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1.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jul 6;(7):CD008242. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008242.pub3.

Amitriptyline for neuropathic pain in adults.

Author information

1
Pain Research and Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences (Nuffield Division of Anaesthetics), University of Oxford, Pain Research Unit, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK, OX3 7LE.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

This is an updated version of the original Cochrane review published in Issue 12, 2012. That review considered both fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain, but the effects of amitriptyline for fibromyalgia are now dealt with in a separate review.Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant that is widely used to treat chronic neuropathic pain (pain due to nerve damage). It is recommended as a first line treatment in many guidelines. Neuropathic pain can be treated with antidepressant drugs in doses below those at which the drugs act as antidepressants.

OBJECTIVES:

To assess the analgesic efficacy of amitriptyline for relief of chronic neuropathic pain, and the adverse events associated with its use in clinical trials.

SEARCH METHODS:

We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, and EMBASE to March 2015, together with two clinical trial registries, and the reference lists of retrieved papers, previous systematic reviews, and other reviews; we also used our own hand searched database for older studies.

SELECTION CRITERIA:

We included randomised, double-blind studies of at least four weeks' duration comparing amitriptyline with placebo or another active treatment in chronic neuropathic pain conditions.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:

We performed analysis using three tiers of evidence. First tier evidence derived from data meeting current best standards and subject to minimal risk of bias (outcome equivalent to substantial pain intensity reduction, intention-to-treat analysis without imputation for dropouts; at least 200 participants in the comparison, 8 to 12 weeks' duration, parallel design), second tier from data that failed to meet one or more of these criteria and were considered at some risk of bias but with adequate numbers in the comparison, and third tier from data involving small numbers of participants that were considered very likely to be biased or used outcomes of limited clinical utility, or both.

MAIN RESULTS:

We included 15 studies from the earlier review and two new studies (17 studies, 1342 participants) in seven neuropathic pain conditions. Eight cross-over studies with 302 participants had a median of 36 participants, and nine parallel group studies with 1040 participants had a median of 84 participants. Study quality was modest, though most studies were at high risk of bias due to small size.There was no first-tier or second-tier evidence for amitriptyline in treating any neuropathic pain condition. Only third-tier evidence was available. For only two of seven studies reporting useful efficacy data was amitriptyline significantly better than placebo (very low quality evidence).More participants experienced at least one adverse event; 55% of participants taking amitriptyline and 36% taking placebo. The risk ratio (RR) was 1.5 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3 to 1.8) and the number needed to treat for an additional harmful outcome was 5.2 (3.6 to 9.1) (low quality evidence). Serious adverse events were rare. Adverse event and all-cause withdrawals were not different, but were rarely reported (very low quality evidence).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS:

Amitriptyline has been a first-line treatment for neuropathic pain for many years. The fact that there is no supportive unbiased evidence for a beneficial effect is disappointing, but has to be balanced against decades of successful treatment in many people with neuropathic pain. There is no good evidence of a lack of effect; rather our concern should be of overestimation of treatment effect. Amitriptyline should continue to be used as part of the treatment of neuropathic pain, but only a minority of people will achieve satisfactory pain relief. Limited information suggests that failure with one antidepressant does not mean failure with all.

Update of

PMID:
26146793
PMCID:
PMC6447238
DOI:
10.1002/14651858.CD008242.pub3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
2.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Dec 12;12:CD008242. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008242.pub2.

Amitriptyline for neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia in adults.

Author information

1
Pain Research and Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. andrew.moore@ndcn.ox.ac.uk.

Update in

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant that is widely used to treat chronic neuropathic pain (pain due to nerve damage) and fibromyalgia, and is recommended in many guidelines. These types of pain can be treated with antidepressant drugs in doses below those at which the drugs act as antidepressants.

OBJECTIVES:

To assess the analgesic efficacy of amitriptyline for chronic neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia.To assess the adverse events associated with the clinical use of amitriptyline for chronic neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia.

SEARCH METHODS:

We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, and EMBASE to September 2012, together with reference lists of retrieved papers, previous systematic reviews, and other reviews; we also used our own handsearched database for older studies.

SELECTION CRITERIA:

We included randomised, double-blind studies of at least four weeks' duration comparing amitriptyline with placebo or another active treatment in chronic neuropathic pain or fibromyalgia.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:

We extracted efficacy and adverse event data, and two study authors examined issues of study quality independently. We performed analysis using two tiers of evidence. The first tier used data meeting current best standards, where studies reported the outcome of at least 50% pain intensity reduction over baseline (or its equivalent), without the use of last observation carried forward (LOCF) or other imputation method for dropouts, reported an intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis, lasted 8 to 12 weeks or longer, had a parallel-group design, and where there were at least 200 participants in the comparison. The second tier used data that failed to meet this standard and were therefore subject to potential bias.

MAIN RESULTS:

Twenty-one studies (1437 participants) were included; they individually involved between 15 and 235 participants, only four involved over 100 participants, and the median study size was 44 participants. The median duration was six weeks. Ten studies had a cross-over design. Doses of amitriptyline were generally between 25 mg and 125 mg, and dose escalation was common.There was no top-tier evidence for amitriptyline in treating neuropathic pain or fibromyalgia.Second-tier evidence indicated no evidence of effect in cancer-related neuropathic pain or HIV-related neuropathic pain, but some evidence of effect in painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN), mixed neuropathic pain, and fibromyalgia. Combining the classic neuropathic pain conditions of PDN, postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) and post-stroke pain with fibromyalgia for second-tier evidence, in eight studies and 687 participants, there was a statistically significant benefit (risk ratio (RR) 2.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.8 to 3.1) with a number needed to treat (NNT) of 4.6 (3.6 to 6.6). The analysis showed that even using this potentially biased data, only about 38% of participants benefited with amitriptyline and 16% with placebo; most participants did not get adequate pain relief. Potential benefits of amitriptyline were supported by a lower rate of lack of efficacy withdrawals; 8/153 (5%) withdrew because of lack of efficacy with amitriptyline and 14/119 (12%) with placebo.More participants experienced at least one adverse event; 64% of participants taking amitriptyline and 40% taking placebo. The RR was 1.5 (95% CI 1.4 to 1.7) and the number needed to treat to harm was 4.1 (95% CI 3.2 to 5.7). Adverse event and all-cause withdrawals were not different.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS:

Amitriptyline has been a first-line treatment for neuropathic pain for many years. The fact that there is no supportive unbiased evidence for a beneficial effect is disappointing, but has to be balanced against decades of successful treatment in many patients with neuropathic pain or fibromyalgia. There is no good evidence of a lack of effect; rather our concern should be of overestimation of treatment effect. Amitriptyline should continue to be used as part of the treatment of neuropathic pain or fibromyalgia, but only a minority of patients will achieve satisfactory pain relief. Limited information suggests that failure with one antidepressant does not mean failure with all.It is unlikely that any large randomised trials of amitriptyline will be conducted in specific neuropathic pain conditions or in fibromyalgia to prove efficacy.

PMID:
23235657
DOI:
10.1002/14651858.CD008242.pub2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Icon for Wiley

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