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An update on the drug treatment of neuropathic pain. Part 1: antidepressants

Neuropathic pain refers to pain that arises as a direct consequence of a lesion or disease affecting the somatosensory nervous system.1 Many cases of neuropathic pain run a chronic course, and treatment may be difficult because commonly used analgesics, including NSAIDs and to some extent opioids, are often ineffective. In addition, the use of other pharmacological treatments can be limited by unwanted effects. Management requires a multidisciplinary approach and may involve the use of drug therapy (including antidepressants, anticonvulsants and opioids) with non-pharmacological interventions (including psychological therapies, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and interventional procedures). This month and next month we review the drug treatment of neuropathic pain. In this first part we discuss neuropathic pain and the use of antidepressants.

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