Mild Back Pain: Intermittent Treatment of Intermittent Pain

By | August 26, 2011

Gabapentin is effective in the treatment of back pain, but its side effects did not fit into Susan's busy life.

After we had ruled out the use of antidepressants, I told Susan that since her pain is intermittent that I could give her some Neurontin for when the pain was intense. Treating acute flair ups of chronic pain with gabapentin in this way is not the standard use of the drug, but it is one that I have found to be quite effective in many circumstances. It produces its most prominent side effects of sedation and ataxia at a time when the pain would normally limit activity anyway. However, when I told her that the medicine might promote weight gain, she told me that she was not interested in it.

I agreed that Neurontin was not a perfect choice of treatments, but not simply because to the potential for weight gain. Firstly, Susan was very thin and the weight gain tends to be more of a problem with preexisting weight problems. More importantly, since her pain tended to be worse in the morning and improved with activity the side effect profile of Neurontin would be temporally out of sync with her pain.

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