To prove the efficacy of mexiletine in painful diabetic neuropathy.
Treatment was provided in three dosages. For pain measurements, a VAS and McGill's verbal rating scale were chosen. Ninety-five patients were included in the study.
A global assessment of the VAS among patients showed no differences between mexiletine treatment and placebo. The total evaluation (PRIT) of the McGill scale fell just below the level of significance. More specific exploratory evaluations of subclasses of the McGill scale, representing different degrees of pain, gave remarkable differences between mexiletine and placebo in sensory and miscellaneous items. In special subgroups, which were formed according to types and courses of complaints compiled at the beginning of this evaluation, the substantial advantages of the mexiletine treatment were shown with both the VAS and the McGill scale.
Evidence strongly indicates that, in particular, those patients with stabbing or burning pain, heat sensations, or formication will benefit most by mexiletine therapy. Concerning the dosage, a medium regimen of 450 mg/day seems to be appropriate. With an increase in the antiarryhthmic dosage level, the efficacy does not rise proportionally. Mexiletine proved to be a safe therapy with negligible side effects at the medium dose range, even < placebo; and remarkably, no cardiovascular side effects were noted. Further studies should avoid global assessments and pay more attention to the variety of complaints and quality of life.