have serious withdrawls with sudden stoppage. I was told by my gp that there are no withdrawls from this drug but that it affects different people in different ways.

    My personal experience was pretty terrible, dull clouded haze, intense (thankfully short lived) depression, cold and flu like symptoms lasting for 2-3 days. Intense soreness, agitated, anxious, and generally depressed.

    My best advice is taper it down. I was taking 600-900mg a day and stopped cold, had terrible withdrawl. The second time I was taking the same amount but then took 150mg for three to five days and then stopped. It was much more manageable. This drug is not for everyone and I would suggest gabapentin first, it again affects different people in different ways but is much less ‘potent’. My advice for diabetes sufferers is avoid this drug if possible. Try to control your blood sugars and eat more vegetables. Forks over Knives is a great doc to illustrate this point!

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