Pregabalin: Mechanism of Action, Indications, Risks, Side Effects, Interactions and Withdrawal Symptoms

It is an oral medication that is classified as an anticonvulsant medication.

Lyrica is the brand name for an anti-seizure medication, called pregabalin, and is considered by many to be a pain reliever medication.

It is indicated for the treatment of four specific conditions, and although it is not indicated or approved by the FDA for the treatment of pain, doctors prescribe it (off-label) to treat certain types of chronic pain .

Drug class and mechanism of action of pregabalin

The Lyrica drug binds to a part of the nerves and this is thought to reduce the ability of the nerves to send pain messages to each other.

It slows down impulses in the brain that cause seizures and affects chemicals in the brain that send pain signals through the nervous system.

Indications for use

It is a drug approved by the FDA for use in adults 18 years of age and older to treat:

  • Fibromyalgia .
  • Diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
  • Seizures
  • Shingles pain (postherpetic neuralgia).

While Lyrica is not indicated to treat pain for conditions other than those listed above, it is sometimes prescribed by doctors to treat certain forms of pain, such as back pain and chronic pain.

This is known as an off-label prescription. Lyrica is believed to have a low potential for abuse or addiction (a Schedule V drug). For some patients, Lyrica goes to work in as little as one week.

For others, it may take several weeks for it to take effect, so patients should be sure to discuss this with their doctor.

Possible risks and side effects of pregabalin

As with any medication, there are several reported potential risks and side effects with taking Lyrica.

More common:

  • Addition.
  • Dizziness.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Weight gain and swelling of the hands.

Less common:

  • Blurry vision.
  • Fluid retention.
  • Loss of balance.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Difficult to focus.


  • Rash, allergic reactions.
  • Constipation , stomach pain.
  • Joint pain, muscle cramps.

The drug Lyrica can cause different levels of drowsiness in certain people. For some, this may mean that they have to avoid any activity that forces them to be alert, such as driving.

Alcohol and other medicines that cause drowsiness (such as medicines for colds, certain pain, seizures, depression, or medicines for anxiety) can complicate the sedative effects of Lyrica.

Some patients taking Lyrica have reported allergic reactions (such as swelling of the face, lips, neck or hives and difficulty breathing).

Patients with any allergic reaction should stop taking Lyrica and contact their doctor immediately.

There are no conclusive studies on the effects of pregabalin in pregnant women.

It is not known whether the drug passes through the breast milk of the nursing mother or what the effect would be on a baby.

For patients with specific conditions, such as congestive heart failure, diabetes, or kidney disease, they may not be able to take the drug or special follow-up tests may be required.

It is always best to inform any treating healthcare professional that you are taking Lyrica.

In an emergency, it is best to carry an ID card or medical alert bracelet stating that you are taking Lyrica.

Interactions with other drugs

There may be other medicines not listed that can affect Lyrica. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medicines you use.

This includes vitamins, supplements, and prescriptions.

Withdrawal symptoms

It is typical to experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking Lyrica. To avoid or minimize withdrawal symptoms, the treating physician should prescribe a program to reduce the medication over time.

In general, Lyrica should be gradually discontinued over a week. Withdrawal symptoms can include flu-like symptoms, such as:

  • Headache.
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nausea.
  • Diarrhea.

This medication should be taken exactly as prescribed, following the directions on the prescription label. It should be taken with a glass of water and can be taken with or without food.

It should be taken at the same time every day. Lyrica medication should be taken at the prescribed dose. Patients should never take a double dose if a dose is missed; if it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the missed dose.

Other facts about pregabalin

  • Prescription required: yes
  • Generic shape available: No
  • FDA Approval: June 2005
  • Capsules (mg): 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200, 225, 300 mg
  • Maintenance: Lyrica should be stored at room temperature and kept away from moisture or direct light.