Prescription Drugs | 4 min read

What Are The Proper Gabapentin Doses for Pain Management?

Medically Reviewed

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

On September 4, 2023

Written By

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

On September 4, 2023

What Are The Proper Gabapentin Doses for Pain Management?

What you will learn

  • Gabapentin is a prescription medication used to treat seizures and specific types of pain.
  • As a Schedule V drug, it carries a lower risk of addiction, except when mixed with other drugs, like opioids.
  • Proper dosage of gabapentin ranges from 300 mg to 3,600 mg. Always take this medication as prescribed.
  • The doses needed for pain are often much lower than those for treating seizures.
  • Common side effects of gabapentin include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and confusion.
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Gabapentin Prescribed for Pain

Gabapentin is a potent anticonvulsant that has been around since the early 1990s. While it is mainly used to treat seizures, doctors often prescribe it to treat pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia as well as a few other types of pain.

But to properly treat these types of pain, you need to know how much you can take without falling victim to potentially dangerous side effects.

Gabapentin Doses [Chart]

Gabapentin is typically taken in the following doses:

Dosage Typical Dosing Instructions Prescribed For
300 mg One dose in the evening Mild pain
900 mg Split into three doses over the day Moderate pain
1,800 to 3,600 mg Split into three doses over the day Moderate to severe pain

How Does Gabapentin Work for Pain?

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant with the primary purpose of treating and preventing seizures. This medication can also treat postherpetic neuralgia, fibromyalgia, and other pain disorders.[1] Gabapentin works by targeting the central nervous system. Those who have chronic pain disorders often have hyperactive nervous systems.

A nervous system that is constantly overexcited can cause pain, seizures, and other unpleasant symptoms. By suppressing the nervous system with gabapentin, these issues will become less prominent, and some may even disappear while taking this medication.

Neuropathic pain manifests itself in the form of burning, stinging, tingling, and shooting pain. Several scientific randomized studies were done to see how effective gabapentin is at treating this type of discomfort. The studies showed that those with neuropathic pain, such as diabetic neuropathy or postherpetic neuralgia, had their pain significantly reduced compared to those who received a placebo.[2]

The trial also showed that the drug was good at relieving different types of pain. Burning and shooting pains are common in this category. There is also hyperesthesia, which is an increased sensitivity to physical touch. While it is not always painful, it often is. Gabapentin has also been shown to help with allodynia.

This is when you experience pain when you shouldn’t. For example, if someone lightly touches your hand, this should not hurt you, but if you have allodynia, this may cause a certain degree of pain. By reducing pain, people can live more fulfilling lives.

Why Doesn’t OTC Medication Work For Neuropathic Pain?

Neuropathic pain is a very common type of discomfort, but it is also one of the most stubborn.
Taking traditional OTC pain medications often doesn’t do anything for this type of pain. This is because the problem is with the nervous system rather than your muscles or any other part of the body. This goes against the method of action of most OTC pain medications, which are designed to mainly reduce pain in the muscles rather than treat the nervous system.

Why Is Proper Gabapentin Dosage Important?

Gabapentin doses for pain must be precise. The doses needed for treating pain are different from those needed for treating seizures, restless leg syndrome, anxiety, and other problems. The doses needed for pain are often much lower than those for treating seizures. The dosage may also differ according to the severity of your pain.

Those with milder pain obviously will not need to take as much medication as those with moderate to severe pain. Many things can go wrong if the dosage is too much or too little for treating a person’s condition. If not enough of the drug is provided, the person will not feel any relief. If too much is administered, this can lead to dangerous consequences.

The person may experience many side effects, or they may accidentally overdose. Several people have died from gabapentin overdoses in the past, specifically around 3,000 in 2020.[3] However, overdosing on gabapentin alone isn’t as common as overdosing on both gabapentin and opioids at the same time.

Some people like to mix these drugs for increased pain relief or to enjoy some type of euphoria. While gabapentin alone isn’t particularly addictive, it can become addictive when you mix it with high-risk drugs like opioids. If you mix gabapentin and opioids, respiratory depression can result. Your breathing will become very faint, and it is possible to stop breathing.

This can lead to brain damage and death. If you manage to avoid the risk of overdose when taking too much gabapentin on its own, you can still experience a variety of very unpleasant side effects.

The Side Effects of Gabapentin

Side effects can happen even if you take the proper dose of gabapentin. Some may not experience any side effects while taking this medication, while others may experience terrible effects.

Some of the most common side effects of gabapentin include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and confusion. Some may also experience dry mouth, dry eyes, itchiness, diarrhea, and fainting.

If you take more gabapentin than you should, you may experience more severe symptoms. These can include seizures, delusions, respiratory problems, swelling of the face and throat, coma, overdose, and death. Taking the proper dose of this medication will prevent you from experiencing these dangerous side effects.

However, you should still be aware of rare effects, such as allergic reactions. Always talk to your doctor about any new medication you start so that you have a clear understanding of the potential risks.

How Do People Take Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a pill that is meant to be taken whole–not chewed or crushed. This medication is designed to release small doses of the pill into your body over many hours. This ensures that the pill works throughout the day and that your body doesn’t suffer from the sudden release of a very large dose of gabapentin.

Taking the pill whole and following the recommended dosage is the safest way to consume it. However, some people have misused this drug in the past, usually by taking too many pills at once or mixing them with other medications. Some may try crushing the pills and then snorting the powder for a more instant effect.

Misusing gabapentin in any way can lead to dangerous and potentially fatal side effects. You should also be cautious about taking gabapentin (and any medication) for several years. This may lead to kidney and liver problems, especially when you consistently take high doses.

Take Gabapentin As Prescribed

The average dose of gabapentin is around 900 mg for treating pain. Some people may need as little as 300 mg, while others may need more than 3,000. Caution should always be exercised when taking large doses.

If you find that you are misusing gabapentin and can’t stop, help is available. Contact Ascendant NY today to get started.

Frequently Asked Questions About Gabapentin

How Addictive Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a Schedule V drug, meaning that it is not a controlled substance and is not very addictive. Despite this, people still get addicted to the substance, usually when they misuse it or mix it with other drugs, like opioids. But if you use the drug as prescribed, it is unlikely that you will become addicted.

Can Gabapentin be Fatal?

Several people have died from gabapentin overdoses in the last few years. While gabapentin can be fatal on its own, most people die when they mix this drug with opioids or other substances like alcohol. This can cause respiratory depression and death.

What Happens If You Take Too Much Gabapentin?

An overdose is more likely to happen when you take too much gabapentin. Some may do this to get more pain relief from the drug, and few realize that this could kill them or at least cause permanent damage to their brains and bodies.

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[1] Yasaei R, Katta S, Saadabadi A. Gabapentin. [Updated 2022 Dec 19]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Retrieved from on 2023, May 28.

[2] Backonja, M., & Glanzman, R. L. (2003). Gabapentin dosing for neuropathic pain: evidence from randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. Clinical therapeutics, 25(1), 81–104. Retrieved from on 2023, May 28.

[3] Bridget M. Kuehn, M. (2022, October 4). Growing role of gabapentin in opioid-related overdoses highlights misuse potential and off-label prescribing practices. JAMA. Retrieved from on 2023, May 28.