original abstract†Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
BACKGROUND: The use of muscle relaxants in the management of non-specific low back pain is controversial. It is not clear if they are effective, and concerns have been raised about the potential adverse effects involved.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this review was to determine if muscle relaxants are effective in the treatment of non-specific low back pain.
SEARCH STRATEGY: A computer-assisted search of the Cochrane Library (Issue 2, 2002), MEDLINE (1966 up to October 2001) and EMBASE (1988 up to October 2001) was carried out. These databases were searched using the algorithm recommended by the Cochrane Back Review Group. References cited in the identified articles and other relevant literature were screened.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised and/or double-blinded controlled trials, involving patients diagnosed with non-specific low back pain, treated with muscle relaxants as monotherapy or in combination with other therapeutic modalities, were included for review.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers independently carried out the methodological quality assessment and data extraction of the trials. The analysis comprised not only a quantitative analysis (statistical pooling) but also a qualitative analysis ("best evidence synthesis"). This involved the appraisal of the strength of evidence for various conclusions using a rating system based on the quality and outcomes of the studies included. Evidence was classified as "strong", "moderate", "limited", "conflicting" or "no" evidence.
MAIN RESULTS: Thirty trials met the inclusion criteria. Twenty-three trials (77%) were of high quality, 24 trials (80%) were on acute low back pain. Four trials studied benzodiazepines, 11 non-benzodiazepines and two antispasticity muscle relaxants in comparison with placebo. Results showed that there is strong evidence that any of these muscle relaxants are more effective than placebo for patients with acute LBP on short-term pain relief. The pooled RR for non-benzodiazepines versus placebo after two to four days was 0.80 [95% CI; 0.71 to 0.89] for pain relief and 0.49 [95% CI; 0.25 to 0.95] for global efficacy. Adverse events, however, with a relative risk of 1.50 [95% CI; 1.14 to 1.98] were significantly more prevalent in patients receiving muscle relaxants and especially the central nervous system adverse effects (RR 2.04; 95% CI; 1.23 to 3.37). The various muscle relaxants were found to be similar in performance.
REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: Muscle relaxants are effective in the management of non-specific low back pain, but the adverse effects require that they be used with caution. Trials are needed that evaluate if muscle relaxants are more effective than analgesics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
These four articles on PainScience.com cite van Tulder 2003 as a source:
- Save Yourself from Low Back Pain! — Low back pain myths debunked and all your treatment options reviewed
- Complete Guide to Headaches — Detailed, readable, science-based self-help for tension headaches and other common musculoskeletal headaches
- Save Yourself from Neck Pain! — A complete guide to chronic neck pain and the disturbing sensation of a “crick”
- Frozen Shoulder Guide — An extremely detailed & readable guide to one of the strangest of all common musculoskeletal problems, for both patients and pros
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Effectiveness of customised foot orthoses for Achilles tendinopathy: a randomised controlled trial. Munteanu 2015 Br J Sports Med.
- A Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis of the power pose effect with informed and default priors: the case of felt power. Gronau 2017 Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology.
- The neck and headaches. Bogduk 2014 Neurol Clin.
- Agreement of self-reported items and clinically assessed nerve root involvement (or sciatica) in a primary care setting. Konstantinou 2012 Eur Spine J.
- Effect of NSAIDs on Recovery From Acute Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Morelli 2017 Am J Sports Med.