Exploring opioid deaths in chronic pain patients

Research has found that over half of patients who died from an opioid overdose had been diagnosed with chronic pain and many had psychiatric disorders. The study was conducted by researchers at Columbia University. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the number of opioid-related deaths has quadrupled in recent years, from 8,048 in 1999, to 33,091 in 2015, and the researchers were interested in learning more about what lead those patients to take opioids. The researchers analyzed clinical diagnoses and filled medication prescriptions for 13,089 adults in the Medicaid program who died of an opioid overdose from data collected between 2001 and 2007. During the last year of life, more than half of these adults (61.5%) had been diagnosed with chronic pain and many had also been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. This included 59.3% who were diagnosed with … Read more

Target specific brain cells to help with neuropathic pain

Researchers from Rutgers University have explored treating chronic neuropathic pain which affects over 1 million Americans. Neuropathic pain results when nerve damage is caused due to injury, surgery or a some disease. Researchers showed that pain could be reduced in animals when microglia brain cells are targeted which are supposed to provide immunity. The researchers say that the microglia brain cells are supposed to be beneficial to the nervous system but in those with neuropathic pain these cells known as microglia have proliferated and instead become toxic. The researchers say that if they catch the injury within one to five days to inhibit microglia after nerve injury the development of chronic pain can be partially reversed. Neuropathic pain persists after the nerve has healed and is often resistant to normal pain medications. In lab mice the researchers used chemotherapy drugs to prohibit the microglia brain immune … Read more

Electric Stimulation of Brain Releases Powerful Painkiller

Researchers have been exploring delivering electricity through sensors on the skulls of chronic migraine patients and have found a decrease in the intensity of pain of their headaches. A recent study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry has shown that when electricity is sent to certain regions in the brain of a patient with chronic, severe facial pain it releases an opiate-like substance and powerful painkiller. In the study, researchers administered a radiotracer that reached important brain areas in a patient with trigeminal neuropathic pain. They then applied electrodes and electrically stimulated the skull right above the motor cortex  for 20 minutes during a PET scan which is known as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). The radiotracer was designed to measure the local brain release of mu-opioid, a natural substance that alters pain perception. The researchers argue that this is the … Read more