Neurontin is the trade name for the generic drug gabapentin. It is useful as an anti-epileptic drug and as an analgesic, particularly for pain of the neuropathic or neurogenic type. (pain from irritation or inflammation of nerves). When used for controlling epilepsy, it is usually used in conjunction with another anti-epileptic drug. It is used much more extensively in the medical field to treat pain than it is to treat epilepsy.
The chemical structure of gabapentin is related that of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which is a neurotransmitter in the brain. The exact mechanism as to how gabapentin controls epilepsy and relieves pain is unknown, but it probably acts like the neurotransmitter GABA.
Animal studies show that gabapentin prevents the development of allodynia (a normally non painful stimulus which is perceived as painful) and hyperalgesia (an exaggerated response to a painful stimulus).
Gabapentin can be very helpful in controlling the pain of trigeminal neuralgia (tic doloreaux), post herpetic neuralgia (the lingering pain after a bout of shingles), the pain of diabetic neuropathy and other neuritic pains such as pain from nerve irritation due spinal arthritis or disc disease and occipital neuralgia. Occasionally it seems to be helpful in controlling migraine and other headaches. It has also been reported to be helpful in controlling the pain of fibromyalgia.
Gabapentin is generally well tolerated. The main side effects are dizziness and drowsiness. Occasionally there maybe some fluid retention, unsteadiness or G.I upset, mainly diarrhea.
The effective dose of gabapentin varies greatly. Some persons need only 200-300 mg a day whereas others may need 3000 mg or more a day. It may take several weeks to become effective, so it is important to stay on it for an adequate length of time.