Gabapentin is a medication indicated for use in to treat different seizure presentations, peripheral neuropathic pain and migraine prophylaxis. Other uses include bipolar disorder and post-herpetic neuralgia, though these are off-label uses. This medication was originally designed to be a GABA analog, but does not act on the same neuronal receptors. The mode by which this medication works as an anticonvulsant and treats pain is not entirely clear, though there are theorized mechanisms of action. It is known, however, that gabapentin inhibits high voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, leading to decreased levels of mono-amine neurotransmitters.
Patients taking this drug often complain of sedation and feeling sluggish. Another side effect, seen only in a small percentage of users, is ataxia.
Gabapentin is primarily used as a treatment for seizures. It has anti-convulsant actions against simple and complex partial seizures, as well as tonic-clonic (grand mal) generalized seizures.
This drug is particularly useful for treating peripheral neuropathies in patients, such as chronic neuropathic pain or fibromyalgia.
An off-label use of this drug is postherpetic neuralgia, which occurs along dermatomic regions in response to Varicella infections. A gabapentin-related drug, pregabalin, is used more often, however.
An off-label use for Gabapentin is as a mood-stabilizer for bipolar disorder. This drug has little activity by itself, and is almost always combined with another mood stabilizing agent when used for this indication.
Migraine prophylaxis is an indication which has been highly debated for gabapentin use. This drug is often prescribed as a preventative measure.
This drug interacts with high voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, inhibiting their action and decreasing mono-amine neurotransmitters. Beyond this mechanism, it is highly debated and mostly unknown how gabapentin works.
Gabapentin, per its namesake, was designed for the purpose of being a GABA analog, but primarily works by another mechanism of action, which is unclear.
Patients taking this medication may describe difficulty with walking, also known as ataxia. Pronounced ataxia is also a sign of gabapentin overdose.
Patients taking this medication primarily complain of sedation. Often patients will feel mentally sluggish, and a small percentage may complain of ataxia.
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