Abstract: Current trends in neuropathic pain treatments with special reference to fibromyalgia

CNS Spectr. 2005 Apr;10(4):285-97.

Offenbaecher M, Ackenheil M.

Department of Medical Psychology, University of Munich Medical School, Goethestrasse 31, 80336 Munchen, Germany. Martin.Offenbaecher@med.uni-muenchen.de

Neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia are prevalent diseases which have major consequences on healthcare resources and the individual. From the clinical point of view neuropathic pains represent a heterogeneous group of aetiologically different diseases ranging from cancer to diabetes. Patients with fibromyalgia also display clinical features common in neuropathic pain suggesting that there might be some overlap. The mechanisms responsible for symptoms and signs in both diseases are still unknown.

Recently, there have been numerous reports of various pharmacological treatments of neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia with often disappointing results. Most of the studies were of short duration, had high attrition rates, and displayed other methodological problems. Some compounds had high rates of adverse effects which makes it often difficult for the patients to tolerate the treatment, especially in the long-term. At present, the best options for medication treatment are tricyclic antidepressants in lower dosage than usual in psychiatric disorders and a wide range of anticonvulsants. Opioids are sometimes recommended but have been found to have minor efficacy.

Recently, there have been more controlled trials, which are reported here if they had been published between 2002 and 2004. Various compounds have been tested in different studies. Treatment of fibromyalgia, which has many features in common with depressive symptoms, became the focus of interest. New promising studies with dual serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (duloxetine and milnacipram) and a newer antiepileptic drug (pregabalin) are in progress.

Future research will have to apply new approaches (e.g., using a mechanism-based classification of neuropathic pain and carrying out studies in populations with the same symptom but not necessarily the same disease) in order to find effective treatments for these common and often debilitating diseases.

PMID: 15902759 [PubMed – in process]

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