Author(s): Backonja MM
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Abstract Emerging evidence from animal models of neuropathic pain suggests that many pathophysiologic and biochemical changes occur in the peripheral and central nervous system. Similarities between the pathophysiologic phenomena observed in some epilepsy models and in neuropathic pain models justify the use of anticonvulsants in the symptomatic management of neuropathic pain. Positive results from laboratory and clinical trials further support such use. Carbamazepine was the first of this class of drugs to be studied in clinical trials and has been longest in use for treatment of neuropathic pain. Clinical trial data support its use in treating trigeminal neuralgia, but data for treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy are less convincing. Use of newer anticonvulsants has marked a new era in the treatment of neuropathic pain. Gabapentin has demonstrated efficacy, specifically in painful diabetic neuropathy and postherpetic neuralgia. Lamotrigine has been reported to be effective in relieving pain from trigeminal neuralgia refractory to other treatments, HIV neuropathy, and central post-stroke pain. Results from clinical trials of phenytoin are equivocal. Zonisamide's mechanisms of action suggest that it would be effective in controlling neuropathic pain symptoms. Other anticonvulsants, including lorazepam, valproate, topiramate, and tiagabine, have also been under investigation. Anecdotal experience provides support for studies with oxcarbazepine and levetiracetam for treating neuropathic pain. Evidence supporting the efficacy of anticonvulsants in treatment of such pain is evolving. Additional clinical trials should provide information that will better define their role in neuropathic pain.
This article was published in Neurology
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Diabetes & Practice