Background & aims: Pain is a disabling symptom for patients with chronic pancreatitis (CP) and difficult to treat. Evidence from basic science and human studies indicates that pain processing by the central nervous system is abnormal and resembles that observed in patients with neuropathic pain disorders. We investigated whether agents used to treat patients with neuropathic pain are effective in CP.
Methods: We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the effects of the gabapentoid pregabalin as an adjuvant analgesic. We measured pain relief, health status, quality of life, and tolerability in 64 patients with pain from CP; they were randomly assigned to groups given increasing doses of pregabalin or placebo (control) for 3 consecutive weeks. The primary end point was pain relief, based on a visual analogue scale documented by a pain diary. Secondary end points included Patients' Global Impression of Change (PGIC) score, changes in physical and functional scales, pain character, quality of life, and tolerability.
Results: Pregabalin, compared with placebo, caused more effective pain relief after 3 weeks of treatment (36% vs 24%; mean difference, 12%; 95% confidence interval, 22%-2%; P = .02). The percentage of patients with much or very much improved health status (PGIC score) at the end of the study was higher in the pregabalin than the control group (44% vs 21%; P = .048). Changes in physical and functional scales, pain character, quality of life, and number of serious adverse events were comparable between groups.
Conclusions: In a placebo-controlled trial, pregabalin is an effective adjuvant therapy for pain in patients with CP.
Copyright © 2011 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.