obese woman, overweight

Pregabalin (Lyrica) has become a go-to drug for nerve pain (neuropathy). There aren’t many medications in the doctor’s tool kit for this kind of problem. A similar drug, gabapentin, has been approved for treating epilepsy and postherpetic neuralgia. This can be excruciating nerve pain that continues after a shingles attack. These “gabapentinoids” can cause a large number of side effects. Weight gain is surprisingly common among people taking Lyrica. Other common Lyrica side effects include fatigue, vertigo, brain fog, fluid retention, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, gas, depression, tremor and skin rash. One reader wants to know what to do about Lyrica and weight gain.

Lyrica and Weight Gain:

Q. I developed peripheral neuropathy two years ago. I suffered until a neurologist prescribed Lyrica twice a day. Although it has helped my symptoms, I have gained 25 pounds in the last six months. The increase in appetite is very difficult to control. I even wake up at night with hunger pains.

Is there anything to counteract this so I can lose the excess weight? Previously, I was in good health and walked briskly two miles daily. The neuropathy prevents that now.

Why Do People Gain Weight on Lyrica?

A. Increased appetite is a recognized adverse reaction to your medication. This may explain why there is a clear connection between Lyrica and weight gain for many people.

Other Factors Connecting Lyrica and Weight Gain:

Metabolism:

There may also be a metabolic component that is not well understood. In other words, the drug may affect hormones like leptin and ghrelin, which impact weight.

Somnolence:

Sleepiness and dizziness are common side effects of Lyrica. Some studies put the incidence of dizziness around 20 to 30 percent. Somnolence clocks in around 13 to 25 percent. When you feel tired and dizzy all the time, it is hard to move around let alone exercise. Lack of energy is another component to this triad.

Confusion:

There is also a brain fog component to the side effect profile of pregabalin. The official prescribing information describes this as confusion or abnormal thinking. This effect could lead to less motivation to exercise.

How Common is Weight Gain?

Some researchers have pointed out that weight gain is one of the most common side effects of Lyrica (Electrolyte & Blood Pressure, Dec. 2016).

The authors write that:

“It is thought that unexplained weight gain may be a sign of fluid retention, which may exacerbate congestive heart failure.”

It is hard to estimate with precision how many people are susceptible to Lyrica and weight gain. A small Japanese study offered the following adverse reactions (Pain Research & Management, Nov-Dec, 2014):

  • Sleepiness 29.8%
  • Unsteadiness 23.6%
  • Weight Gain 5.3%
  • Edema 4.3%
  • Dizziness 3%

The official prescribing information presents data from a number of clinical trials. Lyrica and weight gain range from 4% to 16% depending upon the study.

Reports from Readers Re: Lyrica and Weight Gain:

Steph in Florida reports:

“I’ve been on Lyrica for six years now for my fibromyalgia. I’ve been taking 600 mg a day for the last two years. I have gained so much weight just in my stomach only. I’m always bloated on top of that. As the day goes on my stomach gets worse and more bloated. I hate to leave my house because people are always coming up to me asking me how far along I am. That is just what any girl wants to hear, right?

“At first, I didn’t think that it was the Lyrica. I thought that I was just 36 and my body was changing. I’ve had four kids. I’m no longer that skinny girl I’ve always been my whole life. I started working out and making sure I eat healthy food. I wouldn’t lose a pound. I’ve worked out so hard and so much that I literally have hurt the inside of my ankle bone”

Inci in Australia adds:

“Four years ago my GP put me on Lyrica because the nerve pain in my feet was keeping me awake at night. For a few months it seemed to be working. However, the nerve pain came back and the GP increased the dose.

“This should have been a red flag. I was never told about the side effects of the drug. I was experiencing weight gain for no reason, dizziness and loss of balance, itches all over my body and incontinence day or night.”

What To Do About Lyrica and Weight Gain?

As far as we know there are no antidotes to the weight problem. Some experts recommend a healthy diet and exercise. That’s always good advice, but it may not help many people if they have a voracious appetite from the drug and are dizzy and exhausted most of the day.

No one should ever stop Lyrica suddenly! The withdrawal symptoms can be daunting. Here is a link that describes this problem:

Stopping Lyrica Suddenly Can Trigger Withdrawal Symptoms

People who gain weight on Lyrica should discuss the problem with the prescriber. Always ask your doctor if there are other options for your nerve pain. Benfotiamine (a B vitamin derivative) might offer a different approach to treating neuropathy (PLOS One, Feb. 19, 2015).

We also heard from Susan in Fort Mill, SC:

“I read the letter from the person with peripheral neuropathy and wanted to let you know what works for me. About six years ago the peripheral neuropathy in my left heel was not allowing me to sleep. I checked for a natural remedy. I found a recommendation for a daily dose of a combination of 600 mg of Alpha Lipoic Acid and 100 mg of B-1. Within a few weeks the symptoms were gone. Occasionally I have a very mild reoccurrence, but thankfully I have no need for ‘real’ medicine.”

Before embarking on a dietary supplement regimen, however, please discuss such options with a physician.

Share your own experience with Lyrica and weight gain in the comment section below. If you have found a successful strategy for treating neuropathy, please share that too.

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  1. Laurie
    Lubbock, TX
    Reply

    I’m fairly new to Lyrica, maybe 3 month for fibromyalgia. I have numerous health issues, one of them going from slight tremors in my hands to now full jerks in hands, arms, hips, even legs. My GP increased dose to 150mg twice a day, but in a matter of 2-3 months I’ve gained 30 pounds. I have very limited exercise I can do unless it’s in a pool, I have extreme anxiety to the point I can barely leave my house, even for doctor appointments I have to be pushed. The only thing that change is adding Lyrica.

    I have gastric bypass 4 years and am happy to see that I’m in a size my husband has never seen, I’m back at my high school weight which wasn’t great at 190 size 16; which is where I’m at. I’ve made no sudden changes in my diet, I’ve been very strict about that in fear of gaining weight. However, the weight gain isn’t all that’s happened. I now have the fog, want to sleep all the time, most certainly don’t feel good about my lack of energy since that puts a larger load on my husband and 16 year old son.

  2. Paige
    Columbus, OH
    Reply

    I have diabetic neuropathy and have been on Neurontin (gabapentin) for at least 10-11 years, and Lyrica and Cymbalta have been added to my regimen because of how bad my neuropathy is. For the last couple of years, I have been exercising regularly and eating so much better than I ever have. I cannot lose weight to save my life. It’s very frustrating. I drink 3-4 bottles (16 oz) of water a day. I’m taking 1800 mg of Gabapentin a day, 300 mg of Lyrica, and 90 mg of Cymbalta. Almost the full doses of all 3. I can’t make my diabetes better unless I lose weight. If the diabetes is better, then my nerves are better. It’s just a vicious cycle. Not sure what to do.

  3. Lynn
    Midland
    Reply

    I would appreciate an answer to my question: can weight gain from lyrica be reversed if you get off the meds? I have gained 30 lbs plus most all the other side effects.

  4. Mary
    Wisconsin
    Reply

    You did not have weight gain with Gabapentin?

    • Melly
      Sydney
      Reply

      Lynn, I was on 6-8 150mg Lyrica tablets per day from a bulging disc in my lower back that hit my sciatica nerve roots badly. After 2.5 years of feeling bloody awful and a 17kg (roughly 38 pounds) weight gain in the first 4 months of taking it, I eventually checked into a mental health hospital to get off the stuff. I have managed to lose 9kgs through diet (cutting way back on soft drink and sugar, eating healthier etc) and am now seeing an exercise physiologist to figure out what exercise I can do (but I can’t jump, run or lift my own body weight off the ground in order to get the required sweat level to shed the weight). I walk and do strength training exercises 5 days per week. But for the past 2 months I have plateaued, and can’t lose any more even though I only drink water now and avoid all junk food. I really want to lose the rest so that I can fit back into my old clothes because I hate having to wear baggy clothes all the time. And since ceasing Lyrica over 6 months ago I have sleep maintenance insomnia. I can fall asleep fine, but I wake at 2 or 3am every single morning and I don’t sleep during the day. My doctor is really trying to help with my lack of sleep as it is debilitating and body and mind are so bloody over tired and exhausted, but we’re not having much luck. In short, in my experience, there can be weight loss, but I have had to earn every last kilo/gram lost. Just stopping Lyrica in and of itself, will not result in weight loss.

  5. Geri
    Texas
    Reply

    I’ve been on Lyrica for about 2 months for Restless Leg Syndrome. My RLS is very painful. The Lyrica worked like magic the first week, which I have prayed for. Then slowly it started coming back, the spasms, constant need to move my legs at night and the weird feelings in my legs. I’ve also gained 5 pounds, which I have been struggling not to do. I read that Lyrica could cause weight gain, but I have had incredible appetite that has been hard to control. I’m also very tired now during the day, which I believe is due to the Lyrica. I’ve started feeling like I’m retaining a lot of fluid, so I have decided to stop taking the Lyrica.

  6. Marie W
    PENNSYLVANIA
    Reply

    After reading the comments, I don’t think that I will take the Lyrica my doctor prescribed. I already take gabapentin and will continue even though my insurance just approved the Lyrica. Thanks for the advice.

    • Pat T
      Tiffin ohio
      Reply

      If you have found an answer PLEASE let me know. I have tried everything to lose weight

  7. meli
    Reply

    So, I am a world champion powerlifter from 2001. Never had a problem with weight being I was working out everyday. Started Lyrica due to some injuries and steadily gained weight over 10 years 80 lb. So 10 years ago why was I not told about this side effect. I now I am 53 and so miserable because I’ve tried
    going all of this medication before end have experienced melancholy thoughts of how crappy this world really is.

    My recommendation to you is don’t even do it if you can help not. This is not a innocent drug as if there are any. Our ancestors live with no modern medication and seemed to be able to take care of themselves. My advice is to try any and everything you can homeopathic so you don’t get caught in the pharmaceutical cycle. It is very hard to break away from. Best of luck to all that have such problems. It’s very difficult.

  8. Theresa
    Maryland
    Reply

    I have been taking Lyrica for approximately one year – 100mg at bedtime. Recently, this has increased to 2X daily – morning & night- at 100mg each. Once the daytime dosage was added, I noticed an incredible surge in the weight gain in my stomach-I look pregnant! I have also gained 7 pounds – I was 112 pounds (5 ft tall). The sad thing about all of this is that I’ve been put on Lyrica for atypcial facial pain. I have been dealing with left-side constant, excruciating facial pain that no one seems to be able to find relief. I’ve been on 37 different meds over the four years I’ve been suffering with facial pain. I do not have any neuropathy. I have had rhizotomy surgery at Johns Hopkins hospital last year, which made the pain worse. I have tried reducing my nightime dosage of Lyrica and remove the daytime dosage. This was horrible-I felt awful! I stayed in bed, nauseous, lightheaded, anxious – horrible. I believe Lyrica is responsible for the widespread muscle/joint pain I’m experiencing. The rheumatologist is calling it fibromyalgia and I call it Lyrica-algia! This drug should not be on the market. I’m determined to get off of it..Any suggestions to help me with this atypical facial pain would be welcomed. thank you very much

  9. rose
    wichita ks.
    Reply

    I take Lyrica and have trouble going to sleep. I only sleep 5 or 6 hours at most. Am always tired. Why?

    • Amy
      WI
      Reply

      You never mention Trigeminal Neuralgia by name, but your face pain description sounds like it. I started with fibro and it then moved into my face, first the right, then the left. It is agonizing. The only thing that brought me from non-functioning survival, to a much closer version of the old me, was lyrica. I had lost 140lbs years before, after the birth of my 5th child, after being on solid bed rest for 6 months. The lyrica brought back 60 of it right off the bat. The “fibro fog” is a real struggle, but the issues with thinking on lyrica are truly scary. I wish I was dependent on it to live my life, but I have scraped and clawed my way back from the worst period in my life in 2012. I pray constantly that they find a cure or for chronic pain sufferers. I wish all of you well.

    • Linda c
      FL
      Reply

      There are anti convulsion meds that may help. Tegretal has helped. Dilantin is the second preferred as far as i know. Instead of heat, i use ice packs and eat more ice cream than i should. I can’t bite into anything much. So i mince my food into small bites that i gingerly put in with a coaktail fork. Most foods are still a big NO. Another thing that helps is extra strengh Tyelenol taken 3 times a day. I sometimes have to wait until it helps before even trying to eat. Good luck. Hope this will help you.

  10. Cam
    Raleigh
    Reply

    I took Lyrica for less than 2 months ( replacing gabapentin) for numbness in my feet. After experiencing loss of strength/flexibility in my left arm/hand – I stopped taking Lyrica and began taking Gabapentin again. I’m a very active 74 year old and love golf. I now have experienced a tibialis tendon rupture on my left side – I think Lyrica caused this event. Have you ever heard of this connection?

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