Anticonvulsants for chronic low back pain
How It Works
Anticonvulsants are used to help control
or prevent abnormal increases in brain electrical activity.
Why It Is Used
Anticonvulsants can reduce some
low back pain.1
How Well It Works
Anticonvulsant medicine may relieve chronic pain for some people but not others.1 One type of anticonvulsant
may work better for you than another. This type of medicine is not well studied
as a chronic pain treatment but is considered a reasonable treatment
When prescribed for chronic pain control,
anticonvulsants are used at doses low enough to avoid side effects, and the
dosage is usually increased very gradually, if needed. Tell your doctor if you
experience any of the following side effects:
- Restlessness and
- Confusion and dizziness
- Nausea, vomiting,
loss of appetite, and belly pain
- Uncontrollable eye movements
- Gum disease
Itching, fever, and a rash that looks like measles
Pregabalin can cause swelling in some people, including
swelling of the face or lips. If swelling is bothering you, call your doctor.
There may be another medicine you can try.
Topiramate can cause
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
issued a warning on anticonvulsants and the risk of suicide and suicidal
thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines.
Instead, people who take anticonvulsant medicine should be watched closely for
warning signs of suicide. People who take
anticonvulsant medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk
to a doctor.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects.
(Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Anticonvulsants are not safe for
everyone. To avoid side effects, be sure to tell your doctor about any medical
conditions you have and any other medicines you are taking. You may
already be taking one or more drugs to treat other problems, such as diabetes,
arthritis, high cholesterol, heart disease, or high blood pressure. Be sure
your doctor knows all the drugs you are taking.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Chou R, Huffman LH (2007). Medications for acute and
chronic low back pain: A review of the evidence for an American Pain
Society/American College of Physicians clinical practice guideline.
Annals of Internal Medicine, 147(7):