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Results of First Study Using Neurontin for Spinal Stenosis

Gabapentin (Neurontin) has been used quite successfully for patients with neuropathic (nerve) pain in the hands and feet. In this study, patients with neurologic intermittent claudication (NIC) from lumbar spinal stenosis were given gabapentin.

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal or nerve canal where the spinal cord or nerve roots are located. Pressure on these nerve tissues and possible lack of blood supply to the area can cause NIC. NIC is described as pain, numbness, or discomfort in the legs when standing or walking. The affected patient must stop, rest, or bend or stoop forward to get relief from the symptoms.

Gabapentin is a pain reliever and an anti-seizure medication. It seems to work well with patients who have nerve pain from diabetes. In this pilot study, it also helped patients with spinal stenosis.

Patients with spinal stenosis were divided into two groups. Everyone was treated with exercises, a corset, and an antiinflammatory drug. Only one group got the neurontin as well. Results were measured by walking distance, pain level, and neurologic symptoms.

Everyone was able to walk better after four months. But the gabapentin group could walk much farther at the end of each month. Pain levels were significantly improved in the gabapentin group. Twice as many people in the gabapentin group (compared to the control group) had less numbness in their legs and feet.

The authors conclude gabapentin may be a good drug to use with patients who have spinal stenosis. Further study is needed before this recommendation is made for everyone. Patients older than 65 (the age group affected most often by stenosis) must be studied carefully.

Ali Yaksi, MD, et al. The Efficiency of Gabapentin Therapy in Patients with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. In Spine. April 20, 2007. Vol. 32. No. 9. Pp. 939-942.


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