Can gabapentin cause muscle spasms? (3+ ways to relax)

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Page last updated: 23/09/2022

In this blog post, we are going to answer the question, “Can gabapentin cause muscle spasms?”. Gabapentin is a gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog and is used for a number of conditions. 

However, this medicine can cause a number of side effects including muscle spasms. This blog will also cover some tips that can help make your muscles relax. 

Can gabapentin cause muscle spasms? 

Yes, gabapentin can cause muscle spasms in some individuals. Several surveys have revealed involuntary jerks in their body, including face, arms and legs. Some people have also complained of painful back muscles 

A case study included a woman who was presented with myoclonus induced by the repeated use of gabapentin. The study also indicated that gabapentin can not only induce involuntary jerks in one or more types of muscles, but it can significantly worsen the pre-existing myoclonus. 

Another study also indicated that gabapentin can induce facial myoclonus and can make your facial muscles move involuntarily. 

This condition can make speaking and eating difficult for you. Make sure you rule out any existing health condition before starting to use gabapentin. 

This is exactly why it is recommended to give out your proper medical history and let your prescriber know about all the medications you’re currently taking. You should also include over-the-counter drugs that you often use. 

Is there anything that can help you with your gabapentin induced muscle spasms? 

There are a few things that might help you with your gabapentin induced muscle spasms. These include:

Dose reduction 

If your muscle spasms are very pronounced or they become more problematic after a recent dose escalation then reducing down your dose can help you with them. However, it is not recommended to reduce your dose without your doctor’s approval. 

High doses of gabapentin are associated with more pronounced and newer side effects, which are not that common on lower doses. This is why it is always advised to start your gabapentin with the lowest effective dose. 

Massage

You can try massaging your affected muscles with warm oil. It really helps reduce the swelling by increasing the blood flow, which also helps in healing broken tissues. You can try peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil to massage to relax your spastic muscles. . 

Can gabapentin cause muscle spasms? (3+ ways to relax)

Hot or cold press

You can try hot or cold press to relax your muscle spasms. It totally depends which one suits you more. Some people get relief from cold press, while others find hot press far more soothing and effective. 

Stay hydrated

It is Important to drink plenty of water. Dehydration can make your symptoms much worse. Water clears out toxins from your body. 

Several studies suggest that water can actually boost your energy levels and make you feel fresh and it also relaxes your muscles by providing them with enough hydration. 

Try making a detox water by adding your favourite fruits in it. You can add lemon, cucumber, kiwi, oranges, berries, ginger etc, to make drinking water less boring. This will not only add taste, but also makes your water nutritious and full of antioxidants. 

Use natural muscle relaxers

Nature has sources for pretty much everything. Following are the sources which can serve as natural muscle relaxers:

Chamomile 

Chamomile tea is best known for relaxing your muscles and making it easier for you to fall asleep. It contains many flavonoids which possess anti-inflammatory properties. 

You can try drinking chamomile tea or you can also try massaging with chamomile essential oil which can provide relief to your affected muscles. 

Blueberries 

A study shows that eating blueberries can help facilitate the recovery of affected muscles. It also reduces muscle tension. Blueberries are known to have antioxidants and it’s anti-inflammatory in nature. You can either consume them the way they are or make a delicious smoothie.

Cherries 

Consuming cherries is another delicious way to get rid of muscle tension. Studies have revealed that drinking cherry juice relaxes your muscles and can relieve your muscle pain after running or jogging. 

The fruit has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to help soothe your muscles naturally. 

Vitamin D

If you have vitamin D deficiency, you’re more likely to suffer from gabapentin induced muscle tension. Make sure you add vitamin D rich foods in your diet, like oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, red meat, liver, egg yolks etc.

It is also present in fortified foods, such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals. If your vitamin D level is extremely low, diet alone can not fix it. Your healthcare provider will recommend using supplements. 

Magnesium 

Magnesium is an important mineral for muscle health. It maintains normal muscle function and is also necessary for your nerve health. Common sources of magnesium include legumes, bananas, rice, almonds etc. 

In case of magnesium deficiency, your healthcare provider may prescribe you a supplement to replenish magnesium, as natural sources can help maintain it but for deficiency, you need something stronger.

Calcium 

Calcium is an important element associated with muscle contraction. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the daily recommended amount of calcium is given below:

  • For young adults: 1000 mg
  • For women over 50 years and men over 70 years: 1200 mg

Common sources of calcium include milk and other dairy foods, rice and almond milk, soy milk, fortified orange juice and salmon etc. 

What other medications can increase the intensity of your muscle spasms? 

Following are medications other than gabapentin, which can increase tension in your muscles and cause muscle spasms:

  • Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium)
  • Glucophage (metformin)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Ambien (zolpidem)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Ultram (tramadol)
  • Omeprazole
  • Famotidine 
  • Erectile dysfunction medications
  • Migraine medications
  • HIV medications

Make sure you are not using any of the above mentioned medications along with gabapentin. Always discuss with your healthcare provider before using two or more medications together. 

What are the additional side effects of gabapentin? 

Additional side effects of gabapentin include:

  • Xerostomia or dry mouth 
  • Weight gain 
  • Dizziness 
  • Somnolence
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Headache
  • Vision problems 
  • Cloudy mind
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors 
  • Confusion
  • Joint pain 
  • Difficulty in remembering things
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Unsteadiness
  • Muscle twitching 
  • Constipation 
  • Back pain
  • Increased appetite 
  • Fever

Gabapentin can cause some serious side effects. These include:

  • Suicidal behavior 
  • Impaired motor coordination 
  • Thrombocytopenia or decreased levels of platelets
  • Water retention
  • Rhabdomyolysis, a condition associated with abnormal breakdown of muscles
  • Convulsions 
  • Swelling or tenderness in different parts of the body.
  • Allergic reaction associated with symptoms like redness of skin, itching, burning sensation, blisters, blue-purple patches, tightness of chest, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, hoarseness etc. 

These side effects can vary from person to person. It is impossible to predict how your body will react once it is exposed to this medication. Some people get away with mild side effects, while others suffer terribly. 

Conclusion 

In this blog, we learned about gabapentin induced muscle spasms. This is the most commonly reported side effect. It usually goes away within the first few weeks of your treatment but if your symptoms persist, make sure you consult your healthcare provider.

Do not stop gabapentin abruptly thinking that your side effects will go away if you just stop taking it because that won’t happen. Instead. you’ll just end up opening your doors for withdrawal symptoms. Always consult your healthcare provider before you start or stop using any medication.

In this blog, we have also discussed the natural sources which can act as muscle relaxers. Make sure you incorporate chamomile, blueberries, cherries, vitamin D rich foods, magnesium and calcium in your diet. 

FAQs: can gabapentin cause muscle spasms 

Can gabapentin cause muscle jerking?

Yes, gabapentin can cause muscle jerking and spasms. Several surveys have revealed involuntary jerks in their body, including face, arms and legs. Some people have also complained of painful back muscles. 

A case study included a woman who was presented with myoclonus induced by the repeated use of gabapentin. The study also indicated that gabapentin can not only induce involuntary jerks in one or more types of muscles, but it can significantly worsen the pre-existing myoclonus

Does gabapentin help muscle spasms?

Gabapentin can help muscle spasms depending on the cause of them. However, gabapentin can itself induce muscle spasms in some individuals as a side effect, but it is believed to go away within a few weeks of your treatment. 

What is the most common side effect of gabapentin?

  • Xerostomia or dry mouth 
  • Weight gain 
  • Dizziness 
  • Somnolence
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Headache
  • Vision problems 
  • Cloudy mind
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors 
  • Confusion
  • Joint pain 

What medications should not be taken with gabapentin?

  • Narcotic analgesics: Both narcotic opioid analgesics and gabapentin decrease the amount of excitatory neurotransmitters in your brain. This can slow down your physiological functions including breathing rate. 
  • Alcohol can also act as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. The synergistic effects of alcohol and gabapentin can cause severe depression and suicidal behavior.
  • Certain diabetic agents may react with gabapentin and cause increased water retention, which results in swelling or edema in upper and lower extremities, or any other part of the body.

How do you relieve muscle spasms?

  • You can try massaging your affected muscles with warm oil. It really helps reduce the swelling by increasing the blood flow, which also helps in healing broken tissues.
  • You can try hot or cold press to relax your muscle spasms. 
  • It is Important to drink plenty of water. Dehydration can make your symptoms much worse. Water clears out toxins from your body. 
  • Chamomile tea is best known for relaxing your muscles and making it easier for you to fall asleep. It contains many flavonoids which possess anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • Magnesium is an important mineral for muscle health. It maintains normal muscle function and is also necessary for your nerve health. Common sources of magnesium include legumes, bananas, rice, almonds etc. 
  • Calcium is an important element associated with muscle contraction.
  • If you have vitamin D deficiency, you’re more likely to suffer from gabapentin induced muscle tension. Make sure you add vitamin D rich foods in your diet, like oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, red meat, liver, egg yolks etc.

What does gabapentin do to a person?

Gabapentin is a gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog. Gabapentin mimics the actions of GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. GABA works by inhibiting the excessive neuronal firing in the brain which reduces the frequency of epileptic seizures. 

Gabapentin is also used to reduce the intensity of neuropathic pain by inhibiting nociceptors (pain receptors). This medication is a prescription medication and should be taken only at doses determined by your healthcare professional. 

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