Background Acute low back pain (LBP) is a common complaint in the emergency department and achieving effective analgesia can be challenging.
Methods In this multicentre randomised double-blind clinical trial conducted at three EDs in Iran from August to November 2020, we assessed the efficacy and adverse effects of two muscle relaxants in patients aged 18 years or older who suffered LBP in the last 6 weeks. Group 1 received intravenous methocarbamol and group 2 received intravenous diazepam followed by a weight-based dose of intravenous morphine in both groups. Exclusion criteria mainly included non-spine aetiologies, cord compression, acute gastrointestinal bleeding, renal/hepatic insufficiency, pregnancy, breast feeding and unstable vital signs. Pain scores and adverse events were measured by a Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) at baseline and after 30 and 60 min by one of the researchers who was not involved with patient visits and was blinded to the intervention. We used t-test to assess the mean difference of NRS at 30 and 60 min.
Results Out of 101 enrolled patients, 50 participants received methocarbamol and 51 diazepam. The baseline mean pain scores and demographic characteristics were not different between the study groups. Pain scores were reduced by both agents after 60 min, with slightly greater pain reductions in the diazepam group in comparison with methocarbamol (mean difference −6.1, 95% CI −6.5 to −5.7 vs mean difference −5.2, 95% CI –5.7 to −4.7, respectively, p<0.001). ED length of stay of patients did not differ between the groups (methocarbamol 5.9 vs diazepam 4.8 hours, p=0.365). Patients receiving diazepam were more likely to report drowsiness (2 (4.0%) vs 15 (29.4%), p=0.001).
Conclusions In patients with LBP, the pain was relieved in the methocarbamol and diazepam groups after 60 min. Although diazepam was more effective, its use was associated with a slightly higher risk of drowsiness.
Trial registration number The protocol of this clinical trial was prospectively registered in the irct.ir (IRCTID: IRCT20151113025025N4; https://irct.ir/trial/50148) .
- acute care
Data availability statement
Data are available on reasonable request.
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