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Morphine for chronic neuropathic pain in adults.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Neuropathic pain, which is caused by a lesion or disease affecting the somatosensory system, may be central or peripheral in origin. Neuropathic pain often includes symptoms such as burning or shooting sensations, abnormal sensitivity to normally painless stimuli, or an increased sensitivity to normally painful stimuli. Neuropathic pain is a common symptom in many diseases of the nervous system. Opioid drugs, including morphine, are commonly used to treat neuropathic pain. Most reviews have examined all opioids together. This review sought evidence specifically for morphine; other opioids are considered in separate reviews.

OBJECTIVES

To assess the analgesic efficacy and adverse events of morphine for chronic neuropathic pain in adults.

SEARCH METHODS

We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, and Embase for randomised controlled trials from inception to February 2017. We also searched the reference lists of retrieved studies and reviews, and online clinical trial registries.

SELECTION CRITERIA

We included randomised, double-blind trials of two weeks' duration or longer, comparing morphine (any route of administration) with placebo or another active treatment for neuropathic pain, with participant-reported pain assessment.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS

Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed trial quality and potential bias. Primary outcomes were participants with substantial pain relief (at least 50% pain relief over baseline or very much improved on Patient Global Impression of Change scale (PGIC)), or moderate pain relief (at least 30% pain relief over baseline or much or very much improved on PGIC). Where pooled analysis was possible, we used dichotomous data to calculate risk ratio (RR) and number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome (NNT) or harmful outcome (NNH). We assessed the quality of the evidence using GRADE and created 'Summary of findings' tables.

MAIN RESULTS

We identified five randomised, double-blind, cross-over studies with treatment periods of four to seven weeks, involving 236 participants in suitably characterised neuropathic pain; 152 (64%) participants completed all treatment periods. Oral morphine was titrated to maximum daily doses of 90 mg to 180 mg or the maximum tolerated dose, and then maintained for the remainder of the study. Participants had experienced moderate or severe neuropathic pain for at least three months. Included studies involved people with painful diabetic neuropathy, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia criteria, phantom limb or postamputation pain, and lumbar radiculopathy. Exclusions were typically people with other significant comorbidity or pain from other causes.Overall, we judged the studies to be at low risk of bias, but there were concerns over small study size and the imputation method used for participants who withdrew from the studies, both of which could lead to overestimation of treatment benefits and underestimation of harm.There was insufficient or no evidence for the primary outcomes of interest for efficacy or harm. Four studies reported an approximation of moderate pain improvement (any pain-related outcome indicating some improvement) comparing morphine with placebo in different types of neuropathic pain. We pooled these data in an exploratory analysis. Moderate improvement was experienced by 63% (87/138) of participants with morphine and 36% (45/125) with placebo; the risk difference (RD) was 0.27 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.16 to 0.38, fixed-effects analysis) and the NNT 3.7 (2.6 to 6.5). We assessed the quality of the evidence as very low because of the small number of events; available information did not provide a reliable indication of the likely effect, and the likelihood that the effect will be substantially different was very high. A similar exploratory analysis for substantial pain relief on three studies (177 participants) showed no difference between morphine and placebo.All-cause withdrawals in four studies occurred in 16% (24/152) of participants with morphine and 12% (16/137) with placebo. The RD was 0.04 (-0.04 to 0.12, random-effects analysis). Adverse events were inconsistently reported, more common with morphine than with placebo, and typical of opioids. There were two serious adverse events, one with morphine, and one with a combination of morphine and nortriptyline. No deaths were reported. These outcomes were assessed as very low quality because of the limited number of participants and events.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS

There was insufficient evidence to support or refute the suggestion that morphine has any efficacy in any neuropathic pain condition.

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  • Authors+Show Affiliations

    ,

    Cochrane Pain, Palliative and Supportive Care Group, Pain Research Unit, Churchill Hospital, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK, OX3 7LE.

    ,

    Evolent Health, 800 N Glebe Road, Suite 500, Arlington, Virginia, USA, 22203.

    ,

    Pain Research and Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences (Nuffield Division of Anaesthetics), University of Oxford, Pain Research Unit, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK, OX3 7LE.

    ,

    Pain Research and Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences (Nuffield Division of Anaesthetics), University of Oxford, Pain Research Unit, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK, OX3 7LE.

    ,

    Pain Research, Education and Policy (PREP) Program, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

    ,

    Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, UK, SO22 5DG.

    ,

    Oxford Pain Relief Unit, Churchill Hospital, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Old Road Headington, Oxford, UK, OX3 7LE.

    Pain Research and Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences (Nuffield Division of Anaesthetics), University of Oxford, Pain Research Unit, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK, OX3 7LE.

    Source

    MeSH

    Administration, Oral
    Adult
    Aged
    Aged, 80 and over
    Analgesics, Opioid
    Chronic Pain
    Humans
    Middle Aged
    Morphine
    Neuralgia
    Numbers Needed To Treat
    Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
    Treatment Outcome

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Meta-Analysis
    Review
    Systematic Review

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    28530786

    Citation

    Cooper, Tess E., et al. "Morphine for Chronic Neuropathic Pain in Adults." The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, vol. 5, 2017, p. CD011669.
    Cooper TE, Chen J, Wiffen PJ, et al. Morphine for chronic neuropathic pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;5:CD011669.
    Cooper, T. E., Chen, J., Wiffen, P. J., Derry, S., Carr, D. B., Aldington, D., ... Moore, R. A. (2017). Morphine for chronic neuropathic pain in adults. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 5, p. CD011669. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011669.pub2.
    Cooper TE, et al. Morphine for Chronic Neuropathic Pain in Adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 05 22;5:CD011669. PubMed PMID: 28530786.
    * Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
    TY - JOUR T1 - Morphine for chronic neuropathic pain in adults. AU - Cooper,Tess E, AU - Chen,Junqiao, AU - Wiffen,Philip J, AU - Derry,Sheena, AU - Carr,Daniel B, AU - Aldington,Dominic, AU - Cole,Peter, AU - Moore,R Andrew, Y1 - 2017/05/22/ PY - 2017/5/23/pubmed PY - 2017/8/5/medline PY - 2017/5/23/entrez SP - CD011669 EP - CD011669 JF - The Cochrane database of systematic reviews JO - Cochrane Database Syst Rev VL - 5 N2 - BACKGROUND: Neuropathic pain, which is caused by a lesion or disease affecting the somatosensory system, may be central or peripheral in origin. Neuropathic pain often includes symptoms such as burning or shooting sensations, abnormal sensitivity to normally painless stimuli, or an increased sensitivity to normally painful stimuli. Neuropathic pain is a common symptom in many diseases of the nervous system. Opioid drugs, including morphine, are commonly used to treat neuropathic pain. Most reviews have examined all opioids together. This review sought evidence specifically for morphine; other opioids are considered in separate reviews. OBJECTIVES: To assess the analgesic efficacy and adverse events of morphine for chronic neuropathic pain in adults. SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, and Embase for randomised controlled trials from inception to February 2017. We also searched the reference lists of retrieved studies and reviews, and online clinical trial registries. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised, double-blind trials of two weeks' duration or longer, comparing morphine (any route of administration) with placebo or another active treatment for neuropathic pain, with participant-reported pain assessment. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed trial quality and potential bias. Primary outcomes were participants with substantial pain relief (at least 50% pain relief over baseline or very much improved on Patient Global Impression of Change scale (PGIC)), or moderate pain relief (at least 30% pain relief over baseline or much or very much improved on PGIC). Where pooled analysis was possible, we used dichotomous data to calculate risk ratio (RR) and number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome (NNT) or harmful outcome (NNH). We assessed the quality of the evidence using GRADE and created 'Summary of findings' tables. MAIN RESULTS: We identified five randomised, double-blind, cross-over studies with treatment periods of four to seven weeks, involving 236 participants in suitably characterised neuropathic pain; 152 (64%) participants completed all treatment periods. Oral morphine was titrated to maximum daily doses of 90 mg to 180 mg or the maximum tolerated dose, and then maintained for the remainder of the study. Participants had experienced moderate or severe neuropathic pain for at least three months. Included studies involved people with painful diabetic neuropathy, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia criteria, phantom limb or postamputation pain, and lumbar radiculopathy. Exclusions were typically people with other significant comorbidity or pain from other causes.Overall, we judged the studies to be at low risk of bias, but there were concerns over small study size and the imputation method used for participants who withdrew from the studies, both of which could lead to overestimation of treatment benefits and underestimation of harm.There was insufficient or no evidence for the primary outcomes of interest for efficacy or harm. Four studies reported an approximation of moderate pain improvement (any pain-related outcome indicating some improvement) comparing morphine with placebo in different types of neuropathic pain. We pooled these data in an exploratory analysis. Moderate improvement was experienced by 63% (87/138) of participants with morphine and 36% (45/125) with placebo; the risk difference (RD) was 0.27 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.16 to 0.38, fixed-effects analysis) and the NNT 3.7 (2.6 to 6.5). We assessed the quality of the evidence as very low because of the small number of events; available information did not provide a reliable indication of the likely effect, and the likelihood that the effect will be substantially different was very high. A similar exploratory analysis for substantial pain relief on three studies (177 participants) showed no difference between morphine and placebo.All-cause withdrawals in four studies occurred in 16% (24/152) of participants with morphine and 12% (16/137) with placebo. The RD was 0.04 (-0.04 to 0.12, random-effects analysis). Adverse events were inconsistently reported, more common with morphine than with placebo, and typical of opioids. There were two serious adverse events, one with morphine, and one with a combination of morphine and nortriptyline. No deaths were reported. These outcomes were assessed as very low quality because of the limited number of participants and events. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: There was insufficient evidence to support or refute the suggestion that morphine has any efficacy in any neuropathic pain condition. SN - 1469-493X UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/28530786/Morphine_for_chronic_neuropathic_pain_in_adults_ L2 - https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD011669.pub2 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -