WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
Feb. 5, 2010 -- A drug used to treat depression, fibromyalgia, and diabetic
nerve pain may also provide relief from hard-to-treat chronic low back
A new study shows people with chronic low back pain treated with Cymbalta
experienced a significantly greater improvement in average pain scores than
those treated with a placebo. Those treated with Cymbalta also reported a
greater reduction in their perception of their low back pain and its
interference in their daily lives.
Chronic low back pain is defined as any pain in the low back that lasts more
than 12 weeks. Researchers say the problem is difficult to treat because the
cause is often unclear.
"Chronic low back pain affects a significant number of people. In fact,
research suggests that the incidence of the condition may be as high as 48
percent," says researcher Vladimir Skljarevski, MD, senior medical director at
Lilly Research Laboratories, in a news release.
Cymbalta is part of a class of antidepressants that affect both serotonin
and norepinephrine in the brain.
In the study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of
Pain Medicine in San Antonio, researchers compared the effects of treatment
with 60 milligrams of Cymbalta once a day or a placebo in 401 adults with
chronic low back pain.
After 12 weeks of treatment, the results showed those treated with Cymbalta
had a significantly greater reduction in average pain, as measured by the Brief
Pain Inventory. They also experienced greater improvement in their own
perception of their low back pain and its severity and interference with their
Treatment with Cymbalta also had a slight, but not significant, effect on
The most common significant side effects of treatment with Cymbalta were
nausea and dry mouth. Fifteen percent of those treated with Cymbalta dropped
out of the study due to adverse side effects compared with 5% of those who
received a placebo.
Eli Lilly and Company, which markets Cymbalta, funded and took part in the
study. Cymbalta is approved by the FDA to treat major depression and
generalized anxiety disorder as well as to manage diabetic nerve pain and
SOURCES:Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, San Antonio, Feb.
3-6, 2010.News release, Eli Lilly and Company.
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