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What Is Extended-Release Gabapentin Used For?

If you have postherpetic neuralgia pain (a type of nerve pain that can occur following a case of the shingles), you may benefit from extended-release gabapentin. This prescription medication is thought to work by binding to certain nerve receptors, helping to relieve symptoms such as burning, throbbing, or aching. Extended-release gabapentin may also be used off-label to treat epilepsy, migraines, and alcohol withdrawal.

An Overview of Uses for Extended-Release Gabapentin

Extended-release gabapentin (Gralise™) is a prescription medication used to treat postherpetic neuralgia (nerve pain that occurs after a case of shingles).
About one million people develop shingles each year, and a number of them experience a complication called postherpetic neuralgia. This is pain that is present in the affected area for months, or even years, after the shingles rash has healed. The most bothersome symptom of postherpetic neuralgia is pain. The pain can result in an inability to perform daily tasks of living and may be described as:
  • Agonizing
  • Excruciating
  • Burning
  • Sharp, electric-like jabs
  • Throbbing
  • Aching.
Postherpetic neuralgia treatment usually involves medication. Extended-release gabapentin is one of the medications approved to treat the pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia.
Notably, extended-release gabapentin is not approved to treat epilepsy (another gabapentin medication, Neurontin®, is approved for epilepsy treatment).

How Does This Medication Work?

It is not known exactly how this medication works to treat nerve pain. Preliminary research suggests that extended-release gabapentin binds to certain parts of calcium channels in the central nervous system, which may be how this medicine helps relieve nerve pain.
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