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. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.


  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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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