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phurrballepphurrballe Posts: 57
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Chronic Pain
HI Everyone. I am a new member and I am so glad I found this web site. I am 50-something female and have had on and off leg/butt pain for 2 years, I thought it was a hamstring injury since I am (was) so active and treating it as such. I had no idea it was something else. My back is perfectly pain free. 4 weeks ago at the gym using a leg press, I felt what seemed like a massive pull in that buttock. I could barely even walk afterward - the pain (still felt like hamstring - still no back pain but now the butt and leg pain is constant, severe and lifestyle-changing. I can walk but it is cery painful. stiing for no more than 10 misnutes before it becomes bad. Only position that feels OK is the fetal with a moist heat pad on my butt and thigh. MRI shows mild spinal stenosis L3 and moderate L4 and L5. I am into my 3rd week of PT. I had a course of oral prednisone which seemed to help a little by the 3rd day and have Darvocet for pain (not doing much at all)and 600 ,g Presctiption Motrin 3 times a day. I just saw a PM as refered by my ortho doctor and he recommeded the epidural shot - I got scared and wanted to try another med first. I was given a script for Lyrica but the side effects scare me although he said it takes a few weeks to realize its benefits, if any.

The side effects of Lyrica, will they go away over time? Is there a withdrawal problem wit Lyrica if I decide to stop them due to side effects? Based on my pain, which is between 7 and 10 almost all the time, am I foolish to not go right for the injection? I do not tolerate meds all that well either so I am very upset and undecisive if I made the right choice.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.


  • Hello Phurrball and Welcome to Spine-health!!

    You have found a wonderful and supportive forum!!

    I do not kow anything about the side effects of Lyrica but have seen lots of people post about it...so I am sure one of them will post very soon!!

    I just wanted to say HI!! :)
  • It controlled about 30%, but I was on other synergistic meds.

    Side effects for me were weight gain - fluid mainly. Other than that, I worked well for me.

    As time went on though, the gain got too bad. For myself the weight increased the discomfort substantially.

  • Thank you. I am not happy about the side effects at all. I also suffer from thyroidal hair loss and I have come across some posts regarding hair loss. Is neurontin a less offensive choice when compared to Lyrica? I actually am seeing "no" but thought I'd ask for anyone's experiences.

    This is so exasperating and I am in such pain right now but do not want to make a harsh decision. I read the epidural injections are relatively successful too.

    I am so confused :(
  • Honestly - I was on 10 to 15 meds, in slow progression, to find something that worked. I had started with the typical, T1's to T3's, Anti inflammatory and then into cocktails that were under my Dr oversight. He is very old school and still prefers using the basic meds, that he started with in Med school, instead of the latest and greatest.

    So - rushing through stuff, was not an option at all.

    I still have not had "shots" as my issues are degenerative and in some cases, in increases the speed of degen.

    Take Care

    EDIT - One thing I should have pointed out,, is that people have very individual body chemistry. What works for me - may work for you, what works for me, may have significant issues for you. But I have continued to keep trying meds and have found that several that work well and some that are Emerg meds. Things that work very well on a shortterm basis!

    It is about finding things for the toolkit!
  • I would personally try both. If one doesn't work the other might. I take lyrica and I'm very happy with the changes it has made in my pain. I have also done injections but for me they only last two weeks by the third injection it did nothing at all. As far as side effects go with lyrica, I'm very lucky because I have had none. I hope something takes your pain away soon
  • After being on lyrica for a few years, with good pain control, my insurance denied my script. My PM switched me to gabapentin. It seems to work, but I am on my first month. I also take four other meds for my back. No need to fear the epidual. I only had two. the first really hurt. After no improvement from the second my PM said no more. Best of luck to ya!
  • Hi phurrballe,

    Welcome to the Spine-Health support forum! Glad you decided to join the discussions.

    I am recovering from lumbar fusion and am presently on Lyrica for nerve pain in my leg. Have been taking it for about 5 weeks now and it works wonderfully well at controlling my pain, but I have apparently been taking quite a high dose (550 mg/day) of it and my surgeon has me weaning myself off of it to see how I do.

    The side effects for me were a kind of dizzy, loopy sort of feeling in my head but that went away after a week or so. I do have occasional days where it comes back for some reason I have not been able to figure out. I do notice some short-term memory problems but they're not severe. Those are the only side effects I've experienced. Lyrica can cause weight gain (increased appetite is apparently the cause) but that hasn't been a problem for me.

    I hope this helps in your decision-making process and that you find the solution to your pain. :)

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • and appreciate your concern of the side effects. I have been on Lyrica since March. I lost 21 lbs after my fusion, and have gained 8 lbs back, so I'm not sure if the Lyrica contributed, but my weight has been stable for 4 months or so. Not noticed hair loss, and actually my hair is fairly thick right now. I do have a little dizziness, and have a little forgetfulness, but I have always made notes to myself for everything, so it hasn't been much of an issue.

    I did run out of Lyrica while staying with my parents for a few days about a month ago, and I noticed a significant increase in my pain, so I will not let that happen again.

  • Howdy and WELCOME to Spine Health!!! I was put on Lyrica last December, and for me, the first 4 or 5 days I was dizzy or light headed. I then gained over 45 pounds in the next few months. I think some of that was the Lyrica, and some from much reduced activity from my last surgery. I've since lost 20+ pounds....slowly creeping off!! I accept the weight over the pain any day! Other than that, I didn't have a problem. When I had the lightheaded feeling, I think too thinking back...was really tired - but was short lived!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thanks everyone! I am still on the fence. I was thinking of choosing the Lyrica over epidural injections but became scared of the side effects. But I am not sure that is right decision either. Needless to say, I am still very confused but in a lot of pain and am hearing the advanatages of Lyrica and the "hitor miss" with injections.

    I appreciate everyone's experiences though. I have much to think about.

  • Phurr,

    I know for me, they never helped (the epi's), and they certainly didn't make any difference in the pain in my legs or arms. Unfortunately "side affects" are possible with most any drug. We all have to individually decide if it's worth the risk, and too is there a risk with other medications we are already on.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hi phurreballe and welcome. I also took Lyrica, but only for a month, as I gained about 25lbs within that time. It was a mixture of water retention and actual weight gain. I was so bloated while on it, my tummy stuck out and it hurt. Somebody actually asked me when my due date was!! However, the pain relief was fantastic. I'd say my pain was about %60 less. I had changed from gabapentin (neurontin) to go on it, but switched back as the weight gain was too fast and worried me. Brenda above and I have had this discussion before, she settled with the weight gain, and I admitted to being too vain ;)

    But, everyone is different, there are a lot of people who never gained weight while on it, so give it a try and see how you like it. I can't say if I had any other side effects, as I wasn't sure if it was from coming off the neurontin, or from the Lyrica, but I do remember some dizziness which went away after about a week.

    I've never had an epidural. I do have the same symptoms as you though, with the butt/back of leg pain. I did at one point tear my hamstring, which nobody caught, but also have DDD in lower lumbar and arthritis in my hip on that side. I had an SI (sacroiliac) Joint injection about a month ago, and it actually helped with the symptoms, I was almost 2 weeks symptom free! Now, it's just if I'm sitting for a long time (before it was instantly) or walking, like through the grocery store, that it comes back. Before the injection it was constant pain, no matter what position I was in (except for laying down, it was much less then) or what I was doing. So, that could be something you might look into.

    Not meaning to scare you off, because if you're getting the right injection for the right condition, they work wonders, but any injection hurts while they're doing it. You could have some pain after, as the steroid irritates the nerves, but it does go away.

    With pain management, it's all trial and error unfortunately, as what works for me might not work for you, including meds or injections. I wish you luck in your search for what works for you, and again, welcome to our community!

    p.s. I just wanted to also add that most of the meds we take, one of the nasty side effects is constipation, so be sure to include lots of fibre in your diet and drink lots of water!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • ..last night was a turning point. I was in so much pain and I could not get comfortable, even getting in to my trust fetal position , heating pad on my butt. I woke up this morning and decided I should at least try the Lyrica, 75mg 2 X a day. If I have side effects on this amount, I will stop it. I am light headed but I have not eaten much today so I am not yet attributing it to the Lyrica.

    I resisted this but I felt I should try all options. Is the typical wait period to see if it is working a few weeks? I plan on giving it a month so hopefully that is enough time.

    Thanks for all the advice and suggestions. This web site is a God send to me.

  • Good to hear you started the Lyrica. I felt light headed at times and a little groggy also but got relief after 5 days. Some people I heard it helped right away. I was on Lyrica for about a year until a PM Dr. prescribed Cymbalta for me instead and it has worked better for me for sciatic pain.

    Lyrica made me gain a lot of weight mostly water weight and gained 45 lbs and swelled up and the first indications were my shoes didn't fit me, but that doesn't happen to everyone and I was on the maximum dosage!

    Try to eat healthy even soups and yogurt if you don't feel like eating so it will hopefully stop the light headed feeling. I hope it helps you it did help my leg numbness and tingling and pain get reduced. Best wishes and keep us posted. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Since my pain was so intense that I was (like you described) curled up in the fetal position - my NS started me off at the recommended max. That being 150mg 2x a day. Once it built up in my body, the dizzy and tired feelings went away (like 4 or 5 days?) and the pain knocked down around 80-85% for me. But for me, 90% of my overall pain most times is NERVE pain vs mechanical pain (slowly changing sadly).

    Your doctor might up your dosage to find what works best for you. Just give it time to pass the dizzy part, and you hopefully will be sooooo much better off in the pain department. I think it took like 3 days for me to really start seeing that it works!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I find that if trying a medication can help me avoid a physical intervention like having an epidural needle penetrate my back, it's worth giving it a try.

  • OK, now I am getting really upset. To be fair, my pain management guy first suggested to me the epidural needle to block the pain. It was me who suggested the Lyrica - he said it was a viable option so he wrote the script. After a little internal debating for a day or two, I decided to start it yesterday and as expected and since I am very sensitive to medications in general, it knocked my on to my tush! But I thought I would give it the 4 weeks before I considered the epidural approach. I am still not going to work so it would be a good time to get the intitial side effect thing out of the way while home. When DOES the dizziness subside - after a week or so?

    Today I went for a follow up with my orhtopedic - he recommended the PM I am seeing, by the way. When I told him I was on the Lyrica he felt it was not the right approach and that the epidural shot was the better way to go.

    I am in tears; I am confused and overwhelmed! Did I make a bad decision? I am not all "hepped up" about a needle to the back but is introducing this nasty drug systemically bad too?

    Problem is, I am using all my energy to battle this constant discomfort that even a decision about my health like this is too much for me. Thanks for letting me vent ...

  • I can sympathize with you. I've been trying to find a drug to control my neuro pain since I had to come off the neurontin two months ago. So far I've tried nortryptiline which gave me hives, cymbalta which gave me headaches and now the Lyrica.

    My doctor has me taking 25 mg just before bed so I haven't had the dizzyness or at least i don't know about it. I have noticed some swelling in my lower legs by the end of the day but it is gone when I get up in the morning. He is supposed to call me back today and I assume up the dosage since it's been a week now.

    I get very frustrated with the time it takes to build up on each drug and then taper back off. But at least I will know we tried everything. As far as the injections I would think that if you are sensitive to injected meds then systemic meds might be just as bad and longer acting. As you can see from my history I like to try the least invasive options first. So I would hang in with the Lyrica for a bit and see what happens. The injection will always be there if this doesnt work,
  • When I first started on Lyrica, I took one 50mg capsule a day. Then a few weeks later I took it twice a day, and so on.

    One of the things we said in anesthesia is that you can always take more, but you can never take it back. It never hurts to start out slowly, but I'm very conservative when it comes to my meds.

    I just started taking 100mg twice a day last month, and I've been on Lyrica since March.

    Good luck,


  • Thanks Kris and Lisa. I am staying with the Lyrica for the 4 weeks as planned. If it is not effective by then, I will stop it and go to plan B, which is the epidural.
    Lisa, is the Lyrica helping you at all?
    Kris, I hear you on the build up thing. I hate to have to wait 4 weeks to see if Lyrica makes a difference. :>( Good luck.

  • It does help some, probably 25-30%. I will take that over zero. For me, I am not using it to not have injections or other invasive modalities. More like if I were taking an ibuprofen. It just helps moderate the pain, not eliminate the pain. I took for several months, and then thought it wasn't working, so I stopped it, and quickly found out that it did help some. It is no overnight success, just a piece of the pie.

  • Thank you Lisa. I agree. At this point I will take ANY level of relief. I am tolerating the Lyrica well now. Not so dizzy & hope this low dose takes the edge off the pain. I will not increase the does though. If this does not work, I will consider the epidural. I am getting more movement during the day which is encouraging but the evenings are still very bad. I cannot get comfortable at all and my only sleep comes with an Ambien and industrial strength Motrin. I have never taken so many pills before and I hate it but I am desperate to feel better. I am hoping the little extra movement during the day is encouraging and a sign that I am on my way to feeling better. Good luck with your plan of action too! :>)
  • One thing to keep in mind, is that ortho docs focus their "vision" mainly on structural and inflammatory problems that they feel they can "solve" with either immobilization, permanent fixation or injections. So if he feels the issue is one of inflammation, then he may see that as targeting the source of your pain versus the medication being the bandaid to cover or mask the pain. Another way to look at it is that the human body has a wonderful ability to heal itself if given the time. It's a much better way to heal some things, then an invasive procedure to "encourage" it to heal. So some folks have to decide how long they are willing to give their own body to do it's magic, before going for the assist.

    Hope that makes sense.

    Good luck with the Lyrica. I hope you find some much needed relief.

  • Thank you, C. I know that ortho's come from a more structural POV so I take that into consideration. Ultimately I am my own health advocate. I had serious thyroid issues in 2009 & saw a mutlitude of doctors before it was diagnosed correctly. Had I not been my own advocate, researched a lot on my own and joined several support message boards, I might have been content with the first few doctors diagnosis, which were ALL wrong! So if what a medical professional has to say just does not sit right with you, you always have the option to go in another direction. I feel sticking with the Lyrica for a month is a good direction regardless of what my ortho says. I am tolerating it well now so I am remaining positive!
    I love this support group though - I am reading alot of other posts and gaining tons of information. That is what I need. Information is power!!!

  • I am on my 4th day of Lyrica. Maybe it is my hopeful imagination or maybe it is for real but I am feeling a tiny bit of the edge of the pain being taken off. I have gotten beyond the lightheadedness and dizziness so my body has adjusted. I am still in marked pain but I feel a little improvement. I am hoping and praying it is the Lyrica starting to kick in. Is this too soon> I read some have noticed positive results early on but I could be imagining things...either way, I am staying hopeful.

    Thank you for this forum and wonderful people who share their advice and experiences. This has been a Godsend to me....Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!
  • Phurr,

    As I mentioned, my NS right out of the box put me on 300mg a day (150mg 2x a day). I too had the dizzy/light headed feelings for about 4 or 5 days, but I started noticing it (the pain) going down by day 4. I think if I remember correctly, it has to "build up" in your system.

    It might be if you start to get relief, but still have some nerve pain going on, your doctor might up your dosage to see what works best. Glad to see the side effects are calming down. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • After six months of increasing leg pain, Lyrica was prescribed for me. Doc said he read a report that to be effective in controlling nerves a minimum of 300MG per day was necessary.

    It also makes me loopy and I have had weight gain. After two weeks, I am still experiencing some sluggishness but it has helped with the pain.

    MRI reports Grade 1, degenerative spono of the L5 with respect to S1.

    Injections provided tempoary relief. Back is fine.
    Have had to limit any physical activity. Limited walking seems to help. By limited I mean 30-60 minutes of a moderate pace.

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