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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Molecular Pain

Volume 12, November 2016, pii: 1744806916678627.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1177/1744806916678627. Copyright © Schnitzer et al.


BACKGROUND: Few effective pharmacological treatment options exist for chronic back pain, the leading cause of disability in the US, and all are associated with significant adverse effects.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the efficacy and safety of D-cycloserine, a partial agonist to the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor, in the treatment of chronic low back pain.

METHODS: A total of 41 participants with chronic back pain who met all inclusion and exclusion criteria were enrolled in a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized pilot trial of D-cycloserine. Treatment was administered orally for six weeks at escalating daily doses of 100 mg, 200 mg, and 400 mg, each for two weeks. The primary outcome measure was back pain intensity using the Numeric Rating Scale (0-10). Secondary measures were back pain-related questionnaires: McGill Pain Questionnaire short form, painDETECT, PANAS, and BDI. The pre-specified analysis was a two-way repeated measures analysis of variance.

RESULTS: A treatment difference was observed between groups treated with D-cycloserine and placebo at six weeks of 1.05 ± 3.1 units on the Numeric Rating Scale, with an effect size of 0.4 and p = 0.14. This trend of better chronic back pain relief with D-cycloserine was also observed in the secondary measures. No safety issues were seen.

CONCLUSION: The difference in mean pain between the D-cycloserine and placebo groups did not reach statistical significance. However, a clinically meaningful effect size in the magnitude of pain relief was observed with a consistent pattern across multiple outcome measures with good safety, supporting further research into the effectiveness of D-cycloserine for chronic back pain.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License

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