Epilepsy Drug Treats Pain Disorder

Susan Farley
Published Online: Friday, July 1, 2005
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A small-scale study of the epilepsy drug tiagabine (Gabitril) shows promise in the treatment of complex regional pain syndrome, according to an article in a recent issue of the American Journal of Pain Management. This particular disorder refers to the diffuse pain in the arms and legs following a localized injury. After animal studies suggested that tiagabine might treat pain caused by nerve damage, researchers began a study of 20 patients with complex regional pain syndrome, also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Patients received either 2 or 4 mg per day of tiagabine, increasing to doses up to 12 mg. These patients had not previously taken epilepsy drugs or had not experienced effective relief of their symptoms. After taking the drug for 24 weeks, 16 of the 20 patients reported excellent or good reduction of symptoms, while the remaining 4 reported little improvement (less than 20% reduction of symptoms). The study authors agree that further placebo-controlled trials are necessary to better assess the efficacy of tiagabine.

Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.

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