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Lyrica Based Cogn. Impair. versus Prog. Dementia
Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2014 3:10 PM
Joined: 12/3/2014
Posts: 3

Lyrica Based Cognitive Impairment versus Progressive Dementia

Is there a test that can distinguish between drug induced cognitive impairment and progressive dementia. I am currently a 61 year male.

I have been tested numerous times by a neuropsychologist, been a long term patient of Neurologist A, and had a second opinion by Neurologist B.  All three are well respected in my community.

I first started noticing memory problems years ago (10+?).  Since then I have qualified for a private pension and SSDI based on a finding of dementia.

According to the neuropsychologist’s test, I suffer from “Amnestic disorder - severe, of unknown origin” and “Cognitive Disorder NOS.”  I have undergone 3+ evaluations and each evaluation is worse than the previous.

About 7  years ago, I stated suffering from nerve pain and Neurologist A prescribed Lyrica.  In approximately 20% of patients Lyrica can cause cognitive impairment. I was in the lucky 20% and suffered the cognitive impairment.  It is my opinion that I am suffering from a slow decline of ability.  Two years, I did volunteer taxes. This year, the course material to take the qualifying test overwhelmed me. Last year, I did some volunteer short story editing.  (I was a professional writer for 30+ years). Tried again this year, and could not even begin to do it.

Regardless of the symptoms, Neurologist A says I am suffering from Lyrica cognitive impairment.  

I then sought a second opinion. Neurologist B, took a detailed history and said without a doubt that I was suffering from Progressive Dementia. He based it on the fact that some of my early symptoms predate the Lyrica prescription plus, plus my feeling that the symptoms are slowly getting worse.

Hence my conundrum.  Lyrics based cognitive impairment versus progressive dementia. Does it really matter? Any suggestions on what else I should do.

As an aside, I am trying to run a simple test or weaning myself off of Lyrica.  The only problem is the lower the dosage the more nerve pain I will. And at times, it can be excruciating.



Iris L.
Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2014 3:51 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18368

Welcome to our online support group, StJoe.  Your story is similar to mine. I was a professional (physician) and I've been dealing with memory loss for over 27 years.  

The only official etiology I have been given is antiphospholipid syndrome, which causes micro-clots in the blood.  Only one doctor, my rheumatologist, said this. 

Over the years, I was told I had cognitive dysfunction from many causes, including depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, systemic lupus, hypothyroidism, and then antiphospholipid syndrome and lately sleep apnea.  All of these caused some memory and cognitive problems.  I seemed to plateau for a while, then have a downturn.  But when I had trouble with preparing my taxes in 2003, I could tell it was something significant.  But in 2007 I was worse.  My life seemed to come to a standstill.  I could barely function.  

Fortunately I found my current neurologist.  He prescribed Exelon patch  after a thorough evaluation.  Are you on any memory medications?  They do help many of us, but not all.

If your neurocognitive testing shows progression, then you have a progressive dementia.  If the cause of the progressive dementia is a medication, then the medication should be stopped.  This would be the case for any toxin that was thought to be the cause of a dementia, such as alcohol.  

Many commonly prescribed medications work opposite the memory medications, and thus make cognition and memory worse.

I was on neurontin for a while.  It made my vision so blurred I could not see to drive, so I stopped after a few weeks.  I too had severe pain.  I continue to have pain, but I am dealing with it.  I had to develop my own pain program, because the doctors had nothing to offer besides narcotics.  I use Celebrex and physical therapy exercises for the back.  

I also lost a lot of weight (40 lbs), which helped a lot.  If you are overweight, losing at least 10% of your weight can give you some relief.

All aspects of your medical history must be evaluated and treated as much as possible.  Medications that cause memory loss should be eliminated.  Also begin Best Practices and consider the memory medications.  Work with the best dementia specialist you can find, because you need to be sure.  

I consulted two more doctors at an Alzheimer's Disease Research Center before I was sure of my diagnosis, cognitive impairment not otherwise specified.  I'm satisfied with this diagnosis, since I am getting the pharmaceutical help I need.  The rest of our care we have to provide for ourselves with Best Practices and the other approaches that are discussed on this board.

Please draw on our fellow patients for support.  It's not an easy path and we need support that is often missing in the real world.  

Read about lyrica and develop a plan with your neurologist.

Keep reading and posting.

Iris L.