Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mother was diagnosed with spinal stenosis just about the same time her sister got the same diagnosis. Mother was treated with a corset and antiinflammatory drugs. Her sister got a new drug called neurontin. Her sister got much better pain relief and was up and about faster, too. Is this a coincidence? Her sister is five years younger. Should we ask Mother's doctor for neurontin, too?

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal where the spinal cord and spinal nerves pass through the spine. Changes in the space (decreased space) can lead to back and leg pain. The pain is especially noticeable when standing and walking.

Treatment for this problem consists of antiinflammatory drugs, exercises, and sometimes, surgery. The use of gabapentin (also known as Neurontin) is being studied. The first study published was recently reported.

Patients all got the same treatment with a corset and exercises. One group also received the Neurontin. They found much greater and faster improvement in the Neurontin group. Pain relief was greater and they could walk faster and farther.

Neurontin is an anti-seizure drug that seems to work well for certain types of nerve pain. The use of a drug for a condition other than it was originally developed for is called off label use.

More studies are needed before Neurontin can be routinely recommended for patients with stenosis. But it can't hurt to tell your mother's doctor about her sister's success with it. Just keep in mind that every patient is different, has different body types and needs. What works for one patient doesn't always work for others. Your mother's sister may have other problems for which the Neurontin was prescribed.

Reference:

Ali Yaksi, MD, et al. The Efficiency of Gabapentin Therapy in Patients with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. In Spine. April 20, 2007. Vol. 32. No. 9. Pp. 939-942.'

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