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1.  An observational descriptive study of the epidemiology and treatment of neuropathic pain in a UK general population 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:28.
This study updated our knowledge of UK primary care neuropathic pain incidence rates and prescribing practices.
Patients with a first diagnosis of post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN) or phantom limb pain (PLP) were identified from the General Practice Research Database (2006 – 2010) and incidence rates were calculated. Prescription records were searched for pain treatments from diagnosis of these conditions and the duration and daily dose estimated for first-line and subsequent treatment regimens. Recording of neuropathic back and post-operative pain was investigated.
The study included 5,920 patients with PHN, 5,340 with PDN, and 185 with PLP. The incidence per 10,000 person-years was 3.4 (95% CI 3.4, 3.5) for PHN; and 0.11 (95% CI 0.09, 0.12) for PLP. Validation of the PDN case definition suggested that was not sensitive. Incident PHN increased over the study period. The most common first-line treatments were amitriptyline or gabapentin in the PDN and PLP cohorts, and amitriptyline or co-codamol (codeine-paracetamol) in PHN. Paracetamol, co-dydramol (paracetamol-dihydrocodeine) and capsaicin were also often prescribed in one or more condition. Most first-line treatments comprised only one therapeutic class. Use of antiepileptics licensed for neuropathic pain treatment had increased since 2002–2005. Amitriptyline was the only antidepressant prescribed commonly as a first-line treatment.
The UK incidence of diagnosed PHN has increased with the incidence of back-pain and post-operative pain unclear. While use of licenced antiepileptics increased, prescribing of therapy with little evidence of efficacy in neuropathic pain is still common and consequently treatment was often not in-line with current guidance.
PMCID: PMC3599764  PMID: 23442783
Neuropathic pain; Incidence; Post-herpetic neuralgia; Painful diabetic neuropathy; Phantom limb pain; Treatment; Antidepressant; Antiepileptic; Primary care
2.  Observational Study of the Association of First Insulin Type in Uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes with Macrovascular and Microvascular Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49908.
To compare the risk of vascular disease, HbA1c and weight change, between first prescribed insulins in people with type 2 diabetes.
People included in THIN United Kingdom primary care record database who began insulin (2000–2007) after poor control on oral glucose-lowering agents (OGLD) were grouped by the number of OGLDs in their treatment regimen immediately before starting insulin (n = 3,485). Within OGLD group, Cox regression compared macrovascular (all-cause mortality, myocardial infarction, acute coronary syndrome and stroke) and microvascular disease (peripheral neuropathy, nephropathy, and retinopathy) between insulin type (basal, pre-mix or Neutral Protamine Hagedorn, NPH) while ANCOVAs compared haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) and weight change.
Mean follow-up was 3.6 years. Rates of incident macrovascular events were similar when basal insulin was compared to pre-mix or NPH, adjusted hazard ratio versus basal: pre-mix 1.08 (95% CI 0.73, 1.59); NPH 1.00 (0.63, 1.58) after two OGLDs, and pre-mix 0.97 (0.46, 2.02); NPH 0.77 (0.32, 1.86) after three OGLDs. An increased risk of microvascular disease in NPH versus basal after 3 OGLDs, adjusted hazard ratio1.87 (1.04, 3.36), was not seen after two agents or in comparisons of basal and pre-mix. At one year, after two OGLDs, weight increase was less with basal compared with pre-mix. After three OGLDs, mean HbA1c had reduced less in basal versus pre-mix or NPH at 6–8 and at 9–11 months, and versus pre-mix at 12–14 months.
We found no difference in the risk of macrovascular events between first insulins in the medium term when started during poor glycaemia control. The increased risk of microvascular events with NPH warrants further study. In certain groups, first use of basal insulin was associated with less gain in weight and decrease in HbA1c compared to other insulins.
PMCID: PMC3498210  PMID: 23166795
3.  A randomised controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of a single session of nurse administered massage for short term relief of chronic non-malignant pain 
BMC Nursing  2008;7:10.
Massage is increasingly used to manage chronic pain but its benefit has not been clearly established. The aim of the study is to determine the effectiveness of a single session of nurse-administered massage for the short term relief of chronic non-malignant pain and anxiety.
A randomised controlled trial design was used, in which the patients were assigned to a massage or control group. The massage group received a 15 minute manual massage and the control group a 15 minute visit to talk about their pain. Adult patients attending a pain relief unit with a diagnosis of chronic pain whose pain was described as moderate or severe were eligible for the study. An observer blind to the patients' treatment group carried out assessments immediately before (baseline), after treatment and 1, 2, 3 and 4 hours later. Pain was assessed using 100 mm visual analogue scale and the McGill Pain Questionnaire. Pain Relief was assessed using a five point verbal rating scale. Anxiety was assessed with the Spielberger short form State-Trait Anxiety Inventory.
101 patients were randomised and evaluated, 50 in the massage and 51 in the control group. There were no statistically significant differences between the groups at baseline interview. Patients in the massage but not the control group had significantly less pain compared to baseline immediately after and one hour post treatment. 95% confidence interval for the difference in mean pain reduction at one hour post treatment between the massage and control groups is 5.47 mm to 24.70 mm. Patients in the massage but not the control group had a statistically significant reduction in anxiety compared to baseline immediately after and at 1 hour post treatment.
Massage is effective in the short term for chronic pain of moderate to severe intensity.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC2533334  PMID: 18601729
4.  Primary care incidence and treatment of four neuropathic pain conditions: A descriptive study, 2002–2005 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:26.
Between 1992 and 2001 the UK general practice incidence of post-herpetic neuralgia and trigeminal neuralgia declined, whilst the incidence of painful diabetic neuropathy increased. The most common first line treatments were compound analgesics. As therapeutic options have subsequently changed, this study presents updated data on incidence and prescribing patterns in neuropathic pain.
A descriptive analysis of the epidemiology and prescription treatment at diagnosis of incident post-herpetic neuralgia (n = 1,923); trigeminal neuralgia (1,862); phantom limb pain (57) and painful diabetic neuropathy (1,444) using computerised UK general practice records (THIN): May 2002 to July 2005.
Primary care incidences per 100,000 person years observation of 28 (95% confidence interval (CI) 27–30) for post-herpetic neuralgia, 27 (95%CI 26–29) for trigeminal neuralgia, 0.8 (95%CI 0.6–1.1) for phantom limb pain and 21 (95%CI 20–22) for painful diabetic neuropathy are reported. The most common initial treatments were tricyclic antidepressants (post-herpetic neuralgia) or antiepileptics (trigeminal neuralgia and painful diabetic neuropathy) and opioid analgesics (phantom limb pain). The mean number of changes before a stable drug regimen was 1.2 to 1.5 for trigeminal neuralgia, painful diabetic neuropathy and post-herpetic neuralgia, and 2.4 for phantom limb pain.
The incidence of phantom limb pain and post-herpetic neuralgia are decreasing whilst painful diabetic neuropathy plateaued and trigeminal neuralgia remained constant. Despite more frequent use of antidepressants and antiepileptics for first line treatment, as opposed to conventional non-opioid analgesics, changes to therapy are common before a stable regimen is reached.
PMCID: PMC2413228  PMID: 18460194
5.  Are cannabinoids an effective and safe treatment option in the management of pain? A qualitative systematic review 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7303):13.
To establish whether cannabis is an effective and safe treatment option in the management of pain.
Systematic review of randomised controlled trials.
Data sources
Electronic databases Medline, Embase, Oxford Pain Database, and Cochrane Library; references from identified papers; hand searches.
Study selection
Trials of cannabis given by any route of administration (experimental intervention) with any analgesic or placebo (control intervention) in patients with acute, chronic non-malignant, or cancer pain. Outcomes examined were pain intensity scores, pain relief scores, and adverse effects. Validity of trials was assessed independently with the Oxford score.
Data extraction
Independent data extraction; discrepancies resolved by consensus.
Data synthesis
20 randomised controlled trials were identified, 11 of which were excluded. Of the 9 included trials (222 patients), 5 trials related to cancer pain, 2 to chronic non-malignant pain, and 2 to acute postoperative pain. No randomised controlled trials evaluated cannabis; all tested active substances were cannabinoids. Oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 5-20 mg, an oral synthetic nitrogen analogue of THC 1 mg, and intramuscular levonantradol 1.5-3 mg were about as effective as codeine 50-120 mg, and oral benzopyranoperidine 2-4 mg was less effective than codeine 60-120 mg and no better than placebo. Adverse effects, most often psychotropic, were common.
Cannabinoids are no more effective than codeine in controlling pain and have depressant effects on the central nervous system that limit their use. Their widespread introduction into clinical practice for pain management is therefore undesirable. In acute postoperative pain they should not be used. Before cannabinoids can be considered for treating spasticity and neuropathic pain, further valid randomised controlled studies are needed.
What is already known on this topicThree quarters of British doctors surveyed in 1994 wanted cannabis available on prescriptionHumans have cannabinoid receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systemIn animal testing cannabinoids are analgesic and reduce signs of neuropathic painSome evidence exists that cannabinoids may be analgesic in humansWhat this study addsNo studies have been conducted on smoked cannabisCannabinoids give about the same level of pain relief as codeine in acute postoperative painThey depress the central nervous system
PMCID: PMC34324  PMID: 11440935
6.  Cannabinoids for control of chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting: quantitative systematic review 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7303):16.
To quantify the antiemetic efficacy and adverse effects of cannabis used for sickness induced by chemotherapy.
Systematic review.
Data sources
Systematic search (Medline, Embase, Cochrane library, bibliographies), any language, to August 2000.
30 randomised comparisons of cannabis with placebo or antiemetics from which dichotomous data on efficacy and harm were available (1366 patients). Oral nabilone, oral dronabinol (tetrahydrocannabinol), and intramuscular levonantradol were tested. No cannabis was smoked. Follow up lasted 24 hours.
Cannabinoids were more effective antiemetics than prochlorperazine, metoclopramide, chlorpromazine, thiethylperazine, haloperidol, domperidone, or alizapride: relative risk 1.38 (95% confidence interval 1.18 to 1.62), number needed to treat 6 for complete control of nausea; 1.28 (1.08 to 1.51), NNT 8 for complete control of vomiting. Cannabinoids were not more effective in patients receiving very low or very high emetogenic chemotherapy. In crossover trials, patients preferred cannabinoids for future chemotherapy cycles: 2.39 (2.05 to 2.78), NNT 3. Some potentially beneficial side effects occurred more often with cannabinoids: “high” 10.6 (6.86 to 16.5), NNT 3; sedation or drowsiness 1.66 (1.46 to 1.89), NNT 5; euphoria 12.5 (3.00 to 52.1), NNT 7. Harmful side effects also occurred more often with cannabinoids: dizziness 2.97 (2.31 to 3.83), NNT 3; dysphoria or depression 8.06 (3.38 to 19.2), NNT 8; hallucinations 6.10 (2.41 to 15.4), NNT 17; paranoia 8.58 (6.38 to 11.5), NNT 20; and arterial hypotension 2.23 (1.75 to 2.83), NNT 7. Patients given cannabinoids were more likely to withdraw due to side effects 4.67 (3.07 to 7.09), NNT 11.
In selected patients, the cannabinoids tested in these trials may be useful as mood enhancing adjuvants for controlling chemotherapy related sickness. Potentially serious adverse effects, even when taken short term orally or intramuscularly, are likely to limit their widespread use.
What is already known on this topicRequests have been made for legalisation of cannabis (marijuana) for medical useLong term smoking of cannabis can have physical and neuropsychiatric adverse effectsCannabis may be useful in the control of chemotherapy related sicknessWhat this study addsOral nabilone and dronabinol and intramuscular levonantradol are superior to conventional antiemetics (such as prochlorperazine or metoclopramide) in chemotherapySide effects are common with cannabinoids, and although some may be potentially beneficial (euphoria, “high,” sedation), others are harmful (dysphoria, depression, hallucinations)Many patients have a strong preference for cannabinoids
PMCID: PMC34325  PMID: 11440936

Results 1-6 (6)