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Tiagabine is a prescription medication most often used to treat patients with seizure disorders; it is also used in the treatment of neuropathic pain to include chronic and acute back pain. While the exact mechanism by which tiagabine prevents seizures and reduces pain is not fully understood, the drug suppresses certain abnormal activity in the nervous system by increasing the availability of the neurotransmitter gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) to neural cells inside the brain. Tiagabine is available in tablet form and is usually taken two to four times per day. Patients generally begin with a low dose and gradually taper the amount taken up to the full prescribed dosage; a similar process is usually required for patients who wish to discontinue the use of this powerful medication.

Uses for Tiagabine

Tiagabine is most commonly used to treat seizures, but its effects on neural function can provide significant pain relief for patients with back injuries, spinal column disorders and other sources of nerve-related pain. Tiagabine is also used to manage the symptoms of the following conditions and diseases:

  • Partial seizures
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Diabetic neuropathic pain
  • Reactions to chemotherapy
  • Stroke-associated pain syndromes
  • Pain caused by pressure on nerves surrounding the spinal column

Patients suffering from post-surgical pain may be prescribed tiagabine in conjunction with other medications to produce the most effective pain relief.

Contraindications for Tiagabine

Patients with a history of allergic reactions to tiagabine or related anticonvulsant medications should not take tiagabine. Additionally, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using tiagabine, as its effects on the developing fetus and on infants are still not known.

Known Drug Interactions

Tiagabine may interfere with or amplify the effects of certain drugs and herbal supplements. Patients should inform their physician if they are currently taking any of the following medications:

  • Anticonvulsant medications, including carbamazepine and gabapentin
  • Antifungals
  • Medications in the quinolone family, including levofloxacin and norfloxacin
  • Diazepam
  • Antibiotics
  • Warfarin
  • Antihistamines and decongestants
  • Sedatives and sleeping pills
  • Medications containing caffeine
  • St. John’s wort

Additionally, the use of alcohol may amplify the drowsiness caused by tiagabine and should be used with caution and only under the advice of a physician.

Side Effects of Tiagabine

Tiagabine can have a number of side effects on patients. Minor side effects of tiagabine include the following:

  • Mood disturbances, including hostility, irritability and depression
  • Fatigue
  • Sleepiness
  • Changes in cognitive patterns
  • Stuttering and other speech problems
  • Nausea and stomach pain
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent urination

These side effects are typically mild and lessen over time. Tiagabine can also cause serious side effects, to include the following:

  • Rash, especially in the mouth, nose or throat
  • Tremors in hands
  • Tingling and numbness in the extremities
  • Seizures
  • Changes in visual acuity
  • Severe fatigue

Patients who experience any of these symptoms should contact their physician immediately. Some of these side effects may be life threatening, so quick medical attention is of vital importance.

Used as directed, tiagabine can provide real relief for patients with severe or chronic back pain. Like all prescription medications, tiagabine should be used only under the care of a physician and only as prescribed.