Analgesic efficacy of tramadol in cats with naturally occurring osteoarthritis

METHODS: Twenty cats were included after clinical examination, blood work and full body radiographs were performed. In Phase 1, outcome assessments aimed to differentiate normal (n = 5; i.e. exempt of any radiographic and clinical sign of OA) from OA (n = 15) cats. In Phase 2, OA cats were treated twice daily with a placebo (PG: cornstarch 15 mg) or tramadol (TG: 3 mg/kg) orally for 19 days, with a 3-month washout period between treatments. Evaluations were performed in normal and OA cats at baseline and consisted of: 1) peak vertical force (PVF) after staircase exercise; 2) telemetered night-time motor activity (NMA); and 3) response to mechanical temporal summation (RMTS). After treatment, PVF, NMA and RMTS evaluations were repeated in OA cats. Data were analysed with mixed model methods with an alpha-threshold of 5%.

RESULTS: Phase 1: 1) PVF (% of body weight; mean ± SD) was higher in normal (59 ± 10.5) than in OA cats (50.6 ± 5.7) (p = 0.005); 2) NMA (no unit) was not different between groups; 3) RMTS (number of stimuli; median (range)) was higher in normal [29.5 (23.5-30)] than in OA cats [14 (8.5-28)] (p < 0.0001). Phase 2: PVF, NMA and RMTS presented a treatment effect (p = 0.024, p = 0.008 and p = 0.018, respectively). No clinically important adverse-effects were observed.

CONCLUSION: Outcome assessments such as kinetics (PVF) and evaluation of central sensitisation (RMTS) are discriminant of OA status. Mobility measured by NMA was not discriminant of OA status, however it increased in OA cats with tramadol treatment. Nociceptive hypersensitivity quantified by RMTS was evident in OA cats and was responsive to tramadol treatment.

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