Pain syndromes of Guillain-Barré are neuropathic as well as nociceptive in origin. We aimed to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of gabapentin in relieving the bimodal nature of pain in Guillain-Barré syndrome in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover study in 18 patients admitted to the intensive care unit for ventilatory support. Patients were assigned to receive either gabapentin (15 mg. kg(-1). d(-1) in 3 divided doses) or matching placebo as initial medication for 7 days. After a 2-day washout period, those who previously received gabapentin received placebo, and those previously receiving placebo received gabapentin as in the initial phase. Fentanyl 2 micro g/kg was used as a rescue analgesic on patient demand or when the pain score was >5 on a numeric rating scale of 0-10. The numeric rating score, sedation score, consumption of fentanyl, and adverse effects were noted, and these observed variables were compared. The numeric pain score decreased from 7.22 +/- 0.83 to 2.33 +/- 1.67 on the second day after initiation of gabapentin therapy and remained low during the period of gabapentin therapy (2.06 +/- 0.63) (P < 0.001). There was a significant decrease in the need for fentanyl from Day 1 to Day 7 during the gabapentin therapy period (211.11 +/- 21.39 to 65.53 +/- 16.17 [ micro g]) in comparison to the placebo therapy period (319.44 +/- 25.08 to 316.67 +/- 24.25 [ micro g]) (P < 0.001).
Implications: Gabapentin, an antiepileptic drug, has been used effectively for different types of pain management. This study demonstrates that gabapentin has minimal side effects and is an alternative to opioids and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs for management of the bimodal nature of pain of Guillain-Barré Syndrome patients.