The drug pregabalin is used for several conditions associated with neuropathic pain, as well as epilepsy and anxiety disorders. According to statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, last year over three million patients were prescribed the drug.
Recent research into the drug has revealed that it has no effect on pain relief for those with chronic back pain exacerbated by standing or walking. In particular, the study found the drug to be ineffective for those with lumbar spinal stenosis, which is the most common cause of lower back pain in older adults.
As this specific type of pain is present when a person is upright or walking, the researchers asked participants to rate their pain level while walking on a treadmill. The results showed that there was no significant difference in the pain experienced by those taking the medication and those taking placebos.
MD, director of the Translational Pain Research Programme and Rochester University’s Department of Neurosurgery in New York and Lead author of the study, John Markman commented the following,
“Chronic low back pain is one of the most common reasons older adults go to the doctor and lumbar stenosis is the leading indication for surgery in this age group.
“…given the cost and potential side effects associated with pregablin, it is critical that we understand the efficacy of this drug.”
Dr Marman added that the pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis is usually lessened by bending forward at the waist, which is why many older adults hunch over their walking aids. Some patients undergo surgery to give the nerve roots more room, however pain typically returns after a decade.
If you are concerned about the medication you have been prescribed, please discuss your options with a doctor.