Department of Neurology

Anticonvulsants and pain

Q: I need any info, i.e. pharmaceutical co.'s, test info, web pages, etc about the drug gabapentin. We have a grandmother with shingles and in some instances they have found the positive effects gabapatin has on epilepsy, can cause relief to sufferers of shingles.

A: Many anticonvulsants have been used for management of pain of nerve origin, including phenytoin (Dilatin), carbamazepine (Tegretol) and gabapentin (Neurontin). There are several studies in animals that suggest that gabapentin is effective for pain. The effect of anticonvulsants to block pain may relate to their ability to prevent nerves from firing rapidly and abnormally. In humans, there are many anecdotal reports about the use of gabapentin for pain caused by nerve injury or inflammation, consisting of case reports and series of patients. However, actual data from scientific clinical trials is not yet available. Thus, technically speaking, gabapentin has not been proven to work for pain. Nonetheless, your doctors may choose to try this medication, since it is generally regarded as being well tolerated and low in side effects.

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