Antidepressants: 1st Choice for Nerve Pain
Study Says Older Antidepressants Should Be Used to Treat Certain Types of Pain
Anticonvulsants May Also Help Nerve Pain
Researchers say the results of their review of anticonvulsants in treating neuropathic pain are both encouraging and conflicting.
Anticonvulsants were originally developed to treat epilepsy in the 1960s and have increasingly been used to treat pain. The drugs are thought to work by quieting abnormal firings of the nerves in the brain and central nervous system.
In their review, researchers analyzed 23 trials of anticonvulsant drugs involving more than 1,000 people.
They say the results of these studies are conflicting and suggest that each anticonvulsant drug needed to be evaluated independently to determine its effectiveness in treating neuropathic pain in comparison with other anticonvulsants and antidepressants.
For example, 15 studies of Neurontin showed that its effectiveness was comparable to another anticonvulsant, Tegretol, in relieving neuropathic pain. Neurontin has fewer side effects, but researchers say it is more expensive than other alternatives and cheaper treatments are also effective.
Therefore, researchers say anticonvulsants should be reserved as a second choice for treating pain caused by nerve tissue damage after first trying treatment with antidepressants.