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J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother. 2009;23(3):242-60. doi: 10.1080/15360280903098523.

The challenge of pain management in patients with myasthenia gravis.

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Pain Relief Unit, Department of Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, Israel.


Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disorder of the neuromuscular junction. The complexity of the disease and its treatments make MG patients particularly susceptible to adverse effects of drugs. MG is not a painful condition; however, as pain management armamentarium includes drugs from diverse pharmacological groups and with potential for drug-drug interactions, managing pain in patients with MG can be challenging. The underlying disease and the concomitant medications of each patient must be considered and the analgesic treatment individualized. This review presents an update on the various aspects of pain pharmacotherapy in patients with MG, focusing primarily on medications used to treat chronic pain. Drugs discussed are opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants, benzodiazepines, intravenous magnesium, and local anesthetics. Drug interactions with agents used for MG treatment (acethylcholinesterase inhibitors, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants) and plasmapheresis are discussed. The clinical usefulness and limitations of each of the drug classes and agents are described.

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