What Is Gabapentin Used For?
Gabapentin is prescribed for the treatment of partial seizures and for nerve pain following a shingles infection. When used to treat seizures, the drug should be used with other seizure medications. However, it can be used alone to treat postherpetic neuralgia. Off-label gabapentin uses include the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, migraine headaches, and bipolar disorder.
Gabapentin (Neurontin®) is a prescription medication approved for treatment of the following conditions:
- Epilepsy -- Gabapentin is used along with other seizure medications to treat partial seizures.
- Postherpetic neuralgia -- Gabapentin can also be used to treat this type of nerve pain that occurs after an outbreak of shingles.
Epilepsy is a brain condition involving sudden, brief changes in how the brain's electrical system works. This change in brain activity can lead to a seizure (see Epilepsy Symptoms). Depending on which part of the brain is affected, a seizure may affect the person's consciousness, body movements, emotions, or senses (taste, touch, smell, vision, or hearing).
Some people may only have a single seizure during their lives, and one seizure does not mean that a person has epilepsy (see Seizures and Epilepsy). In fact, the term "epilepsy" refers to a number of different kinds of unprovoked, recurring seizures that happen for a number of different reasons.
In over half of all cases, the cause of epilepsy is not known. When the cause is known, it may be one of the following:
- Other medical conditions, such as a stroke or Alzheimer's disease
- Head trauma
- Brain tumor or brain infection, such as meningitis
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Genetics (see Genes and Epilepsy).
There are over 30 different types of seizures a person with epilepsy may experience. These seizures are generally classified into two main categories: partial seizures (also known as focal seizures) and generalized seizures. Partial seizures occur in just one part of the brain (as opposed to generalized seizures, which affect both sides of the brain). About 60 percent of people with epilepsy have partial seizures. Two types of partial seizures are:
- Simple partial seizures, in which a person will remain conscious but experience unusual feelings or sensations that can take many forms.
- Complex partial seizures, in which a person has a change or loss of consciousness. People having a complex partial seizure may display strange, repetitious behaviors, such as blinks, twitches, mouth movements, or even walking in a circle.
Epilepsy treatments may include:
- Medications (see Epilepsy Medication)
- Surgery (see Epilepsy Surgery)
- Dietary changes (see Epilepsy Diet)
Gabapentin is approved to be used along with other seizure medications to treat partial seizures. It is not approved to be used alone for this use.