University of Colorado research: New liability arises with ongoing painkiller use

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

A three-month research from the University of Colorado at Boulder recently exposed a new liability regarding narcotic painkiller treatment.

The short-term practice of pain-killer treatment can lead to chronic pain which can actually be more intense than the original pain for which the medicine was intended for as what was discovered by senior researchers, Science Daily reported.

Using rats in their study, CU-Boulder Assistant Research Professor Peter Grace and Distinguished Professor Linda Watkins discovered that painkillers, varying between morphine to Vicodin, encouraged a long-lasting chronic pain after the treatments which lasted for about five days.

Grace pointed out that in their research they were initially presenting the long-term negative effects of opioids use, that even in just a transitory period of treatment; the medication itself highly influenced chronic pain.

The reason for this long-drawn-out pain is that the treatment exaggerates the discharge of pain signals from the immune cells located in the spinal cords of the studied rats. If a specific rat had a nerve injury this will immediately send a message coming from the nerve cells to the spinal cord.

Upon the administration of morphine, this only prompted the cells to go into a "frenzied mode" thus setting off what they call a "cascade of actions" wherein spinal cord inflammation is one of the byproducts.

Additional test results are being called for on whether the painkiller treatment, will bring out the same response in humans, as the scientific experiment on rats is the foremost discovery to display such a consequence. It has also been found out that glial cells that distinguish opioids, those supportive cells in the central nervous system, can have their receptors blocked by a drug called DREADD, UPI mentioned.

A journal on this study was made available in the May 30 edition of  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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