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Gabapentin (By mouth)

Treats seizures and pain caused by shingles.

What works?

Learn more about the effects of these drugs. The most reliable research is summed up for you in our featured article.

Gabapentin is used to help control partial seizures (convulsions) in the treatment of epilepsy. This medicine cannot cure epilepsy and will only work to control seizures for as long as you continue to take it. Gabapentin is also used in adults to manage a condition called postherpetic neuralgia, which is pain that occurs after shingles. Gabapentin works in the brain to prevent seizures and relieve… Read more
Brand names include
Convenience Pak, Cyclo/Gaba 10/300 Pack, FusePaq Fanatrex, Gabarone, Gralise, Gralise Starter Pack, Neurontin, Smart RX Gaba-V, SmartRx Gaba Kit
Drug classes About this
Anticonvulsant, Neuropathic Pain Agent

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Gabapentin for acute postoperative pain in adults

Gabapentin is a medicine used primarily to treat epilepsy and also pain caused by damage to nerves (neuropathic pain). Gabapentin is not normally used to treat pain due to injury or pain after an operation; it is debatable whether gabapentin is an effective pain medicine under such circumstances. We aimed to investigate whether gabapentin is effective in the treatment of acute postoperative pain in adults. We identified four unpublished clinical trials with 370 participants who received either gabapentin or placebo (sugar pill). Gabapentin 250 mg does provide some relief in acute postoperative pain but it is not as good as some other medicines commonly used in this setting, particularly ibuprofen, diclofenac, and naproxen, and probably paracetamol (acetaminophen) alone or in combination with a weak opioid.

Antiepileptics other than gabapentin, pregabalin, topiramate, and valproate for preventing migraine attacks in adults

Various medicines, collectively termed 'antiepileptics', are used to treat epilepsy. For several years, three antiepileptics have also been recommended as drugs of first choice (topiramate and valproate) or third choice (gabapentin) for preventing migraine attacks. These three drugs, along with one other (pregabalin), are the subject of separate Cochrane reviews. For the present review, researchers in The Cochrane Collaboration reviewed the evidence about the effect of other antiepileptics in adult patients (≥ 16 years of age) with 'episodic' migraine (headache on < 15 days per month). They examined research published up to 15 January 2013 and found 10 studies of nine different antiepileptics. The majority of these drugs were no better than placebo for migraine prophylaxis (acetazolamide, carisbamate, clonazepam, lamotrigine, oxcarbazepine, and vigabatrin). In one study each, carbamazepine and levetiracetam were better than placebo, and there was no significant difference between zonisamide and topiramate (a drug proven to be effective for migraine prophylaxis). None of these studies was of high methodological quality. The quantity and quality of the evidence were such that no firm conclusions could be drawn about the effect or lack of effect of any of the antiepileptics studied.

Gabapentin or pregabalin for preventing migraine attacks in adults

Various medicines, collectively termed 'antiepileptics', are used to treat epilepsy. For several years, some of these drugs have also been used for preventing migraine attacks. For the present review, researchers in The Cochrane Collaboration reviewed the evidence about the effects of gabapentin and two related drugs (pregabalin and gabapentin enacarbil) in adult patients (≥ 16 years of age) with 'episodic' migraine (headache on < 15 days per month). They examined research published up to 15 January 2013, along with three unpublished and previously confidential drug company research reports, and found six relevant studies, five of gabapentin and one of gabapentin enacarbil, both over a wide dose range. The studies showed that neither gabapentin nor gabapentin enacarbil was more effective than placebo at reducing the frequency of migraine headaches. Gabapentin commonly caused side effects, especially dizziness and somnolence (sleepiness). No studies of pregabalin were identified, and research on this drug is desirable.

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Summaries for consumers

Gabapentin for acute postoperative pain in adults

Gabapentin is a medicine used primarily to treat epilepsy and also pain caused by damage to nerves (neuropathic pain). Gabapentin is not normally used to treat pain due to injury or pain after an operation; it is debatable whether gabapentin is an effective pain medicine under such circumstances. We aimed to investigate whether gabapentin is effective in the treatment of acute postoperative pain in adults. We identified four unpublished clinical trials with 370 participants who received either gabapentin or placebo (sugar pill). Gabapentin 250 mg does provide some relief in acute postoperative pain but it is not as good as some other medicines commonly used in this setting, particularly ibuprofen, diclofenac, and naproxen, and probably paracetamol (acetaminophen) alone or in combination with a weak opioid.

Antiepileptics other than gabapentin, pregabalin, topiramate, and valproate for preventing migraine attacks in adults

Various medicines, collectively termed 'antiepileptics', are used to treat epilepsy. For several years, three antiepileptics have also been recommended as drugs of first choice (topiramate and valproate) or third choice (gabapentin) for preventing migraine attacks. These three drugs, along with one other (pregabalin), are the subject of separate Cochrane reviews. For the present review, researchers in The Cochrane Collaboration reviewed the evidence about the effect of other antiepileptics in adult patients (≥ 16 years of age) with 'episodic' migraine (headache on < 15 days per month). They examined research published up to 15 January 2013 and found 10 studies of nine different antiepileptics. The majority of these drugs were no better than placebo for migraine prophylaxis (acetazolamide, carisbamate, clonazepam, lamotrigine, oxcarbazepine, and vigabatrin). In one study each, carbamazepine and levetiracetam were better than placebo, and there was no significant difference between zonisamide and topiramate (a drug proven to be effective for migraine prophylaxis). None of these studies was of high methodological quality. The quantity and quality of the evidence were such that no firm conclusions could be drawn about the effect or lack of effect of any of the antiepileptics studied.

Gabapentin or pregabalin for preventing migraine attacks in adults

Various medicines, collectively termed 'antiepileptics', are used to treat epilepsy. For several years, some of these drugs have also been used for preventing migraine attacks. For the present review, researchers in The Cochrane Collaboration reviewed the evidence about the effects of gabapentin and two related drugs (pregabalin and gabapentin enacarbil) in adult patients (≥ 16 years of age) with 'episodic' migraine (headache on < 15 days per month). They examined research published up to 15 January 2013, along with three unpublished and previously confidential drug company research reports, and found six relevant studies, five of gabapentin and one of gabapentin enacarbil, both over a wide dose range. The studies showed that neither gabapentin nor gabapentin enacarbil was more effective than placebo at reducing the frequency of migraine headaches. Gabapentin commonly caused side effects, especially dizziness and somnolence (sleepiness). No studies of pregabalin were identified, and research on this drug is desirable.

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