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Papers of the Week

Papers: 21 Jan 2023 - 3 Feb 2023

2023 Jan 10

Brain Sci



Carbamazepine for Chronic Muscle Pain: A Retrospective Assessment of Indications, Side Effects, and Treatment Response.



Myopathies fall under the umbrella of rare diseases, however, muscle pain is a relevant, under-recognized symptom with limited treatment options. Carbamazepine is an oral sodium channel blocker approved for the treatment of seizures and neuropathic pain. In 54 individuals receiving carbamazepine for muscle pain, we retrospectively assessed the subjective treatment response, side effects, and reasons for carbamazepine discontinuation. The underlying diagnoses leading to muscle pain were diverse, ranging from metabolic ( = 5) and other hereditary ( = 9) to acquired ( = 2) myopathies and myotonia syndromes ( = 22). Under carbamazepine (daily dose 254 ± 138 mg), patients reported a significant reduction of pain, quantified by an 11-point numeric rating scale (-1.9 ± 1.8, < 0.001). Compared to age- and sex-matched controls, our sensory assessment revealed a significant dysfunction of Aδ-nerve fibers in patients with chronic muscle pain. Neuropathic pain components identified by the painDETECT questionnaire or quantitative sensory testing did not seem to influence the reported treatment response. Side effects ( = 18) such as fatigue, elevated liver enzymes, and diarrhea, as well as lack of pain improvement ( = 6), led to carbamazepine discontinuation in 44.4% (24/54). Mediated by dysfunctional Aδ-nerve fibers, muscle pain is common in a variety of myopathies. Carbamazepine may reduce pain levels, but comes with therapy-limiting side effects.