People who have rheumatoid arthritis have a higher risk of developing another rheumatic condition: fibromyalgia. Lyrica, an anti-epileptic and anticonvulsant drug to control seizures, is also used to control pain from nerve damage and to treat fibromyalgia.
While it's possible a doctor might recommend Lyrica for pain management of rheumatoid arthritis, the drug has not been approved for treating RA.
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According to the Arthritis Foundation
, between 20 percent and 30 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients develop fibromyalgia, but the reason is unknown. Symptoms of fibromyalgia include chronic pain throughout the body, fatigue, difficulty with memory, and mood changes. Infectious illness, trauma, or hormonal changes may be involved in the pain, fatigue, and sleep problems from the disease.
Lyrica is approved by the FDA to treat fibromyalgia because of its effectiveness in easing pain, promoting sleep, and reducing fatigue, the Foundation said. A combination of treatments may be necessary to find the right solution to chronic fibromyalgia and arthritic pain.
Pregabalin, Lyrica's generic form, was first developed as a medication to treat seizures, but was found to relieve pain, anxiety, and sleep problems from fibromyalgia.
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Lyrica also works to treat damaged nerves from diabetes, shingles, and spinal cord injury.
The drug can cause side effects, however, including mental health changes that may develop into suicidal thoughts and behavior, said Drugs.com
. Mental health issues also include panic attacks, agitation, irritability, anxiety, depression, aggressive behavior, and withdrawal from friends and family.
Common side effects include dizziness, tiredness, headache, lack of coordination, muscle twitching, uncontrollable shaking, nausea, constipation, confusion, and forgetfulness. Chest pain, muscle pain, shortness of breath and blurred vision are serious side effects. Patients should contact their doctor or seek medical help if they have serious side effects.
People considering Lyrica for treatment should consult their doctor about their medical history, especially vision problems, blood disorders, heart disease, kidney disease, or depression, said Everyday Health
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