In the UK, amitriptyline is licenced for neuropathic pain, the prevention of migraines, and the prevention of chronic tension-type headaches. Amitriptyline’s many uses means that it’s a drug used by several groups of people to help to improve their symptoms. Amitriptyline is also licensed to treat major depressive order in adults, but it isn’t recommended for this, and certainly isn’t routinely prescribed until many other treatments have been exhausted without success.
Amitriptyline can also be used off-label to treat adults with abdominal pain/discomfort that haven’t responded to laxatives, loperamide or antispasmodics. Off-label means that although the medicine isn’t licenced for the treatment of that particular condition, it can be prescribed for it if your doctor thinks it’s suitable. To find out more about medications being used off label, please see these government guidelines.
Amitriptyline for pain
Amitriptyline’s most common use is for neuropathic pain. This type of pain is caused by damage or injury to the nerves, and can range from stabbing and shooting to burning and pricking, though the sensations can differ from person to person.
Amitriptyline for pain often works better than analgesics, opiates, and NSAIDs, due to the fact that the drug is generally prescribed to nerve pain that doesn’t respond to traditional methods. Amitriptyline works within the central nervous system, making it a popular and effective treatment for patients struggling with neuropathy.
How does amitriptyline work
Amitriptyline for pain relief works within the central nervous system, encompassing the brain and spinal cord. As it’s a tricyclic antidepressant, it increases the amount of certain neurotransmitters – serotonin and noradrenaline.
These two neurotransmitters act as messengers between the brain and the nerves, and are linked with mood, appetite, sleep and wake cycles, and pain relief.
By increasing the amount of these neurotransmitters, amitriptyline relieves nerve pain by reducing the amount of pain signals sent to the brain. It also helps your muscles to relax, relieving you of any unnecessary tension that might be making your condition even worse. You can still use other medicines such as NSAIDs and analgesics alongside amitriptyline for pain management.
How long does amitriptyline take to work
Most painkillers work within around half an hour of you taking them. Unfortunately, amitriptyline isn’t fast-acting, and you’ll need a little patience to feel the benefits of the drug.
When taken regularly as directed, you should start to feel better within around 6 weeks of treatment. Whilst amitriptyline might not get rid of all of your pain, it can make it more bearable and allow you to manage daily activities. We understand that 6 weeks can be a long time to wait when you’re experiencing nerve pain, but luckily, amitriptyline won’t interact with medicines such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, naproxen and codine, meaning that your doctor can still prescribe more traditional pain relief to tide you over until the amitriptyline begins to work.
Amitriptyline for sleep
Amitriptyline isn’t licensed to treat any sleep disorders. However, it has been known to cause drowsiness and improve the sleep quality for nerve pain patients, though this may be partly to do with reduced pain levels.
If you’re looking for amitriptyline to treat a sleep disorder you may have, please take a look at our insomnia page for more information about the condition, and what alternative treatments are available. Your own doctor may be able to prescribe amitriptyline for sleep as an off-label use, but you’ll usually have to exhaust all other avenues of treatment, including zolpidem and circadin.
Is amitriptyline safe
Amitriptyline is a prescription drug, meaning that it carries risks. However, given that it’s recommended as a first line treatment for people with nerve pain, it’s generally a fairly safe drug to take as long as you stick to the recommended dosage.
As with any medicines, there are certain groups of people that aren’t able to take amitriptyline, and should see their GP for advice on alternative treatments. If you have any of the problems or conditions listed below, you shouldn’t buy amitriptyline, and should make an appointment with your doctor instead:
- Allergic to amitriptyline or any of the ingredients
- Recent heart attack
- Any heart problems at all
- Taking MAOIs
- Taken moclobemide in the last 24-48 hours
- Liver disease
Due to the way amitriptyline works in the body, there are also several medicines that can interact with it, meaning that it could cause dangerous interactions. If you’re taking any of the medicines listed on the table below, please make an appointment with your doctor to discuss whether amitriptyline is safe for you to take.
St John’s Wort
If nothing above applies to you, amitriptyline should be safe for you to take for the relief of nerve pain.
Amitriptyline side effects
Amitriptyline can cause some unpleasant side effects, but many people find that the benefits of the drug outweigh the symptoms that it might cause. Some people don’t experience any side effects at all, whilst others may feel mild discomfort in relation to amitriptyline. However, if you feel as though you aren’t coping with the side effects or that you can’t tolerate the drug, please see your GP to explore alternative treatment options. The side effects listed below aren’t exhaustive, so please make yourself familiar with the patient information leaflet (PIL) so you’re aware of what may happen before you buy amitriptyline.
Low blood sodium
Risk of bone fractures
Amitriptyline weight gain
Weight gain is listed as a common side effect on the patient information leaflet for amitriptyline. This means that during clinical trials, more than 1 in 10 people experienced weight gain whilst taking amitriptyline.
If you’re worried about putting on weight whilst taking amitriptyline for pain, you should make an appointment with your doctor or dietician to discuss what you can be doing to stay at a healthy weight.
If you’re reading this because you’ve already gained weight with amitriptyline, there are things you can do to help yourself lose weight, such as eating a balanced diet and making sure you get enough exercise. However, if you’ve already tried this without success, and have a BMI of over 28, there may be some weight loss medications that could help you, make an appointment with your doctor to find out more.
Amitriptyline generally comes in three doses:
- Amitriptyline 10mg
- Amitriptyline 25mg
- Amitriptyline 50mg
Most doctors will recommend taking the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time possible, so it’s likely that you’ll be started on amitriptyline 10mg, once daily. This dose can be increased after some time if you feel that it isn’t helping you, and for nerve pain, your doctor can increase it up to a maximum of 75mg daily.
Amitriptyline should be taken in the evening due to the fact it can make you drowsy. However, some people take the drug twice a day. If you find that an evening dose doesn’t suit you, you can ask your local pharmacist if you can change the time of day that you take amitriptyline.
If you’re wanting to buy amitriptyline, there are several options available to you. You can get it on the NHS from your regular GP, or you can find it online from reputable prescribers such as Doctor4U. Deciding to buy amitriptyline from the internet can be scary if it’s your first time ordering medicine online, but with Doctor4U you can be assured that you’re in safe hands.
When you buy amitriptyline, or any other medicine from us, you have to complete a consultation regarding your condition before choosing your treatment. One of our doctors will review your answers and decide whether your chosen medicine is suitable for you based on your consultation. If it is, they’ll generate an electronic prescription and your order will be sent to you via your chosen delivery method.
If you decide to buy amitriptyline from an online prescriber, you should always look for a clickable logo that says “click to verify if this website is operating legally”. Ours can be found in the footer of our website on every page, and it should take you to our registration page in the MHRA database (the government regulators for medicines and healthcare products).