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Lyrica for Migraine Prevention

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on June 23, 2020

If you have migraines regularly for a long time, treatment can help. Sometimes you can use the drug Lyrica to prevent them. Your doctor may suggest this daily drug if you need to treat another medical condition at the same time. That includes partial seizures or fibromyalgia.

Talk to your doctor about preventive treatment for your migraines if:

  • You get 1 or more attacks a week
  • You use rescue medications a lot
  • Your attacks keep you from work or school
  • Other treatments haven’t worked

There are many drug treatments for migraine. It’s normal to have to try several before you find the right fit. Like other preventive drugs, Lyrica may not get rid of all your migraines. But it might lessen your symptoms or make them happen less often. Here’s what you need to know about this drug and migraine.

What Is Lyrica?

Lyrica (pregabalin) is a prescription drug. It’s used to treat certain types of nerve pain, fibromyalgia, and partial seizures. Doctors sometimes use it “off-label” to prevent migraine attacks. Off-label means it isn’t FDA-approved to treat a condition, but your doctor can prescribe it to you if it’s used often in practice and seems to help.

How Does Lyrica Work?

Experts think migraines are at least partly caused by sensitivity to chemical activity in your nervous system. They’re not sure, but they think Lyrica works on migraine by acting on “channels” in your brain to dampen these overactive signals.

Benefits of Lyrica

You could feel less pain and have fewer migraine headaches. When you do get an attack, it may not be as intense or last as long.

Some small studies show it might work as well as some other drugs already approved to treat it. We need more research to know for sure.

How to Take Lyrica

Lyrica comes as a pill or liquid. Your doctor might want to divide up your dose so you take it 1-3 times a day. Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • You can take it with or without food.
  • Take it at the same time every day.
  • If you miss a dose, don’t double up the next day.
  • Take it at night if it makes you sleepy.

Your doctor will decide how much you should take. You’ll probably start out with a low dose -- between 150-300 milligrams a day. But you could go up to 450. It could take a few months for the medicine to work.

Common Side Effects

Lyrica is generally safe. You may not have any problems when you take it. But like all drugs, it can cause some unwanted symptoms. Your side effects may depend on how much you take.

The most common side effects are:

  • Dizziness
  • Strong sleepiness

Other common side effects include:

Serious Side Effects

Most people don’t have any major issues with Lyrica. But you could get swelling in your hands, feet, or legs. This can be a big problem if you have a heart condition.

It’s rare, but you could have a serious allergic reaction. Get medical help right away if you have:

Like all antiepileptic drugs, Lyrica can raise your chances of suicidal thoughts or actions. Tell your doctor if your mood suddenly changes or gets worse.

Before You Take Lyrica

Tell your doctor about any other drugs you take, including over-the-counter meds, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Lyrica can also interact with some prescription drugs. That can make side effects more intense.

You should specifically mention if you take medicine for any of the following:

  • Blood pressure. If you take an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, Lyrica can raise your chances of swelling or hives.
  • Diabetes. That includes rosiglitazone (Avandia), rosiglitazone and metformin (Avandamet), or pioglitazone (Actos). You’re more likely to gain weight or get swelling in your hands and feet if you take Lyrica with these drugs.
  • Pain or anxiety. You could get dizzy and sleepy if you pair Lyrica with narcotics like oxycodone or anxiety drugs like lorazepam. Tell your doctor if you take these or another drug that makes you drowsy.

Bring up any other medical conditions, including:

Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant, might get pregnant, or breastfeeding. Lyrica can show up in your breast milk.

If you’re male, tell your doctor if you’re trying to have a baby. Studies in animals show that Lyrica can change sperm or cause birth defects. Scientists aren’t sure if it will do the same thing to people.

How to Stop Taking Lyrica

If you decide Lyrica isn’t right for you, tell your doctor so they can help you stop by gradually lowering your dose. Don’t suddenly quit taking it. That could trigger a seizure, even if you’ve never had one before. You may have other problems, including:

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Alison Alford, MD, Pediatric Headache Center of Richmond, Richmond, VA.

Jennifer McVige, MD, DENT Neurologic Institute, Amherst, NY.

DailyMed (NIH): “Lyrica – pregabalin capsule, Lyrica – pregabalin solution.”

American Migraine Foundation: “Preventive Treatments.”

Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience: “Pregabalin as a Pain Therapeutic: Beyond Calcium Channels.”

The Journal of Headache and Pain: “Efficacy and tolerability of pregabalin as preventive treatment for migraine: a 3-month follow-up study.”

Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research: “Comparison of Pregabalin and Sodium Valproate in Migraine Prophylaxis: A randomized Double-Blinded Study.”

FDA: “Medication Guide: Lyrica (pregabalin).”

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