If you have heard of anti-convulsants before, you may think these medications are only used to control seizures in people who have conditions like epilepsy. However, new research indicates that these medications may be effective in relieving acute and chronic pain as well. In fact, anti-convulsants are sometimes prescribed by the pain management physicians at the Regional Pain Institute to treat conditions, such as nerve pain (neuralgia) and fibromyalgia caused by injuries or diseases that adversely affect the nervous system. When you contact the Regional Pain Institute, our physicians will evaluate your condition, establish an accurate diagnosis, and suggest a viable treatment option. If you are a candidate for pharmacologic pain management plan, we’ll help determine if an anti-convulsant is the right medication for you. Read on to learn more about anti-convulsants for pain, how these medications work, and what you should consider before undergoing this type of treatment.

How Anti-convulsants Work to Provide Pain Relief Anti-convulsants are a diverse class of drugs known to the medical community as central nervous system depressants. Although the exact mechanism of action is unknown, anti-convulsants are understood to provide pain relief by preventing the spread of abnormal electric discharges in the brain and blocking the flow of pain signals from the central nervous system. At the Regional Pain Institute, prescriptions for anti-convulsants start in low doses and then slowly increase to a safe level until the medication effectively reduces acute or chronic pain. Examples of anti-convulsants used for pain include the following:

Generic Name

Classification

Brand Name

Carbamazepine

Carboxamides

Tegretol®

Gabapentin

GABA Analogues

Neurontin®

Phenytoin

Hydantoins

Dilantin®

Pregabalin

GABA Analogues

Lyrica®

Topiramate

Fructose Derivatives

Topamax ®

What you Should Consider before Taking Anti-convulsants for Pain
With just about any medication used as part of a pharmacologic pain management plan, there are risks and side effects to consider before treatment is administered. Side effects of anticonvulsants may include drowsiness, restlessness and irritability, confusion and dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, blurred vision, uncontrollable eye movements, and swollen feet. While taking anti-convulsants, patients may be asked to keep a journal or diary to record instances of pain and rate pain numerically when possible. Patients on an anti-convulsant drug should not suddenly stop taking this medicine as severe withdrawal effects could occur. If anti-convulsants are not effective or if you are experiencing problems while on the medication, our pain management physicians will gradually taper your dose for a safe withdrawal. If you have nerve pain or fibromyalgia, request your first appointment at the Regional Pain Institute to learn more about this and other pain management medications or treatment options.