Author(s): Gaskell H, Derry S, Moore RA, Gaskell H, Derry S, Moore RA
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Abstract There is little evidence specifically relating to drug treatments for pain in older people, but much can be extrapolated from what we already know. The evidence about drug treatments for chronic non-cancer pain is changing, driven by major improvements in understanding of clinical trial analysis and by the adoption of patient-centered outcomes of proven economic benefit. There is clear evidence of lack of useful effect, or insufficient evidence of effect for a number of commonly used drugs, including paracetamol, topical rubefacients, low concentration topical capsaicin, and for strong opioids in chronic non-cancer pain. In musculoskeletal pain there is evidence of efficacy for NSAIDs, tramadol, and tapentadol, and in neuropathic pain for duloxetine, pregabalin, and gabapentin, with weak evidence for amitriptyline. The new perspective is of drugs that work well in a minority of patients, but hardly at all in the remainder. The goal of treatment is large reductions in pain, by 50\% or more. This outcome, and only this outcome, is associated with large benefits in terms of improved sleep, reduced depression, and large gains in function and quality of life. It is not possible to predict which patient will benefit from which drug, but early success or failure appears to be predictive of long-term success or failure. The emphasis is on stopping treatments that do not work and switching to other drugs in the same or different class, so that any potential future risk of treatment is balanced by very large and immediate benefit. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Maturitas
and referenced in Journal of Aging Science