Failed Drug Trials      

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs for Acute Low Back Pain
Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2020 (Apr 16); 4 (4): CD013581 ~ FULL TEXT

NSAIDs seemed slightly more effective than placebo for short-term pain reduction (moderate certainty), disability (high certainty), and global improvement (low certainty), but the magnitude of the effects is small and probably not clinically relevant. There was no clear difference in short-term pain reduction (low certainty) when comparing selective COX-2 inhibitors to non-selective NSAIDs. We found very low evidence of no clear difference in the proportion of participants experiencing adverse events in both the comparison of NSAIDs versus placebo and selective COX-2 inhibitors versus non-selective NSAIDs. We were unable to draw conclusions about adverse events and the safety of NSAIDs for longer-term use, since we only included RCTs with a primary focus on short-term use of NSAIDs and a short follow-up. These are not optimal for answering questions about longer-term or rare adverse events.

Inappropriate Use of Skeletal Muscle Relaxants in Geriatric Patients
U. S. Pharmacist 2020 (Jan 21); 45 (1): 25–29 ~ FULL TEXT

Skeletal muscle relaxants are a sedating class of medications used to treat spasticity and pain. Their sedative properties can pose a risk for geriatric patients who are predisposed to falls. It is important for the pharmacist to assess the patient before dispensing medications. Short-term use of skeletal muscle relaxants may be appropriate for certain conditions but should not be used long-term, regardless of interaction. Alternative pharmacologic options exist, but most have drawbacks. Nonpharmacologic therapy may be a better option in both the short term and the long term. Nonpharmacologic education on fall prevention is essential in patients being given skeletal muscle relaxants, regardless of duration of therapy. Not only will appropriate use of skeletal muscle relaxants improve patient outcomes, it can also improve star ratings for both insurance providers and pharmacies.

Paracetamol Is Ineffective for Acute Low Back Pain
Even for Patients Who Comply with Treatment:
Complier Average Causal Effect Analysis
of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Pain 2019 (Dec); 160 (12): 2848–2854 ~ FULL TEXT

In conclusion, paracetamol is not more effective than placebo for acute LBP in compliers of the treatment regimen. Complier average causal effect analyses using different cut points showed that paracetamol had no effect on pain intensity and secondary outcomes when compared with placebo for participants that complied to regular paracetamol in the PACE trial. These results support the original findings of the PACE trial.

Gabapentin and Pregabalin Not Effective for Low Back Pain
with or without Radiculopathy

American Family Physician 2019 (Mar 15); 99 (6): Online~ FULL TEXT

Particularly in this era of heightened awareness of the potential harms of opioids, anticonvulsants are often prescribed for the treatment of painful conditions. Although there is evidence of their effectiveness, primarily for peripheral and diabetic neuropathy, anticonvulsants are increasingly prescribed for other conditions, including low back pain. This systematic review included a comprehensive search of the literature, and the authors identified nine randomized trials (three of which were crossover studies) that compared topiramate (Topamax), pregabalin (Lyrica), or gabapentin with placebo in patients with low back pain with or without radiculopathy.

Opioid Use Among Low Back Pain Patients in Primary Care:
Is Opioid Prescription Associated with Disability
at 6-month Follow-up?

Pain 2013 (Jul); 154 (7): 1038–1044 ~ FULL TEXT

Our findings indicate that even after adjusting for a substantial number of potential confounders, opioids were associated with slightly worse functioning in back pain patients at 6-month follow-up. Further research may help us to understand the mechanisms underlying these findings and inform clinical decisions regarding the usefulness of opioids for back pain.

Spinal High-velocity Low Amplitude Manipulation in Acute Nonspecific
Low Back Pain: A Double- blinded Randomized Controlled Trial
in Comparison With Diclofenac and Placebo

Spine 2013 (Apr 1); 38 (7): 540–548

A total of 101 patients with acute LBP (for <48 hr) were recruited from 5 outpatient practices, exclusion criteria were numerous and strict. Outcomes registered by a second and blinded investigator included self-rated physical disability, function (SF–12), off-work time, and rescue medication between baseline and 12 weeks after randomization. In a subgroup of patients with acute nonspecific LBP, spinal manipulation was significantly better than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac and clinically superior to placebo.

A Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing Chiropractic Adjustments to
Muscle Relaxants for Subacute Low Back Pain

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2004 (Jul); 27 (6): 388–398 ~ FULL TEXT

Chiropractic was more beneficial than placebo in reducing pain and more beneficial than either placebo or muscle relaxants in reducing Global Impression of Severity Scale (GIS).

The Use of Muscle Relaxant Medications in Acute Low Back Pain
Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2004 (Jun 15); 29 (12): 1346–1351 ~ FULL TEXT

Muscle relaxants were used by 49% of patients; among those who sought care from doctors, 64% used muscle relaxants. Muscle relaxant users were more impaired at baseline. Over time, among patients with greater functional status impairment (Roland disability score > 12) at baseline, muscle relaxant users had somewhat slower recovery from the episode of back pain. This finding persisted after controlling for baseline functional status, age, worker's compensation status, and use of nonsteroidal inflammatory agents.


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