Gabapentin for chronic neuropathic pain in adults
There is moderate-quality evidence that oral gabapentin at doses of 1200 mg daily or more has an important effect on pain in some people with moderate or severe neuropathic pain after shingles or due to diabetes.
Neuropathic pain comes from damaged nerves. It is different from pain messages that are carried along healthy nerves from damaged tissue (for example, from a fall or cut, or arthritic knee). Neuropathic pain is often treated with different medicines (drugs) to those used for pain from damaged tissue, which we often think of as painkillers. Medicines that are sometimes used to treat depression or epilepsy can be effective in some people with neuropathic pain. One of these is gabapentin. Our definition of a good result was someone with a high level of pain relief and able to keep taking the medicine without side effects making them stop.
In January 2017 we searched for clinical trials in which gabapentin was used to treat neuropathic pain in adults. We found 37 studies that satisfied the inclusion criteria, randomizing 5914 participants to treatment with gabapentin, placebo, or other drugs. Studies lasted 4 to 12 weeks. Most studies reported beneficial outcomes that people with neuropathic pain think are important. Results were mainly in pain after shingles and pain resulting from nerve damage in diabetes.