These drugs are as good as placebo for back pain

Lack of efficacy is accompanied by increased risk of adverse events

Anticonvulsants are ineffective for the treatment of low back pain or lumbar radicular pain, according to the most definitive findings to date.

A systematic review and meta-analysis shows that gabapentinoids (topiramate, gabapentin or pregabalin) are no more effective than placebo for chronic low back pain in the short term or for lumbar radicular pain in the immediate term.

This lack of efficacy is accompanied by increased risk of adverse events, according to the University of Sydney study.

The authors say their findings are significant given reports of increasing use of anticonvulsant medicines.

“Clinically, the prescription of anticonvulsants for back and neck pain, including radicular pain in primary care, has increased by 535% in the last 10 years,” they write in the Canadian Medical Journal.

“This trend may be due to prescribers seeking an alternative to opioids.”

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