Gabapentin: Uses & Dosage

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Shingles, epilepsy and restless legs syndrome might seem like disparate disorders. And they are, until you consider that they all have a similar potential treatment option called gabapentin.

Seizures

Have you ever seen a movie where an electrical cord was cut and then started to 'jump' back and forth, wild with electricity, in an uncontrollable manner? Well, imagine the same scenario going on with many different brains cells inside your head, and you get what's known as a seizure. This term refers to a situation with uncontrollable and abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

There are many drugs that are used to treat seizures and this lesson goes over the uses and dosages of one of them: gabapentin, the generic term for Neurontin.

Uses

Gabapentin is a type of anticonvulsant, a medication that stops seizures. Because it might be used to treat epilepsy (recurrent seizures), it's also sometimes called an antiepileptic drug as well. In short, gabapentin tells a person's brain cells to chill out. The brain cells relax and a seizure is thus less likely to occur. But no one is fully sure of exactly how gabapentin works.

What we can be more sure of, is its other uses. Gabapentin is used for neuropathic pain, pain stemming from a problem of the nervous system, especially the peripheral. The peripheral nervous system is the one that lies outside of the brain and spinal cord. For example, the nerves that innervate your hand are part of the peripheral nervous system.

As a result, gabapentin can exhibits some pain relieving (analgesic) properties. For instance, there's a sort of adult version of chicken pox that is much more painful, called shingles. The nerve pain that stems from shingles might be treated with gabapentin.

Gabapentin might also be used to help manage the pain from restless legs syndrome, as well as reduce the leg movements associated with the disorder.

These are the typical conditions where gabapentin might be used. Others include some types of tremors, hot flashes, some aspects of alcohol abuse and some complications of multiple sclerosis.

Dosages

Since gabapentin could cause serious side effects, you should consult with your doctor prior to starting, stopping or changing any of your medication. The following dosages are for informational purposes only:

  • For epilepsy, a maintenance does of 300-600 mg, by mouth, three times a day might be tried.
  • For shingles, a dose of 100 to 600 mg three time a day may help with pain.
  • For restless legs syndrome, a dose of 600 mg, once a day with food, around 5 PM might be recommended.

Lesson Summary

Gabapentin (generic name of Neurontin) is an anticonvulsant and antiepileptic. In other words, it helps prevent recurrent seizures.

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