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According to Statistics Canada, back pain is one of the most common medical conditions – with as many as 80% of Canadians experiencing at least one episode of chronic back pain in their lifetime.

While back pain is typically treated with painkillers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), a type of drugs called gabapentinoids have become increasingly prescribed for chronic lower back pain.

Gabapentinoids are typically used to treat epilepsy, neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia – but their off-label use spans a range of conditions from bipolar disorder to back pain.

In a review published in PLOS Medicine, St. Joe’s researchers have found that gabapentinoids are ineffective at treating chronic lower back pain – citing a lack of evidence supporting their usefulness in treating this condition.

The study was led by Dr. Harsha Shanthanna, chronic pain physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and associate professor at McMaster University.

By finding off-label uses of medications to be ineffective, this research can guide doctors to prescribe medications that better meet patient needs.


Read more about this story from CBC News, Proto Magazine and ScienceDaily

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