HealthDay News — For patients with acute low back pain, the comparative effectiveness and safety of analgesic medications is unclear, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis published online March 22 in The BMJ.
Michael A. Wewege, from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and network meta-analysis to assess the comparative effectiveness and safety of analgesic medicines for acute nonspecific low back pain. Data were reviewed from 98 randomized controlled trials (15,134 participants), which included 69 medicines and combinations.
The researchers observed low or very low confidence in evidence for reduced pain intensity after treatment with tolperisone, aceclofenac plus tizanidine, pregabalin (mean differences, −26.1, −26.1, and −24.7, respectively), and 14 other medicines vs placebo. There was low or very low confidence seen for no difference between the effects of several of these medications. There was moderate to very low confidence noted for increased adverse events with tramadol, acetaminophen plus sustained-release tramadol, baclofen, and acetaminophen plus tramadol compared with placebo (risk ratio, 2.6, 2.4, 2.3, and 2.1, respectively). There was moderate-to-low confidence for these medicines increasing the risk for adverse events compared with other medicines. For secondary outcomes and a secondary analysis of medicine classes, moderate-to-low confidence was also noted.
“Despite nearly 60 years of research involving more than 15,000 patients, high quality evidence to guide clinical decisions on analgesic medicines for acute nonspecific low back pain remains limited,” the authors write.
The Sydney Pharmacy School receives funding from GlaxoSmithKline for a postgraduate scholarship supporting a research student supervised by one of the authors.