The study entitled “Gabapentin for chronic neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia in adults” represents an updated review on the work developed regarding the effects of gabapentin in pain conditions. The study 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 corresponds to a complex state of pain where the nerve fibers have become damaged or dysfunctional. Neuropathic pain is not responsive to normal pain medicines, like paracetamol or ibuprofen. Antiepileptic drugs are in fact often used in the management of chronic neuropathic pain and also fibromyalgia, a medical disorder characterized by widespread chronic musculoskeletal pain, incapacitating fatigue, stiffness and numbness in certain parts of the body, painful response to pressure, headaches, unrefreshing sleep (poor sleep quality), anxiety or depression and mood alterations. Fibromyalgia is a condition that can affect people’s ability to conduct simple daily tasks, compromising their quality of life.
Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant and analgesic drug used to relieve neuropathic pain. In the study, the authors assessed the analgesic efficacy and adverse effects associated with gabapentin use in patients with 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. Special attention was given to the drug’s analgesic effects as well as adverse events; pain intensity and/or relief were assessed.
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 (chronic pain following shingles) and painful diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage linked to diabetes). Concerning other pain conditions there was insufficient data to draw any conclusions.
In terms of safety, 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.
The research team 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.