Therapeutic benefits of gabapentin in some patients with neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia
The study entitled “Gabapentin for chronic neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia in adults” was published in The Cochrane Library by researchers at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, and the Technische Universität München in Germany.
Chronic neuropathic pain is a complex state of pain where the nerve fibers have become damaged or dysfunctional. Painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen are not effective for neuropathic pain but antiepileptic drugs are mostly used in managing chronic neuropathic pain and also fibromyalgia. It is a medical disorder characterized by widespread chronic musculoskeletal pain, debilitating fatigue, stiffness and numbness in certain parts of the body, painful response to pressure, headaches, poor sleep quality, anxiety or depression and mood alterations. Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects capability to perform simple daily tasks, compromising quality of life.
Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant and analgesic drug used to relieve neuropathic pain. The authors evaluate the gabapentin analgesic efficacy and adverse effects in patients of chronic neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia. The team conducted a retrospective analysis of literature on the subject and selected for further assessment randomized, double-blind studies on adult participants with neuropathic pain or fibromyalgia under gabapentin treatment.
Researchers found that gabapentin therapy (doses of 1200 mg or more) was effective as a pain reliever in some patients with chronic neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, post-herpetic neuralgia and painful diabetic neuropathy. There was insufficient data to draw any conclusions for other pain conditions. More adverse events were reported in patients under gabapentin treatment in comparison to placebo groups, including dizziness (19%), somnolence (14%), gait disturbance (9%) and peripheral edema (7%). Regarding serious adverse events, a similar proportion (3%) was found in both gabapentin and placebo groups.
Researchers concluded that gabapentin can be a helpful therapeutic agent for some patients struggling with neuropathic pain or fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, at this point, it is not possible to predict who might benefit from such therapy beforehand. The team suggests that further studies should be conducted on the subject.