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QUESTION: In patients with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), are any treatments effective in reducing pain or disability?
Studies were identified by searching Medline (1966 to October 2000) and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Registry with the terms postherpetic neuralgia, neuropathy, and pain; searching Current Contents, bibliographies of relevant studies, and the US Food and Drug Administration web site; and contacting authors and content experts.
English language studies were selected if they were full reports of randomised controlled trials that included patients with PHN (history of herpes zoster, pain in the dermatomal distribution of the zoster rash, and pain persisting after resolution of the rash) and addressed relevant outcomes (pain resolution, pain severity, or quality of life).
2 reviewers independently reviewed trials for quality and extracted data on patient age and duration of PHN, type of treatment, treatment dosage and duration, results, and adverse effects.
27 trials were included. 6 trials evaluated topical treatments (follow up of 2 d to 6 wk). Of 2 trials that compared a lidocaine patch with placebo, 1 showed no difference and 1 showed …
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