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Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for acute low back pain.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 04 16; 4:CD013581.CD

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Acute low back pain (LBP) is a common health problem. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often used in the treatment of LBP, particularly in people with acute LBP. In 2008, a Cochrane Review was published about the efficacy of NSAIDs for LBP (acute, chronic, and sciatica), identifying a small but significant effect in favour of NSAIDs compared to placebo for short-term pain reduction and global improvement in participants with acute LBP. This is an update of the previous review, focusing on acute LBP.

OBJECTIVES

To assess the effects of NSAIDs compared to placebo and other comparison treatments for acute LBP.

SEARCH METHODS

We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, PubMed, and two trials registers for randomised controlled trials (RCT) to 7 January 2020. We also screened the reference lists from relevant reviews and included studies.

SELECTION CRITERIA

We included RCTs that assessed the use of one or more types of NSAIDs compared to placebo (the main comparison) or alternative treatments for acute LBP in adults (≥ 18 years); conducted in both primary and secondary care settings. We assessed the effects of treatment on pain reduction, disability, global improvement, adverse events, and return to work.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS

Two review authors independently selected trials to be included in this review, evaluated the risk of bias, and extracted the data. If appropriate, we performed a meta-analysis, using a random-effects model throughout, due to expected variability between studies. We assessed the quality of the evidence using the GRADE approach. We used standard methodological procedures recommended by Cochrane.

MAIN RESULTS

We included 32 trials, with a total of 5356 participants (age range 16 to 78 years). Follow-up ranged from one day to six months. Studies were conducted across the globe, the majority taking place in Europe and North-America. Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean region were not represented. We considered seven studies at low risk of bias. Performance and attrition were the most common biases. There was often a lack of information on randomisation procedures and allocation concealment (selection bias); studies were prone to selective reporting bias, since most studies did not register their trials. Almost half of the studies were industry-funded. There is moderate quality evidence that NSAIDs are slightly more effective in short-term (≤ 3 weeks) reduction of pain intensity (visual analogue scale (VAS), 0 to 100) than placebo (mean difference (MD) -7.29 (95% confidence interval (CI) -10.98 to -3.61; 4 RCTs, N = 815). There is high quality evidence that NSAIDs are slightly more effective for short-term improvement in disability (Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ), 0 to 24) than placebo (MD -2.02, 95% CI -2.89 to -1.15; 2 RCTs, N = 471). The magnitude of these effects is small and probably not clinically relevant. There is low quality evidence that NSAIDs are slightly more effective for short-term global improvement than placebo (risk ratio (RR) 1.40, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.75; 5 RCTs, N = 1201), but there was substantial heterogeneity (I² 52%) between studies. There is very low quality evidence of no clear difference in the proportion of participants experiencing adverse events when using NSAIDs compared to placebo (RR 0.86, 95% CI 0.63 to 1.18; 6 RCTs, N = 1394). There is very low quality evidence of no clear difference between the proportion of participants who could return to work after seven days between those who used NSAIDs and those who used placebo (RR 1.48, 95% CI 0.98 to 2.23; 1 RCT, N = 266). There is low quality evidence of no clear difference in short-term reduction of pain intensity between those who took selective COX-2 inhibitor NSAIDs compared to non-selective NSAIDs (mean change from baseline -2.60, 95% CI -9.23 to 4.03; 2 RCTs, N = 437). There is moderate quality evidence of conflicting results for short-term disability improvement between groups (2 RCTs, N = 437). Low quality evidence from one trial (N = 333) reported no clear difference between groups in the proportion of participants experiencing global improvement. There is very low quality evidence of no clear difference in the proportion of participants experiencing adverse events between those who took COX-2 inhibitors and non-selective NSAIDs (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.63 to 1.50; 2 RCTs, N = 444). No data were reported for return to work.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS

This updated Cochrane Review included 32 trials to evaluate the efficacy of NSAIDs in people with acute LBP. The quality of the evidence ranged from high to very low, thus further research is (very) likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimates of effect, and may change the estimates. NSAIDs seemed slightly more effective than placebo for short-term pain reduction (moderate certainty), disability (high certainty), and global improvement (low certainty), but the magnitude of the effects is small and probably not clinically relevant. There was no clear difference in short-term pain reduction (low certainty) when comparing selective COX-2 inhibitors to non-selective NSAIDs. We found very low evidence of no clear difference in the proportion of participants experiencing adverse events in both the comparison of NSAIDs versus placebo and selective COX-2 inhibitors versus non-selective NSAIDs. We were unable to draw conclusions about adverse events and the safety of NSAIDs for longer-term use, since we only included RCTs with a primary focus on short-term use of NSAIDs and a short follow-up. These are not optimal for answering questions about longer-term or rare adverse events.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Erasmus Medical Center, Department of General Practice, Rotterdam, Netherlands.University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Department of Health Sciences, Community and Occupational Medicine, Groningen, Netherlands. Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Research Centre Innovations in Care, Rotterdam, Netherlands.Erasmus Medical Center, Department of General Practice, Rotterdam, Netherlands.VU University Amsterdam, Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, PO Box 7057, Room U454, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1007 MB. Aarhus University Hospital, Department of Physiotherapy & Occupational Therapy, Aarhus, Denmark.Erasmus Medical Center, Department of General Practice, Rotterdam, Netherlands. University of Southern Denmark, Center for Muscle and Health, Odense, Denmark.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Meta-Analysis
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Systematic Review

Language

eng

PubMed ID

32297973

Citation

van der Gaag, Wendelien H., et al. "Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs for Acute Low Back Pain." The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, vol. 4, 2020, p. CD013581.
van der Gaag WH, Roelofs PD, Enthoven WT, et al. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for acute low back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020;4:CD013581.
van der Gaag, W. H., Roelofs, P. D., Enthoven, W. T., van Tulder, M. W., & Koes, B. W. (2020). Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for acute low back pain. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 4, CD013581. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD013581
van der Gaag WH, et al. Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs for Acute Low Back Pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 04 16;4:CD013581. PubMed PMID: 32297973.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for acute low back pain. AU - van der Gaag,Wendelien H, AU - Roelofs,Pepijn Ddm, AU - Enthoven,Wendy Tm, AU - van Tulder,Maurits W, AU - Koes,Bart W, Y1 - 2020/04/16/ PY - 2021/04/16/pmc-release PY - 2020/4/17/entrez PY - 2020/4/17/pubmed PY - 2020/4/17/medline SP - CD013581 EP - CD013581 JF - The Cochrane database of systematic reviews JO - Cochrane Database Syst Rev VL - 4 N2 - BACKGROUND: Acute low back pain (LBP) is a common health problem. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often used in the treatment of LBP, particularly in people with acute LBP. In 2008, a Cochrane Review was published about the efficacy of NSAIDs for LBP (acute, chronic, and sciatica), identifying a small but significant effect in favour of NSAIDs compared to placebo for short-term pain reduction and global improvement in participants with acute LBP. This is an update of the previous review, focusing on acute LBP. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of NSAIDs compared to placebo and other comparison treatments for acute LBP. SEARCH METHODS: We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, PubMed, and two trials registers for randomised controlled trials (RCT) to 7 January 2020. We also screened the reference lists from relevant reviews and included studies. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included RCTs that assessed the use of one or more types of NSAIDs compared to placebo (the main comparison) or alternative treatments for acute LBP in adults (≥ 18 years); conducted in both primary and secondary care settings. We assessed the effects of treatment on pain reduction, disability, global improvement, adverse events, and return to work. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently selected trials to be included in this review, evaluated the risk of bias, and extracted the data. If appropriate, we performed a meta-analysis, using a random-effects model throughout, due to expected variability between studies. We assessed the quality of the evidence using the GRADE approach. We used standard methodological procedures recommended by Cochrane. MAIN RESULTS: We included 32 trials, with a total of 5356 participants (age range 16 to 78 years). Follow-up ranged from one day to six months. Studies were conducted across the globe, the majority taking place in Europe and North-America. Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean region were not represented. We considered seven studies at low risk of bias. Performance and attrition were the most common biases. There was often a lack of information on randomisation procedures and allocation concealment (selection bias); studies were prone to selective reporting bias, since most studies did not register their trials. Almost half of the studies were industry-funded. There is moderate quality evidence that NSAIDs are slightly more effective in short-term (≤ 3 weeks) reduction of pain intensity (visual analogue scale (VAS), 0 to 100) than placebo (mean difference (MD) -7.29 (95% confidence interval (CI) -10.98 to -3.61; 4 RCTs, N = 815). There is high quality evidence that NSAIDs are slightly more effective for short-term improvement in disability (Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ), 0 to 24) than placebo (MD -2.02, 95% CI -2.89 to -1.15; 2 RCTs, N = 471). The magnitude of these effects is small and probably not clinically relevant. There is low quality evidence that NSAIDs are slightly more effective for short-term global improvement than placebo (risk ratio (RR) 1.40, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.75; 5 RCTs, N = 1201), but there was substantial heterogeneity (I² 52%) between studies. There is very low quality evidence of no clear difference in the proportion of participants experiencing adverse events when using NSAIDs compared to placebo (RR 0.86, 95% CI 0.63 to 1.18; 6 RCTs, N = 1394). There is very low quality evidence of no clear difference between the proportion of participants who could return to work after seven days between those who used NSAIDs and those who used placebo (RR 1.48, 95% CI 0.98 to 2.23; 1 RCT, N = 266). There is low quality evidence of no clear difference in short-term reduction of pain intensity between those who took selective COX-2 inhibitor NSAIDs compared to non-selective NSAIDs (mean change from baseline -2.60, 95% CI -9.23 to 4.03; 2 RCTs, N = 437). There is moderate quality evidence of conflicting results for short-term disability improvement between groups (2 RCTs, N = 437). Low quality evidence from one trial (N = 333) reported no clear difference between groups in the proportion of participants experiencing global improvement. There is very low quality evidence of no clear difference in the proportion of participants experiencing adverse events between those who took COX-2 inhibitors and non-selective NSAIDs (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.63 to 1.50; 2 RCTs, N = 444). No data were reported for return to work. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: This updated Cochrane Review included 32 trials to evaluate the efficacy of NSAIDs in people with acute LBP. The quality of the evidence ranged from high to very low, thus further research is (very) likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimates of effect, and may change the estimates. NSAIDs seemed slightly more effective than placebo for short-term pain reduction (moderate certainty), disability (high certainty), and global improvement (low certainty), but the magnitude of the effects is small and probably not clinically relevant. There was no clear difference in short-term pain reduction (low certainty) when comparing selective COX-2 inhibitors to non-selective NSAIDs. We found very low evidence of no clear difference in the proportion of participants experiencing adverse events in both the comparison of NSAIDs versus placebo and selective COX-2 inhibitors versus non-selective NSAIDs. We were unable to draw conclusions about adverse events and the safety of NSAIDs for longer-term use, since we only included RCTs with a primary focus on short-term use of NSAIDs and a short follow-up. These are not optimal for answering questions about longer-term or rare adverse events. SN - 1469-493X UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/32297973/Non_steroidal_anti_inflammatory_drugs_for_acute_low_back_pain_ L2 - https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD013581 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -