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When my patient stop taking Gabapentin

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

If you have neuropathy and have been to your doctor, you are probably on gabapentin. It is a widely used medication for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy. I had a patient in last week that came in for a consult. He is 72 years old. He is retired and has had neuropathy for the past 5 years. His causes was unknown. His biggest complaint was muscle weakness and balance issues. Over the past 2 years he has seen a dramatic decline to the point where he has to use a cane for support. He cannot close his eyes in the shower. He can only take small steps like he is shuffling his feet. He was very concerned that his neuropathy would get worse and he would have to be in a wheel chair.

During our office consult I took a deep dive into his issue. He said a few years ago he was prescribed gabapentin by his doctor. Over the years as his neuropathy progressed his dosage went up exponentially as well. After doing my exam and history I determined that it was very difficult to determine how bad his neuropathy was because he was on such a high dose of gabapentin. Here is brief description of how it works.

Gabapentin, is an anticonvulsant medication commonly used to treat partial seizuresneuropathic painhot flashes, and restless legs syndrome.  It is recommended as one of a number of first-line medications for the treatment of neuropathic pain caused by diabetic neuropathypostherpetic neuralgia, and central neuropathic pain. Only about 15% of those given gabapentin for diabetic neuropathy or postherpetic neuralgia have a measurable sign of “temporary” relief.

Common side effects for Gabapentin include sleepiness, fatigue, drowsiness, ataxia (lack of coordination of voluntary muscle movement), tremors, peripheral edema (swelling of the extremities), nystagmus (involuntary eye movement), and dizzinessGabapentin may also produce sexual dysfunction in some patients, symptoms of which may include loss of libido, inability to reach orgasm, and erectile dysfunctionSerious side effects include an increased risk of suicideaggressive behavior, and drug reactions. It is unclear if it is safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Lower doses are recommended in those with kidney disease associated with a low kidney function. Extended use can cause kidney problems due to possible accumulation and toxicity.

Most people do not take the time to learn about their health issue nor what they are taking. Is that a good recipe for success?

Take your life in your own hands. Don't lose your faith and hope. There is always time for change. You just have to work at it. God created a beautiful body. It is your choice in how do you want your body to work. Do the things it wants and you will see the results. That is the foundation of my Neuropathy treatment process.

God Bless

Dr. Thai

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