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Eura Medicophys. 2006 Mar;42(1):5-15.

Pharmacological interventions for spasticity following spinal cord injury: results of a Cochrane systematic review.

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Functional Recovery and Rehabilitation Unit, G. Salvini Hospital, Passirana di Rho, Milan, Italy.


The aim of this paper was to assess the effectiveness and safety of baclofen, dantrolene, tizanidine and any other drugs for the treatment of long-term spasticity in spinal cord injury (SCI) patients, as well as the effectiveness and safety of different routes of administration of baclofen. A systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs), within the Cochrane Collaboration Injuries Group, was carried out. The Cochrane Injuries Group Specialised Register, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL were searched up to July 2006 without language restriction. Drug companies and experts active in the area were also contacted to find other relevant studies. Two investigators independently identified relevant studies, extracted data and assessed methodological quality of studies resolving disagreement by consensus. Nine out of 55 studies met the inclusion criteria. The heterogeneity among studies did not allow quantitative combination of


Study designs were: 8 crossover, 1 parallel-group trial. Two studies (14 SCI patients) showed a significant effect of intrathecal baclofen in reducing spasticity (Ashworth score and activities of daily living [ADL] performances), compared to placebo, without any adverse effect. The study comparing tizanidine to placebo (118 SCI patients) showed a significant effect of tizanidine in improving Ashworth score but not in ADL performances. The tizanidine group reported significant rates of adverse effects (drowsiness, xerostomia). For the other drugs (gabapentine, clonidine, diazepam, amytal and oral baclofen) the results do not provide evidence for a clinical significant effectiveness. This systematic review indicates that there is insufficient evidence to assist clinicians in a rational approach to antispastic treatment for SCI. Further research is urgently needed to improve the scientific basis of patient care.

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