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A drug regularly used to treat chronic pelvic pain in women is no more effective than a placebo, according to a new study.
As a result, researchers advise against routinely prescribing the drug gabapentin for women with the condition.
Chronic pelvic pain affects up to 24 percent of women worldwide to varying degrees. It is estimated that the disease affects up to a million in the UK.
No cause is known in 55 percent of women. If no underlying cause is found, the pain is much more difficult to treat.
Gabapentin is used to treat many forms of chronic pain. In two separate surveys, 74 percent of general practitioners and 92 percent of gynecologists said they would consider prescribing the drug for chronic pelvic pain.
Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Birmingham, Oxford and Nottingham tested the drug’s effectiveness in treating chronic pelvic pain through a randomized clinical trial of 306 women with the condition and no known underlying cause.
In the study, 153 women received gabapentin and 153 placebo for 16 weeks. Neither the group nor the prescribers knew what they were receiving.
The women were asked to rate their average and worst pain weekly on a scale of zero to ten. The scores were then averaged for the drug and placebo groups.
The team found that there was little difference in reported pain in either group.
However, the group that received gabapentin reported more side effects – including dizziness, sleepiness, and mood swings – than the placebo group.
The researchers say gabapentin should no longer be considered in the treatment of chronic pelvic pain for which a cause has not been established, and other treatment options should be explored, such as: B. various drugs, physiotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.
The research results were published in The Lancet. This work was funded by the Efficacy Assessment Program and Mechanism – a Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) partnership.
Professor Andrew Horne, senior researcher at the MRC Center for Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh, said: “We have been prescribing this drug for many years with little evidence of its effectiveness. As a result of our study, we can confidently conclude that gabapentin is not effective in chronic conditions Pelvic pain in women who have not been identified as having a cause. More research is needed to see if other therapies may help instead. “
Professor Andy Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics and Clinical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network in South London, said: “This important study was carried out in 39 locations in the UK on the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN). It is important that large studies like this be done will help answer these important health questions to guide management of these debilitating and common diseases. Another achievement for the CRN. ”
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