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Spinal cord injury patients may benefit from new treatment

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Clinical trial shows that pregabalin reduces the pain of spinal cord injury and may eliminate it altogether.

Spinal cord injury is often associated with pain and this generally responds poorly to currently available treatments. Researchers at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, Australia, now report upon a trial of the drug pregabalin in spinal cord injury pain. Pregabalin is generally used to teat diabetic nerve pain and pain after shingles.

A group of 137 spinal cord injury patients with nerve pain were given either pregabalin or placebo for a 12 week period. After this time, fewer than 16 per cent of those in the pregabalin group had severe pain, compared to 43 per cent in the placebo group. One third of the patients in the pregabalin group reported mild or even no pain. Pregabalin also reduced sleep and anxiety problems. Fifty seven per cent in the pregabalin group felt better overall compared to 21 per cent in the placebo group. Pain relief was rapid, beginning after the first week of the study. The findings offer new hope to those suffering from pain associated with spinal cord injury.

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD
Neurology 28th November 2006

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