[Whether or not to use gabapentinoids in adults with chronic neuropathic pain]

Eveline P van Poelgeest, Lina El Houssein, JanWillem Kallewaard, Markus W Hollmann, Monique A H Steegers, Hans C H Wartenberg
Nederlands Tijdschrift Voor Geneeskunde 2020 August 27, 164

CASE DESCRIPTION: A frail 85-year-old woman with chronic neuropathic pain after hip surgery, not responding to treatment with acetaminophen and morphine patches. Should she be prescribed a gabapentinoid?

DISCUSSION: Gabapentinoids and antidepressants are considered first-line therapies. They achieve clinically relevant (i.e. ≥ 50%) pain reduction in approximately one-third of patients with postherpetic neuralgia and peripheral diabetic neuropathy. Evidence for other types of neuropathic pain is limited. Adverse events occur frequently and are mostly mild in nature; serious adverse effects are rare. Prescription of gabapentinoids in specific patient groups (e.g. elderly patients and patients with a history of depression or substance abuse) deserves careful consideration, because the risk/benefit ratio in those groups may be altered. In order to reduce the risk of withdrawal symptoms, slow tapering is recommended.

CONCLUSION: Chronic neuropathic pain often has a negative impact on the quality of life and is difficult to treat. In general, treatment with a gabapentinoid is a possible first-line treatment option. However, they may be relatively contraindicated in vulnerable patients.

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