Article

Carbamazepine for acute and chronic pain

Pain Research Unit, Churchill Hospital, Old Road, Headington, Oxford, UK, OX3 7LJ.
Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (Impact Factor: 5.94). 02/2005; DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005451
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Anticonvulsant drugs have been used in the management of pain since the 1960s. The clinical impression is that they are useful for chronic neuropathic pain, especially when the pain is lancinating or burning.
To evaluate the analgesic effectiveness and adverse effects of the anticonvulsant medicine carbamazepine for pain management in clinical practice and to identify a clinical research agenda. Migraine and headache studies are not included in this review.
Randomised trials (RCTs) of anticonvulsants in acute, chronic or cancer pain were identified by MEDLINE (1966-2004), EMBASE (1994-2004), SIGLE (1980-2004) and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (CENTRAL/CCTR) (Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2003). In addition, 41 medical journals were hand searched for a previous version of this review. Additional reports were identified from the reference list of the retrieved papers, and by contacting investigators. Date of most recent search: November 2004.
Randomised trials reporting the analgesic effects of carbamazepine in patients, with subjective pain assessment as either the primary or a secondary outcome.
Data were extracted by two independent reviewers, and trials were quality scored. Numbers-needed-to-treat (NNTs) were calculated from dichotomous data for effectiveness, adverse effects and drug-related study withdrawal, for individual studies and for pooled data.
Twelve studies were included (404 participants). Four studies included trigeminal neuralgia patients. Two studies which provided evaluable data yielded an NNT for effectiveness of 1.8 (95%CI 1.4-2.8). For diabetic neuropathy there was insufficient data for an NNT to be calculated.Numbers-needed-to-harm (NNHs) were calculated where possible by combining studies for each drug entity irrespective of the condition treated. The results were, for minor harm, carbamazepine 3.7 (CI 2.4-7.8), NNHs for major harm were not statistically significant for carbamazepine compared with placebo. There is no evidence that carbamazepine is effective for acute pain.
There is evidence to show that carbamazepine is effective but trials are small.

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