Lyrica (pregabalin) is a very controversial medication in some areas. For example, it’s used for many people who have fibromyalgia (More positive Lyrica news for fibromyalgia ), but it seems to have caused serious side effects in some of the people who have taken it. It’s controversial because many people feel that it does more harm than good. That being said, it’s also helping an awful lot of people. Its labeled use allows doctors to prescribe it for neuropathic pain (nerve pain), which is very difficult to treat, most often caused as a complication of diabetes or shingles (post herpatic neuropathy). It’s also been used as an add-on medication (in addition to others) to treat epilepsy.
Now, doctors have found that Lyrica also seems to be helpful for people who live with restless legs syndrome. According to the NIH, restless legs syndrome is:
a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move when at rest in an effort to relieve these feelings. RLS sensations are often described by people as burning, creeping, tugging, or like insects crawling inside the legs. Often called paresthesias (abnormal sensations) or dysesthesias (unpleasant abnormal sensations), the sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful.
Although it’s not known for sure, estimates range from 5 to 10% of adults in the United States live with RLS. Disorders and problems that interfere with sleep can have severe consequences as a result of the sleep deprivation. So while RLS may not seem like a serious problem, it is.
Researchers from Spain reported last week that they had success in treating people with RLS using the medication Lyrica. According to their findings from the 58-patient study, three-quarters of those who had RLS and who took Lyrica experienced relief of symptoms – in other words, the symptoms went away. Of the remaining quarter, 66% experienced an improvement in their symptoms.
The group of patients who took the placebo instead of the Lyrica didn’t do as well. In fact, their symptoms worsened by 29%.
There are a few cautions however. First, the study is a small one. It’s hard to take serious results from a study of only 58 patients. The other issue is that this is an off-label use of the medication, which means it’s not FDA approved for this purpose.