Shingles Drug Reduces Spinal Cord Injury Pain

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- The drug pregabalin may help ease the pain of patients afflicted with spinal cord injury , Australian researchers report.

Currently, pregabalin is used to treat two common types of nerve pain -- diabetic nerve pain and pain after shingles .

The 12-week study, reported in the Nov. 28 Neurology, included 137 adult spinal cord injury patients with nerve pain. Half of them received pregabalin, and the other half received a placebo.

At the end of the study, fewer than 16 percent of the patients taking pregabalin reported severe pain, compared to 43 percent of the patients taking the placebo.

Patients taking the drug also had fewer sleep and anxiety problems than those taking the placebo. More than half (57 percent) of patients taking the drug said they felt better overall, compared to just 21 percent of those in the placebo group.

This study received funding from Pfizer Inc., which makes pregabalin.

"The findings are promising, as spinal cord injury pain is a condition which generally responds poorly to currently available treatments," study author Philip J. Siddall, of the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, said in a prepared statement.

About 40 percent of spinal cord injury patients suffer nerve pain. There are about 450,000 people in the United States with spinal cord injuries, and about 11,000 people suffer a spinal cord injury each year, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Association.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Neurology, news release, Nov. 29, 2006

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