Back Pain? Sciatica? Skip the Anticonvulsants

iStock

The use of anticonvulsant drugs like gabapentin, topiramate, and pregabalin to treat chronic low back has significantly increased in recent years – as much as 535 percent – even though there’s limited research supporting this practice. In a comprehensive review published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), researchers found that these drugs are not only ineffective, but also may have adverse effects when used to treat back pain.

The research was conducted at University of Sydney Nepean Clinical School in Australia, and involved nine clinical trials and 859 study participants treated with anticonvulsants for an average of about seven weeks. Four of the trials included participants with chronic low back pain with or without radiating leg pain, and five included participants with lumbar radicular pain (pain that radiates from the back to the leg) – sciatica, for example.

Overall, the researchers reported little to no improvement in pain or disability, short-term or over time. Adverse effects, primarily related to gabapentin, included drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea. Guidelines issued recently in the United States and the United Kingdom do not recommend using anticonvulsants for low back pain.

Sourced from: CMAJ