Background and aim: L-Acetyl-carnitine (LAC) exerts an energetic effect on nerves and muscles. Recently, preclinical experiments have demonstrated a central anti-nociceptive action.
Objective: Our objective was to assess the effects of LAC on neuroprotection, pain, and function in carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), a very frequent chronic compressive neuropathy.
Methods: In a multicentre, examiner-blinded, clinical and neurophysiological 4-month study, we enrolled 82 patients and examined 120 hands with CTS of mild to moderate severity. Patients were assessed at baseline and 10, 60 and 120 days after treatment with LAC 500 mg twice daily (BID). All patients underwent a conduction study of the median nerve, the Boston Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire (BCTQ) and the Neuropathic Pain Symptom Inventory (NPSI). The primary endpoint was the sensory conduction velocity (SCV) of the median nerve.
Results: The primary endpoint was met, with significant improvement of the SCV (P < 0.0001). All sensory neurophysiological measures also significantly improved. BCTQ score changed significantly (P < 0.0001), with a greater improvement in the symptom component. Nine of the NPSI types of pain, particularly squeezing and pressure pain and pain evoked by pressure, showed a significant reduction (P < 0.0001).
Conclusions: Our clinical and neurophysiological study indicated that 4 months of treatment with LAC exerted a neuroprotective effect. LAC reduced pain in patients with mild and moderate CTS, a result that is possibly due to both its neuroprotective action and its central anti-nociceptive properties. Clinical Trials Registration code: EudraCT 2014-002289-62.