Author(s): Curatolo M, Bogduk N
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: The authors aimed to provide an educational update on the current evidence of the effectiveness of drug therapy in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain and to offer a perspective of possible future developments. DESIGN: The authors used a pragmatic review of data provided by available systematic reviews and seminal controlled studies pertaining to the treatment of regional musculoskeletal pain problems. RESULTS: Epidural steroids may offer limited, short-term benefit for sciatica. Local injections of steroids are either ineffective or provide short-lasting benefits. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids reduce pain, but the effect size is modest. The literature does not support convincingly the use of antidepressants. Certain muscle relaxants may be useful in the treatment of back pain. Hyaluronic acid, neutraceutical agents, avocado-soybean unsaponifiable agents, oxaceprol and diacerein may be effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis, but the information regarding these new agents does not allow wholesale endorsement of these substances. Selective epidural injection of steroids at a target nerve root approached through the intervertebral foramin has the potential to replace the traditional epidural approach. Long-acting, C--fiber-specific local anesthetics are under investigation and could provide long-lasting pain relief without motor or sensory impairment. In the future, central hypersensitivity in chronic musculoskeletal pain might be treated using antagonists of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor. Cannabinoid agents produce antinociception and prevent experimentally induced hyperalgesia in animals, and they may find a role in pain management. Methods to optimize drug combinations are available. CONCLUSIONS: The effectiveness of the currently available drugs in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain conditions is disappointing. Recent developments may open new perspectives in this area of pain medicine.
This article was published in Clin J Pain
and referenced in Primary Healthcare: Open Access