The recently known analgesic action mechanisms of nefopam (NFP) are similar to those of anticonvulsants and antidepressants in neuropathic pain treatment. It is difficult to prescribe high doses of oral neuropathic drugs without titration due to adverse effects. Unfortunately, there are few available intravenous analgesics for the immediate management of acute flare-ups of the chronic neuropathic pain. The aim of this study was to determine the additional analgesic effects for neuropathic pain of NFP and its adverse effects during the titration of oral medications for neuropathic pain among inpatients with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).
Eighty inpatients with PHN were randomly divided into either the NFP or normal saline (NS) groups. Each patient received a 3-day intravenous continuous infusion of either NFP with a consecutive dose reduction of 60, 40, and 20 mg/d, or NS simultaneously while dose titrations of oral medications for neuropathic pain gradually increased every 3 days. The efficacy of additional NFP was evaluated by using the neuropathic pain symptom inventory (NPSI) score for 12 days. Adverse effects were also recorded.
The median NPSI score was significantly lower in the NFP group from days 1 to 6 of hospitalization. The representative alleviating symptoms of pain after using NFP were both spontaneous and evoked neuropathic pain. Reported common adverse effects were nausea, dizziness, and somnolence, in order of frequency.
An intravenous continuous infusion of NFP reduces spontaneous and evoked neuropathic pain with tolerable adverse effects during the titration of oral medications in inpatients with PHN.