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.

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Your cart

Total
USD
Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.