Pain medication — anti-seizure medication to reduce neck and back pain

Most people consider anti-seizure medications to only be beneficial for people treating epilepsy or other seizure-related conditions. However, research over the past several years has shown that anti-seizure medication also acts as a pain-reliever for people with spine conditions and nerve damage along the spinal canal.

If you are suffering from nerve damage that is causing you chronic pain and radiating pain in your extremities, you may benefit from an anti-seizure medication prescription. Consult your physician about your pain and symptoms and have your physician determine if anti-seizure medication is the right treatment option for your needs. Please note that taking this medication will not treat your condition; it will only treat the pain caused by your spine condition.

Anti-seizure medication overview

Anti-seizure medication, also called neuroleptic drugs, is commonly used to treat seizure-related medical conditions, such as epilepsy. Over years of research, doctors found that one of the main functions of neuroleptic drugs is that they relieve pain caused by nerve damage. Similar to narcotic medications for back pain, anti-seizure medication interferes with the neural transmission of pain from the nerve root to the brain.

When a nerve in the spinal cord is damaged, it may unnecessarily send pain signals to the brain, even when the nerve itself is not being compressed. The most common spine condition that causes a damaged nerve root is a herniated disc. The herniated disc might compress a nerve root so tightly that it damages the nerve, causing unnecessary pain signals even after the nerve is decompressed.

The most common neuroleptic drugs used to treat back pain include:

  • Gabapentin
  • Pregabalin

Always consult your physician before beginning a new treatment regimen for back pain, especially when your treatment plan includes medication. While anti-seizure medication offers great benefits for relieving back pain, it can also come with negative side effects that should be considered before the medication is administered.

Possible side effects of anti-seizure medication for back pain

Like most medications, neuroleptic drugs have possible negative side effects that should be considered when deciding if this is the right treatment option for you. Newer anti-seizure medications, such as gabapentin and pregabalin, have fewer side effects than the older medications. The most common side effects associated with the newer neuroleptic drugs include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Swelling in extremities

If you are taking an older anti-seizure medication, such as carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, phenytoin and valproic acid, the possible side effects include:

  • Liver damage
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Double vision
  • Loss of coordination
  • Headache
  • In very rare, severe cases, patients might experience suicidal thoughts or depression

If you are experiencing any of these negative symptoms, you should consult your physician immediately.

If you are not finding adequate pain relief from taking neuroleptic medications, you might want to consider alternative routes of treatment. You can explore other means of conservative treatment for back pain, such as physical therapy and chiropractic care, or consider a surgical treatment option to get to the core of your spine condition.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery to help treat most spine conditions and chronic neck and back pain. Our minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery offer a safer, more effective alternative to traditional open back surgery. During our surgical procedures, a small incision is made in the back, sparing all local muscles and soft tissues from being cut or torn. Our patients experience a shorter recovery time§ than patients who undergo traditional back surgery.

If you are interested in learning more about our minimally invasive treatment options for your chronic neck or back pain, we encourage you to reach out to our care team. We are here to help you find the best solution for your spine care needs.