Long-term use of gabapentin for treatment of pain after traumatic spinal cord injury

Clin J Pain. 2002 Mar-Apr;18(2):116-21. doi: 10.1097/00002508-200203000-00007.


Objective: To determine the long-term efficacy of gabapentin as a treatment of pain after spinal cord injury.

Design: All patients with traumatic-onset spinal cord injury treated with gabapentin were identified and followed up using a longitudinal observational design with two contact points (6 and 36 months after the trial) using a semi-structured interview. The first follow-up interview attempted to capture all 31 patients placed on therapeutic trial. The second follow-up interview attempted to capture those reporting a favorable response (n = 14) to the therapeutic trial at the first follow-up.

Results: Of the 27 patients contacted at the first follow-up (87% response rate), 6 (22%) discontinued the trial secondary to intolerable side effects; therefore, the pain analgesic effects of gabapentin in these patients could not be determined. Of the remaining 21 patients, 14 (67%) reported a favorable response (i.e., a 2 or greater point reduction on a 0-10 pain-rating scale). The second follow-up interview captured 11 (79% response rate) of the 14 patients reporting a favorable response at the first interview, and 91% (10 of 11 patients) continued to report that gabapentin was an effective analgesic. There was no evidence to suggest dosing difficulties due to tolerance over the 3-year period. Sedation, dizziness, and forgetfulness were the most common side effects.

Conclusions: Gabapentin may be an effective treatment of pain after spinal cord injury among those able to tolerate initial and long-term side effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / administration & dosage*
  • Amines*
  • Analgesics / administration & dosage
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cyclohexanecarboxylic Acids*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gabapentin
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Paraplegia / complications
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid*


  • Acetates
  • Amines
  • Analgesics
  • Cyclohexanecarboxylic Acids
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Gabapentin