Anticonvulsant drugs ineffective for lower back pain and can cause harm

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anticonvulsant, back pain drug, back pain treatment, back arthritis, arthritis digest magazineAnticonvulsant drugs are increasingly used to treat lower back pain in some countries, but a new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has found they are ineffective and can have negative side effects, confirming the state of play in the UK.

Lower back pain affects millions of people around the world and is the number one cause of disability. Clinical practice guidelines usually recommend non-drug treatments and non-opioid painkillers rather than stronger pain relievers such as anticonvulsants.

Now new research based on evidence from nine trials found there is a lack of evidence of benefit from anticonvulsants and more adverse events from some of these drugs.

“We have shown, with mostly high- and moderate-quality evidence, that common anticonvulsants are ineffective for chronic low back pain and lumbar radicular pain, and are accompanied by increased risk of adverse events,” says Dr Oliver Enke and his co-authors.

These findings support recent guidelines from the UK and US that do not recommend the use of anticonvulsants.

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