Tramadol in post-herpetic neuralgia: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Pain. 2003 Jul;104(1-2):323-31. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3959(03)00020-4.


The efficacy and safety of sustained-release tramadol compared to placebo in the treatment of post-herpetic neuralgia were evaluated in a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group study in 127 outpatients. Treatment was administrated for 6 weeks. The dose of tramadol could be increased from 100 mg/day to 400 mg/day (300 mg/day in patients more than 75 years old). Groups were compared on changes in pain intensity on a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) between inclusion and the 6th week of treatment (covariance analysis as main analysis and repeated measures analysis as complementary analysis) in the per protocol (PP) population. The randomized population comprised 127 patients aged 35-85 years, mostly females (72.4%). Groups were comparable at inclusion both in the intent to treat (ITT) population (63 patients in the tramadol group and 62 patients in the placebo group) and in the PP population (53 patients in the tramadol group and 55 patients in the placebo group). Mean pain intensity on day 43 adjusted on day 1 (covariance analysis) was significantly lower in the tramadol group than in the placebo group in both the PP (P=0.0499), and the ITT (P=0.031) populations. The two groups significantly differed on change in pain intensity over time (repeated measures analysis) in the ITT population (P=0.012). The percentage of pain relief over the 6th week was significantly higher in the tramadol group than in the placebo group (P=0.017). During the 6th week, patients in the tramadol group required less rescue medication than patients in the placebo group (P=0.022). No significant difference was found between groups either in pain intensity on a 5-point Verbal Scale (VRS) or in quality of life measurements. Tramadol was administered at an average dosage of 275.5 (89.7) mg/day after a 1-week dose-adaptation period. Tramadol was well tolerated. No notable difference appeared between groups either in the percentage of patients with treatment-associated adverse events (TAAE) (29.7% in the tramadol group and 31.8% in the placebo group) or in the total number of TAAE (31 in the tramadol group and 28 in the placebo group).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Herpes Zoster / complications
  • Herpes Zoster / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuralgia / drug therapy*
  • Neuralgia / etiology
  • Pain Measurement / drug effects
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Tramadol / adverse effects
  • Tramadol / pharmacology
  • Tramadol / therapeutic use*


  • Tramadol