Medications denied for pain today – Celebrex, Skelaxin, Morphine, Oxycodone, Methadone, Suboxone


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Happy New Year. Medications are denied for pain one month after you sign onto new insurance based on medications they cover:

 

Celebrex, a generic NSAID, less risk of GI bleed which is an increased in seniors day by day as we age.

 

Skelaxone, generic muscle relaxant

 

Lorzone, muscle relaxant

 

Morphine 30 mg ER, generic, denied 3 per day, well within CDC guidelines

 

Methadone 10 mg 3/day, well within CDC guidelines

 

Oxycodone 5 mg 3/day, well within CDC guidelines

 

Suboxone generic,  FDA approved for addiction in US but not for pain; approved for pain and for addiction in EU.

 

Does insurance cover cost of medication?

 

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Pain’s mill wheel – Rabindranath Tagore


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SICKBED 5, by RABINDRANATH TAGORE  

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November 4, 1940
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Under this vast universe
pain’s mill wheel rotates,
grinds planets and stars to powder.
Sparks flash, scatter
suffering on every side,
ash-webs from annihilated worlds
permeating in an instant.
In the mills of oppression,
in cells of luminous consciousness,
pikes and knives clank,
wound-blood spurts.
The tiny human body—
infinite, its power to face pain.
In the assembly of creation and annihilation,
this small vessel of blood
offered to the Tantric circle
reels, drunken, rapturous.
The clay cup of the body fills
with incoherent blood, floods with tears.
Every moment unfolds unending
worth to consciousness, invincible.
The body’s pain-hallowed fire,
the offering sacrificed to ascetic acts of stars,
is incomparable.
Such enduring vigor,
compassion without fear,
indifference to death,
such triumphant processions:
assemblies trampling beds of flame
to find pain’s limits—
on a fevered, unnamed pilgrimage,
together, from path to path,
penetrating caves of fire, to find care’s origins,
provisions of unending love.

First Published in The Kenyon Review, Volume 23 #2

(Spring 2001)
http://www.kenyonreview.org/roth

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Opioids: a think tank to expose the deep-rooted failures and injustices in our health care system


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STAT is “a new national publication focused on finding and telling compelling stories about health, medicine, and scientific discovery” in partnership with the Lown Institute.

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“The Lown Institute is a think tank dedicated to research and public communication to expose the deep-rooted failures and injustices in our health care system, and to helping clinicians, patients, and communities develop a shared vision for a better health system.”

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.“Since 2012, the Lown Institute has been a leading voice in the movement to recognize the harms of overuse of medical care, and in pointing out the clear connection between wasteful medical treatment and our system’s failure to deliver needed care.”

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This article from STAT, excerpted below, beautifully and painfully describes the opposing sides of the deep divide in our country about treatment with opioid analgesics for chronic pain. It is a divide deeper than the growing upheaval of politics in America, and it is unique to us. The United States, with 5% of the world’s population, consumes 80% of the global opioid supply, and an estimated 99% of hydrocodone. “Pain drugs are the second-largest pharmaceutical class globally, after cancer medicines.”

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I have seen both sides, those who cannot live or function without opioids and those whose pain improves radically once they taper off. The war on patients plays out many times daily, while patients and doctors alike are deeply concerned at the lack of research in this volatile unpredictable field, where patients are subjected to whack-a-dose prescriptions since the March 2016 CDC fiat that dictated slashed opioid dosages, a dictate that now entitles insurers to deny all medication overnight —saving them tremendous costs. All denied, no matter how small the dose, nor how intense the diagnoses and pain.

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This irrational, inhumane, and unpredictable disease of change has become a constant, destroying lives of patients and caregivers while addicts continue to overdose evermore and prisons are filled with low level street corner dealers —never the rich who buy their way out of prison. Cheating is a way of life for corporations, condoned by congress.

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A ‘civil war’ over painkillers rips apart the medical community — and leaves patients in fear

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PALO ALTO, Calif. — For Thomas P. Yacoe, the word is “terrifying.”

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Leah Hemberry describes it as “constant fear.”

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For Michael Tausig Jr., the terror is “beyond description.”

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All three are patients struggling with chronic pain, but what they are describing is not physical agony but a war inside the medical community that is threatening their access to painkillers — and, by extension, their work, their relationships, and their sanity.

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Two years after the United States saw a record 27,000 deaths involving prescription opioid medications and heroin, doctors and regulators are sharply restricting access to drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin. But as the pendulum swings in the other direction, many patients who genuinely need drugs to manage their pain say they are being left behind.

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Doctors can’t agree on how to help them.

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There’s a civil war in the pain community [my emphasis],” said Dr. Daniel B. Carr, president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. “One group believes the primary goal of pain treatment is curtailing opioid prescribing. The other group looks at the disability, the human suffering, the expense of chronic pain.”

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Pain specialists say there is little civil about this war.

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“There’s almost a McCarthyism on this, that’s silencing so many people who are simply scared,” said Dr. Sean Mackey, who oversees Stanford University’s pain management program.

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“The thing is, we all want black and white. We don’t do well with nuance. And this is an incredibly nuanced issue.”

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Stanford’s Mackey said those risks are important to recognize. But, he said, nearly 15,000 people die a year from anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. “People aren’t talking about that,” he said….

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…Dr. Anna Lembke, who practices alongside Mackey at Stanford’s pain clinic and is chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic, published a book about the opioid crisis last year. It was titled: “Drug Dealer, MD: How Doctors Were Duped, Patients Got Hooked, and Why It’s So Hard to Stop.

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Lembke believes that long-term opioid use can cause patients to perceive pain even after the original cause of pain has cleared. Some patients, she said, find themselves free of pain only once they have endured the often agonizing effects of opioid withdrawal.

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“That’s what we’re seeing again and again,” she said.

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…. a single father of two teens, said that every month he needs to fill a prescription, he’s fearful it will be denied.

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Mackey says doctors being trained at Stanford’s pain center have grown increasingly fearful about prescribing opioids...

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[Dr. Mackey describes a practicing 81 year old physician who cycled to work until recent back surgery. His life is now complicated by severe back pain and he requires opioids to continue to function.]

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“If you’re 81 and you stop getting out of bed, it’s a slippery slope,” he said.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.
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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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This site is not for email and not for appointments.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone the office to schedule.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please IGNORE THE ADS BELOW. They are not from me.

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Microbiome, Metabolome & Disease


 

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Many of us have followed the research in this field for health, happiness and well-being. Today’s questions and answers from an expert on microbiota in Reddit Science is of great interest and something I wanted on these pages for future reference. I sifted through the pages to condense the questions, leaving answers intact. AMA is short for Ask Me Anything. Where Professor Barrett’s  responses to questions are clear, I have omitted the questions; where not clear, questions are abbreviated and/or added. I am sure we would all like much more information on inflammation and the inflammasome, the gut and brain and health. Support science. Be careful of low quality journals and quackery. She says even some yogurts have no bacteria.

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Science AMA Series: I’m Kim Barrett, Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego and Editor of The Journal of Physiology. This week, we published an issue on the microbiota [editorial free], so I thought it would be a great opportunity to discuss how our microbes influence our well being. AMA!

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This is her main message, again and again:

[–]Kim_Barrett

Eat a well-balanced diet, including cultured/fermented foods, and avoid excessive fat and processed carbohydrates..

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[–]Kim_Barrett

Thanks to both. There is a lot of epidemiological evidence for the health benefits of all of these fermented foods, which may deliver bacteria similar to probiotics as well as beneficial metabolites that have greater bioavailabilty. These foods have been consumed by humans for millennia but were less prevalent in the diet as society discovered refrigeration etc. But studies to actually prove efficacy and mechanisms of action remain in their infancy. This is an area where the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is placing a lot of emphasis for research funding.

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Q Nose/sinuses:

[–]Kim_Barrett

Yes, this is a less appreciated area but rapidly growing area of study. I definitely would encourage you to look at our special issue of the Journal of Physiology, which has short reviews on the oral, skin and vaginal microbiota. Our external cavities all have their own distinctive microbiotas, but in aggregate they may encode many of the same sorts of metabolic capacities as seen in the gut. The specific populations may also depend on the type of environment – for example, the bugs on your forearm are different from those on your forehead. Lots more work to be done.

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there is not a simple way currently of knowing about our microbiota’s composition, but general indices of gut health may give some clues. Likewise, finding effective probiotics may be a bit of a case of trial-and-error, but there is good epidemiological evidence for a beneficial effect of fermented foods like Kombucha.

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Q on IBS:

[–]Kim_Barrett 

Serotonin is a major controller of gut motility and sensation, and alterations in serotonin signaling have been documented in irritable bowel syndrome. The cells that make serotonin in the gut have been shown to express receptors for short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are major products of bacterial metabolism of undigested carbohydrates. Finally, some gut bacteria metabolize the serotonin precursoe, tryptophan, which in turn has implications for the production of appropriate gut levels of serotonin.

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Q:  Sometimes, when I am constipated, I can perceive a certain taste and smell that arrives internally. Have direct nerve connections between the bowel and the brain been identified? What role to microbiota play in perception of satiety? What is the importance of the neurological phenomenon vs the blood chemistry in controlling weight gain or loss?

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[–]Kim_Barrett 

Lots of nerve connections between the brain and gut, and gut nerve endings have been shown to sense bacterial metabolites. To the extent that the microbiota and their metabolites control the secretion of GI hormones, they clearly participate in satiety perception, but this still needs further study. And weight gain/loss is such a complex phenomenon, also encompassing societal and behavioral aspects, that the relative contributions of the factors you mention have not been worked out by any means.

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Good and bad may be too simplistic. A “good” bacteria may be bad for you if in the wrong place. As for substrates and products, this is probably too big of a topic to tackle right now, but I would direct you to the work of Eugene Chang at the University of Chicago who has done a lot of work in this area. Gut permeability is also clearly important. We have done work to show that certain commensal and probiotic species can tighten the gut barrier so that pathogens and toxic metabolites are less able to penetrate and initiate inappropriate inflammatory reactions and a vicious cycle of further weakening of the gut barrier.

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Q   Strong evidence correlates aberrations in gut diversity with certain diseases. Phylogentitcally speaking, it seems to matter more that the microbiome is diverse and less important which species are specifically there. The hypothesis being that the gut microbial metabolome is relatively stable, regardless of specific species present. http://go.nature.com/2iQLOu1

Q1 – Have clinicians started to take the next step, looking at disease correlations with perturbation of the microbial metabolome?

Q2 – If so, what have they found? Do probiotics replace those missing metabolic pathways?

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[–]Kim_Barrett 

Absolutely agree with your comments about the metabolome. However, most of this work at present is still in preclinical models, although there has been a lot of attention to the way in which metabolic pathways change after bariatric surgery, for example.

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Q:

When I was very young, I had a few instances of food poisoning visiting family in Mexico, I even contacted tuberculosis. I, of course, was given many antibiotics. I’ve had a lot of digestive issues since then, it was always a problem. I’m 36 now, and adopted a very low carb diet 3 years ago. During the initial transition, I had, to put it succinctly, severe dhiarrea. Like stuff was probably dieing off. And then, 4 months in, I had more energy, metal alertness, and general feeling of being present. And I no longer had crippling depression. From a completely anecdotal standpoint, I think that changing my diet also drastically changed my gut biome, and that, in turn, actually effected my brain function. It seems like what you’re research has shown is that this isn’t some woo-woo thinking, but an actual thing?

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Q does Kefir boost gut bacteria?

[–]Kim_Barrett

Yes, along with other related foods.

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Q are we discovering new categories of bacteria in the body?

[–]Kim_Barrett 

This was a big sticking point in the field initially since many of the bacteria cannot be cultured. Now they are identified by sequencing. The estimate is that healthy individuals harbor at least 1000 different species. Not to mention viruses, fungi, protea….we’re just getting started, and as you imply, the bioinformatics challenges are huge.

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[–]Kim_Barrett 

There’s quite a bit of evidence that mixtures of different bacteria are more effective than single bacteria. Perhaps they have complementary metabolic functions, or mutually help each other to colonize the gut.

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Q  research of healthy bacteria for auto immune disease?  Crohn’s disease?

[–]Kim_Barrett

Others are exploring a role in asthma.

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Q: studies in which obese mice had received gut flora from lean mice and subsequently lost weight, and vice versa. Does this imply that a microbial treatment for obesity in humans could be developed, and if so, is there any interest in this?

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[–]Kim_Barrett 

A lot of people are looking for just such a treatment!

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.
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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

~~
This site is not for email and not for appointments.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone the office to schedule.

~~~~~

For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please IGNORE THE ADS BELOW. They are not from me.

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Ambien helps recovery after stroke in mice, Stanford


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On December 18, Stanford reported:

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Stroke recovery in mice improved by Ambien

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Zolpidem, better known by the trade name Ambien, increased the rate at which mice that had strokes recovered their pre-stroke sensory acuity and motor coordination.

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This must now be verified in humans. Rodent studies cannot be translated to humans, and all too often fail to help.

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There are three publications on the use of zolpidem for persistent vegetative state.

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Drug induced arousal from the permanent vegetative state

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Of interest, I have recently seen two unusual responses to Ambien.

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One man who underwent a repeat knee replacement in the same knee within a short time after the first. He feels severe pain and spasm around the knee and has developed severe depression. The only medication he has found to relieve the spasm is 5 mg Ambien twice daily.

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Another patient developed severe personality changes with agitation, rocking the body in bed. In less than 20 minutes, after Ambien, she was perfectly normal, quiet, relaxed, calm.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.
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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

~~
This site is not for email and not for appointments.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone the office to schedule.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please IGNORE THE ADS BELOW. They are not from me.

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Caffeine May Reduce Age-Related Inflammation, Stanford Aging Study


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Caffeine may be able to reduce inflammation.

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Inflammatory immune molecules increase as we age and are associated with mortality from all causes, Alzheimer’s disease, stiffening of arteries, hypertension and cardiac disease. Inflammation kills. Yesterday Stanford and colleagues from University of Bordeaux published results of a long term aging study of 114 patients in Nature Medicine (paywall):

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Expression of specific inflammasome gene modules stratifies older individuals into two extreme clinical and immunological states

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For nonscientists, see below. Caffeine may block inflammation. Adenosine and adenine are known to stimulate the inflammasome. Caffeine blocks the effect of adenosine.

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“They found that older people between the ages of 60 and 89 tend to ramp up production of immune molecules in a complex called the inflammasome. That’s a clump of immune proteins inside cells that activate one of the immune system’s big guns, called interleukin 1 beta or IL-1B. It’s an important molecule for fighting off infection, but too much of it for too long has been linked with chronic diseases like heart diseasecancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Among the older people in the study, 12 of them made much more of these inflammatory molecules, and 11 people made much less. The less-inflamed group was also healthier, with lower blood pressure, more flexible arteries, and more relatives who lived past age 90.

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They also had lower levels of the breakdown products of DNA and RNA circulating in their blood, including one molecule called adenine, and another called adenosine — which is adenine attached to a sugar molecule. These molecules are known to stimulate the inflammasome, and lower levels of them could explain why this group was less inflamed. In fact, treating cells with these breakdown products made them churn out more inflammatory molecules, and made mice more inflamed, with higher blood pressure.

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HIGHER BLOOD LEVELS OF CAFFEINE CORRELATED WITH LESS INFLAMMATION

That’s where the caffeine comes in. Caffeine is known to block the effects of adenosine in the brain — that’s how scientists think it keeps us awake. So, the researchers suspected that it’s possible that it could block the effects of adenine and adenosine on immune cells, too, and reduce their ability to cause inflammation. According to a questionnaire, people in the less inflamed group consumed more caffeinated beverages like coffee, soda, and tea. In fact, higher blood levels of caffeine and other caffeine breakdown products correlated with lower production of inflammatory molecules like IL-1B.

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When the scientists treated cells with adenine and another molecule known to trigger the inflammasome, the cells that were soaking in caffeine produced far lower levels of inflammatory molecules. The researchers still haven’t fully explained how caffeine is interfering with inflammation. And the results aren’t enough to base any behavioral recommendations off of; but it’s comforting news for those of us who were already reaching for that second hit of caffeine, anyways.”

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Many articles on pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α are found in the setting of chronic pain and in depression:

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IL-1β is an essential mediator of the antineurogenic and anhedonic effects of stress.

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Depressed rodents shown to have inflammation, published by Yale and NIMH a few years ago.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.
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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

~~
This site is not for email and not for appointments.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone the office to schedule.

~~~~~

For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please IGNORE THE ADS BELOW. They are not from me.

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Heroin Addiction absent or rare in UK prescribing


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Diamorphine (heroin) is prescribed for pain in the UK . Yesterday’s LA Times Op-Ed

What’s really causing the prescription drug crisis?

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Studies show addiction to opioids of any kind, even heroin, is rare in the UK. Not what we see in the US. They have more socialized care for housing, medical care, medications including for the jobless. They do not have the hopelessness that leads to desperation and addiction. Desperation is why all patients with chronic pain must work with a psychologist. Pain is not in your head, but desperation is, and a psychologist can help you learn tools to deal with desperation. If you don’t, pain will go up, up, up and that’s what’s in your head. Unless you use those tools, I promise you will suffer because it will get worse and worse and worse.

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“Doctors in many parts of the world — including Canada and some European countries — prescribe more powerful opiates than their peers in the United States. In England, if, say, you get hit by a car, you may be given diamorphine (the medical name for heroin) to manage your pain. Some people take it for long periods. If what we’ve been told is right, they should become addicted in huge numbers.

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But this doesn’t occur. The Canadian physician Gabor Maté argues in his book “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” that studies examining the medicinal use of narcotics for pain relief find no significant risk of addiction. I’ve talked with doctors in Canada and Europe about this very issue. They say it’s vanishingly rare for a patient given diamorphine or a comparably strong painkiller in a hospital setting to develop an addiction.

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Given that really powerful opiates do not appear to systematically cause addiction when administered by doctors, we should doubt that milder ones do. In fact only 1 in 130 prescriptions for an opiate such as Oxycontin or Percocet in the United States results in addiction, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Heath.

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So what’s really happening? The second, clashing story goes, again, crudely, like this: Opiate use is climbing because people feel more distressed and disconnected, and are turning to anesthetics to cope with their psychological pain.

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Addiction rates are not spread evenly across the United States, as you would expect if chemical hooks were the primary cause. On the contrary, addiction is soaring in areas such as the Rust Belt, the South Bronx and the forgotten towns of New England, where people there say they are lonelier and more insecure than they have been in living memory.”

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Healthcare costs in the US are a very serious problem. Opioids require monthly visits. Patients on opioids are forced to see a pain specialist, many for decades when pain is chronic. That’s bad enough, but the cost of opioid medications are outrageous. I know some whose opioids cost $17,000 per month or more. And some doctors in my area have mandated urine drug tests every single month, $750 per test, to prove you are not taking street drugs. High risk patients and nonaddicts alike, every month, just to pee in a cup and get your prescription opioid. 

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Now congress is getting rid of the ACA, to make it better. I can only imagine how helpful they have been. Privatize social security, privatize medicare, privatize everything. Of course that will be better for them. Will it help anyone else? 

 

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.
.
It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

.
It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

~~
This site is not for email and not for appointments.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone the office to schedule.

~~~~~

For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please IGNORE THE ADS BELOW. They are not from me.

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