“We were surprised that morphine was able to induce these really long-lasting changes,” says Dr. Peter Grace, the study’s lead author. Dr. Grace says the cause of the chronic pain increase has to do with cells that form part of the immune system. He says if those areas could be isolated or their eects reduced, the resulting pain may not be as great. “If it does turn out to be a relevant issue to patients, then what our study suggests is that targeting the immune system may be the key to avoiding these kinds of eects,” Dr. Grace says. “Opioids could essentially work better if we could shut down the immune system in the spinal cord.” e team’s research only looked at spinal cord injuries and morphine, and did not study other opioids that are commonly prescribed to patients experiencing pain. But he said it’s likely drugs like Vicodin or OxyContin could aect other parts of the body in a similar way. “While we haven't actually tested other opioids in this particular paradigm, we predict that we would see similar eects,” Dr. Grace says.
ain relievers are supposed to relieve pain. It sounds simple enough, but new research suggests a common pain medication may actually be prolonging chronic pain. Morphine is an opioid painkiller commonly prescribed in hospitals and clinics, and while it is eective in the short term, doctors don’t always consider the potential consequences for pain down the road.at’s why a team of researchers based out of the University of Colorado - Boulder set out to study how morphine treatment aects chronic pain, and found some troubling results. e team, which used mice with spinal cord injuries, found that in mice not given morphine, their pain thresholds went back to normal about four to ve weeks after the injury. But mice who were given morphine didn’t see their pain levels return to normal until around 10 to 11 weeks, meaning the use of morphine eectively doubled the length of their chronic pain. P
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