Neuropathic Pain Medications – review & metanalysis of 229 studies


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This review was done by many of the best pain specialists from all over the world. You will not find answers in that large review if neuropathic pain has already failed tricyclic antidepressants (Elavil, amitriptyline, Norpramin desipramine, others), gabapentin (Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica), lidocaine, capsaicin, or opioids. That is the current paradigm. A new paradigm – glial modulators  – that I discuss on this site, may or may not give relief.

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A member of the International Association for Study of Pain, IASP, published a brief critique of that comprehensive review of 229 trials of medications for neuropathic pain published in Lancet Neurology February 2015. The critique is posted below, done by a member of the Neuropathic Pain Special Interest Group, NeuPSIG.

 

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To understand the metanalysis of these 229 trials, you need to understand the simple concept of number needed to treat, NNT.

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NNT is an estimate of “the number of patients that need to be treated in order to have an impact on one person.”

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The smaller the number, the more effective the drug. Example, NNT of 7.2 for gabapentin means you need to treat  7.2 people before a response. If 3, need to treat 3 before a response.

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Barsook (Harvard, ref. below) reviewed ketamine studies in 2009:  “they did show a level of efficacy (of ketamine) based on NNT that equals or betters most drug trials for this condition.”

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“NeuPSIG has just published an up to date systematic review on the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy in Lancet Neurology. They have negotiated with the journal to make it available beautifully open access. You can download it for free here.”

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Neil O’Connell, Brunel University London

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“This is a comprehensive review, containing 229 trials of the full range of pharmacological agents using robust methods, to synthesize, summarise and make value judgements about the quality of the available evidence. So what are the take home messages?”

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“Using a primary outcome of achieving at least 50% pain relief trial outcomes were described as “generally modest”. The number of patients needed to treat with the drug compared to a placebo for one more person to achieve this outcome ranged from a relatively rosy 3.6 (95% confidence interval 3 to 4.4) for tricyclic antidepressants such as amitryptiline, 4.3 (95%CI 3.4 to 5.80 for strong opioids to a less impressive 7.2 (95%CI 5.9 to 9.21) for gabapentin, and 7.7 (6.5 to 9.4) for pregabalin (often sold under the brand-name Lyrica). It’s interesting, at least to me, how much better the older more traditional agents seem to have fared compared on effectiveness to the more modern (and commonly more expensive) agents although the safety and tolerability of gabapentin seems superior.”

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“The spectre of publication bias also raises its head. The reviewers carefully took a number of routes to try to unpick this notoriously difficult issue and estimate that there has been overall a 10% overstatement of treatment effects. Published studies reported larger effect sizes than did unpublished studies. This is not a problem restricted to the field of pain trials. It is a burning issue across the world of clinical trials. It is very important because if we fail to base our clinical recommendations on the totality of relevant evidence (because some data are hidden from us) we are in danger of mis-estimating the benefits and the harms and as a result patients are put at risk. If you think that is pretty important then there are ways that you can help. Check out the All-Trials campaign.”

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“Overall what does this mean? Many drugs are effective but not as effective as we would wish them to be. No pharmacological agent really impresses and for any drug the most probable outcome is failure to produce 50% pain relief. There are various potential reasons for this. The first is that the drugs may only be moderately or marginally effective, another is that neuropathic pain includes quite a mixed bag and our ability to accurately diagnose and to target drugs to specific mechanisms in the clinic is currently fairly poor.”

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“The NeuPSIG review team formulate a number of recommendations for revision of their clinical guideline for managing NP pain, balancing the benefits, harms, costs and strength of the evidence.”

  • a strong recommendation for use and proposal as a first-line treatment in neuropathic pain for tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors, pregabalin, and gabapentin;

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    • a weak recommendation for use and proposal as a second line treatment for lidocaine patches, capsaicin high-concentration patches, and tramadol; and a weak recommendation for use and proposal as third line for strong opioids and botulinum toxin A. Topical agents and botulinum toxin A are recommended for peripheral neuropathic pain only.

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“This email [from IASP’s NeuPSIG] is also published as a blogpost at www.bodyinmind.org”

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References

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Finnerup NB, Attal N, Haroutounian S et al. Pharmacotherapy for neuropathic pain in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Neurol. 2015;14:2:162-73.

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Glial modulators – another paradigm

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From my January 2012 brief review of publications on ketamine, only one of a handful of glial modulators, this author says reviews “show a level of efficacy based on NNT that equals or betters most drug trials for this condition.

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Ketamine and chronic pain – Going the distance, David Barsook, Director, P.A.I.N. Group, Massachusetts General, McLean and Children’s Hospitals, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA;

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This paper covers essential points not mentioned by many, thus quoted at length below:

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Our current therapeutic armamentarium is quite limited in terms of analgesic efficacy in controlled trials. Some would argue that the small efficacy (both at a population level and the magnitude of change in VAS score) this is related to the fact that we need to consider mechanistic approaches to chronic pain subgroups. However, patients and clinicians find themselves in a position of “what to do now”.

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Ketamine, brain function and therapeutic effect – neuroprotective or neurotoxic

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With the onset of chronic pain (including CRPS) a number of changes in brain function occur in the human brain including but not limited to: (1) central sensitization ; (2) functional plasticity in chronic pain and in CRPS; (3) gray matter volume loss in CRPS ; (4) chemical alterations ; and (5) altered modulatory controls. Such changes are thought to be in part a result of excitatory amino acid release in chronic pain. Excitatory amino acids are present throughout the brain and are normally involved in neural transmission but may contribute to altered function with excessive release producing increased influx of calcium and potentially neural death. Here lies the conundrum the use of an agent that potentially deleteriously affect neurons that may already be compromised but may also have neuroprotective properties by mechanisms that include reducing phosphorylation of glutamate receptors resulting in decreased glutamatergic synaptic transmission and reduced potential excitotoxicity . Alternatively, ketamine may affect glia regulation of glutamate and inhibit glutamate release within glia. However, by whatever mechanism ketamine acts on CRPS pain, there does seem to be a dose/duration effect in that longer doses at levels tolerated by patients seem to prove more effective in terms of the duration of effects.

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So what could be happening in the brain and what is required to alter brain systems and reverse the symptomatic state? Ketamine may diminish glutamate transmission and “resets” brain circuits, but it seems that a minimal dose and/or duration of treatment is required. Alternatively, ketamine may produce neurotoxicity and damage or produce a chemical lesion of affected neurons. These two issues are important to be understood in future trials. Reports from patients who have had anesthetic doses have included prolonged pain relief for many months. While the authors did not address issues such as the effect of dosing duration or repetitive dosing at say 6weeks, they did show a level of efficacy based on NNT that equals or betters most drug trials for this condition.”

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Conclusions

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As a community we have a major opportunity to define the efficacy and use of a drug that may offer more to CRPS (and perhaps other) patients than is currently available. This is clearly an opportunity that needs urgent attention and a number of questions remain to be answered. For example, is ketamine more effective in early stage disease? How does ketamine provide long-term effects? Further controlled trials evaluating dose, duration, anesthetic vs. non-anesthetic dosing are needed. Few of us really understand what it is like to suffer from a chronic pain condition such as CRPS. Ketamine therapy may be a way forward that can be brought into our clinical practice through further controlled studies that will allow for appropriate standards for use in patients.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice,

diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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Please understand that it is not legal for me to give medical advice without a consultation.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone my office.

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

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Be the change you wish to see – or walk away. Money at NIH


 

 

A Turning Point

 

$$$$$ MONEY $$$$$

 

at NIH

 

May not come this way again

 

NIH developing

5-year NIH-wide Strategic Plan

 

 

 

Donate to organizations, below

They can provide feedback to NIH via the

RFI Submission site


 

 

 

John C. Liebeskind, 1935 – 1997, distinguished scholar and researcher, past president of the American Pain Society, had the radical idea that pain can affect your health.

 

Research decades ago by an Israeli team at UCLA and others had shown “that pain can accelerate the growth of tumors and increase mortality after tumor challenge.” Decades ago Professor Liebeskind lectured all over the country: Pain kills.

 

He wrote an editorial in 1991, summarizing a life’s work:

 

“Pain and stress can inhibit immune function.”

 

 

Quoting John Bonica, the father of modern pain management, he wrote:

 

“Bonica has long argued that the term ‘chronic benign pain’ (used in distinction to pain associated with cancer) is seriously misleading.  Chronic pain is never benign, he contends; “it is a ‘malefic force’ that can devastate its victims’ lives and even lead to suicide.”

 

 

Liebeskind continues, “It appears that the dictum ‘pain does not kill,’ sometimes invoked to justify ignoring pain complaints, may be dangerously wrong.”

 

Pain mediates immune function

 

Importantly

 

  Opioids mediate the suppressive effect of stress on natural killer cells,

 

 published in 1984, immune system.

 

Alcohol increases tumor progression, 1992, immune system.

 

It used to be news.

He did not live to see change.

 

People just want to go on doing what they’re doing.

They want business as usual.

 

 

After 1991, we saw the great discoveries of neuroinflammation, pioneered by Linda Watkins, PhD, the early understanding of the innate immune system, its involvement in chronic pain and depression, and a few weeks ago, a British team showed neuroinflammation in teens with early signs of schizophrenia and DNA markers.

 

 

Major Depression has the same neuro-inflammation found in chronic pain, often responding to same medications, in particular glial modulators – immune modulators. Now, perhaps early schizophrenia will respond to glial modulators, reducing inflammation seen on scan in teens, before they become homeless and burned out by antipsychotic drugs

 

Inflammation out of control destroys neurons

 

Fire on the brain

 

 

We must be the change we wish to see

 

It’s not just the Bern. It’s been starting. Forces are finally coming together. We want change. It’s been too much. Too long.

 

We won’t take it anymore.

 

I figure if I tell you about it, you might just mention it to someone to pass it on. That is all. One small action may lead to change. Activate inputs to the NIH strategic plan.

 

 

~ Action needed ~

 

Prices of drugs becoming unaffordable

No new drugs for pain or major depression

Research to repurpose existing drugs

Expose the politics destroying our compounding pharmacies

 

Above all

The #1

Major Priority:

Request NIH to solicit priority call for research on

Glial modulators of the

Innate immune system

 

 

Why?

 

Glia modulate

chronic pain, major depression

and almost every known disease

 

Glia are your innate immune system

 

Inflammation kills

 

 

 

 Stress kills. Inflammation kills.

 

 

Pain kills

 

In the 1970’s, Professor Liebeskind and an Israeli team at UCLA injected cancer cells to two groups of rats that had sham surgery. Cancer spread much faster and killed far sooner in the group with poor treatment of surgical pain.

 

 

~ Pain kills ~

 

He lectured all over the country

 

Forty five years ago

 

 

I’m gonna be dead before I see this country do anything but unaffordable opioids and the magical ineffective trio of gabapentin, Lyrica, Cymbalta to treat chronic pain. The devastating, blind, nationwide emphasis does nothing to address the cause: inflammation, the innate immune system gone wild.


 

 

Innate immune system in action

 

Untreated pain suppresses the hormone systems too.

 

Untreated depression – same inflammation kills lives.

 

Where’s the money?

 

We are the change we wish to see. It’s pitiful I am so lazy. Suddenly, too late, we may need something, but, aha, no new drugs in the pipeline.

 

 

 

~ Make a joyful cry to NIH ~

 

They are soliciting input from professional societies

 

If your condition has failed all known drugs for pain or major depression, then make a joyful cry to NIH, now, before they give away all that nice new $$$$$money$$$$$.

 

 

Follow and join

 

American Pain Society

 

 

International Association for Pain

celebrating 40 years of pain research

 

 

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association

help for CRPS/RSD  

 

 

 

The key to CRPS/RSD pain will apply to all forms of chronic pain, in particular the most difficult form, neuropathic pain. RSDSA funds research into all forms of chronic pain, not only Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS/RSD). Their scientific board members are not funded by opioid money.

 

 

 

Exactly

what is the annual cost of care

as fraction of GDP

for the growing population of Americans on opioids

for one year, for lifetime?

 

 

People are dying from prescription opioids and those who need them find they don’t work well enough. Prescriptions opioid costs must be a huge fraction of the medical costs in the United States GDP. You are required  to see a doctor every single month each year, often lifelong, just for one opioid, 12 months a year x 30 years x tens of millions of people and increasing – a growth industry. Not even counting $600 a day for the opioid, what the cost of monthly visits for 30 years? Not counting the army of DEA, FDA, CDC agents watching the opioids like a hawk. We all have to be sharp, addiction is growing. Addiction aside, deaths from prescription opioids are shaking up the CDC forcing urgent change this coming month.

 

 

 

Opioids do not work well for chronic pain

We need better

It’s not just the $600/day price

They just don’t work

 

 

donate

 

 

Raise a joyful noise at NIH now or write back at us readers with comments and better suggestions. Tell others what you’d like to see. Which politicians do you know would be most interested in this at national levels and organizations?

 

You may never see this change unless you do it now. Other forces will get this new money.

 

 

Turning point now

May not return

 

 

We are at a turning point and we will fail to catch the sail that’s coming fast to carry all research money in their shiny big stem cell direction. They never look back.

 

 

There is so many medications we can use today, FDA approved drugs that can be re-purposed and applied to recent cutting edge science. Someone must pay to do the work to study this.

 

 

Re-purpose old drugs

 

 

Stanford just showed a popular generic drug improved recovery of stroke paralysis in mice to begin at 3 days rather than 30. Old drug, new purpose, of course more years of testing to confirm in humans. Brilliant team applying new science.

 

 

Request
NIH to solicit a

Special Invitation

for 30 good protocols to

repurpose old drugs

 

 

Hundreds of old drugs, already approved, could be involved in mechanisms we have recently learned about. Speak up or money will go to shiny new stem cells. None for chronic pain or major depression. No company will find this profitable – it must be funded by NIH. A popular generic sleeping pill can bring astonishing return from stroke paralysis.

 

 

Congress has not opened this new money to NIH in many long years. How often will there be extra money?

 

 

donate

 

 

Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Principal Deputy Director, NIH, solicits you to

Review the NIH Strategic Initiative Plan and their

Request for Information (RFI) and the NIH website

and provide your feedback via the RFI Submission site

 

 

This is for “stakeholder organizations (e.g., patient advocacy groups, professional societies) to submit a single response reflective of the views of the organization/membership as a whole. We also will be hosting webinars to gather additional input. These webinars will be held in early to mid-August.

 

 

 

Be the change you wish to see

Donate to those organizations

to solicit the change you wish to be

 

 

 

Happy New Year

Rejoice!

There’s money at NIH

 

 

 

 

 

 

The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

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

Relevant comments are welcome.

If any questions, please schedule an appointment with my office.

This site is not for email.

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

 

 

 

 

Ketamine Pathway for Antidepressant Response – Ventral Hippocampus-Medial Prefrontal Cortex


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Molecular Psychiatry , (1 December 2015) | doi:10.1038/mp.2015.176

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Activation of a ventral hippocampus–medial prefrontal cortex pathway is both necessary and sufficient for an antidepressant response to ketamine

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F R Carreno, J J Donegan, A M Boley, A Shah, M DeGuzman, A Frazer and D J Lodge

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This is an excellent model for studying Alzheimers Dementia and may explain why my patient with Alzheimers has been so stable for so many years. Yale with NIMH had published that ketamine rapidly creates synapses, that led to treating a senior with Alzheimers. This should encourage further research on memory and dementias.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

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

Relevant comments are welcome.

If any questions, please schedule an appointment with my office.

This site is not for email.

~~~~~

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

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Analgesic Response to Ketamine Linked to Circulating microRNA in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome


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Analgesic Response to Intravenous Ketamine

Is Linked to a Circulating microRNA Signature

in Female Patients

With Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

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The ability to measure Micro RNS’s (miRNA) in blood looks like it may become an important tool someday once it is available for the clinic. It could be used to predict if your condition will respond to various medications.

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MicroRNAs are emerging as important modulators of various psychiatric (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder) and neurological conditions including pain, epilepsy, cognitive dysfunction, neuronal development, structure and function. “MicroRNAs are small, non-coding RNAs that act as post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression.  miRNA’s can be affected by morphine and affected by other drugs. It is hoped that complex clinical phenotypes may be profiled in assays of peripheral blood and may predict response to treatment such as in this study. Ketamine is given for selected patients that have failed to respond to standard treatment.

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This research was published in Pain, June 2015, by Professor Schwartzman’s group at Drexel University. Seven of his patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome were ketamine responders and 6 were poor responders. They note that, “Although [ketamine] treatment is generally effective, approximately 30% of patients have an inadequate response to ketamine.”

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“Stability in circulation and dysregulation in disease state are 2 features making extracellular miRNAs useful candidates for biomarker discovery. Alterations in miRNA profiles have been reported for rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus as well as for painful conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, chronic bladder syndrome, endometriosis, and migraine. Cerebrospinal fluid from patients with fibromyalgia showed differential expression of 9 miRNAs.”

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Quoting directly from the article:

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Highlights

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•We studied ketamine treatment–induced miRNA alterations in blood from patients with CRPS.
•Differential miRNA expression was observed in whole blood before and after treatment.
•Before therapy, 33 miRNAs differed between responders and poor responders.
•Lower pretreatment levels of miR-548d-5p may contribute to higher UDP-GT activity.
•Circulating miRNAs can be potential biomarkers in predicting treatment response.

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From the Abstract

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Investigation of the mechanistic significance of hsa-miR-548d-5p downregulation in poor responders showed that this miRNA can downregulate UDP-glucuronosyltransferase UGT1A1 mRNA. Poor responders had a higher conjugated/unconjugated bilirubin ratio, indicating increased UGT1A1 activity. We propose that lower pretreatment levels of miR-548d-5p may result in higher UDP-GT activity, leading to higher levels of inactive glucuronide conjugates, thereby minimizing the therapeutic efficacy of ketamine in poor responders.

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Perspective

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This study suggests the usefulness of circulating miRNAs as potential biomarkers. Assessing miRNA signatures before and after treatment demonstrated miRNA alterations from therapy; differences in miRNA signature in responders and poor responders before therapy indicate prognostic value. Mechanistic studies on altered miRNAs can provide new insights on disease.

 

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From the Discussion

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Ketamine is also considered to be the prototype for a new generation of glutamate- based antidepressants that can alleviate depression within hours of treatment. Several biological measures have been explored to characterize treatment response and to gain insight into mechanisms underlying the rapid antidepressant effects of ketamine. A plasma metabolomics study in patients with bipolar depression suggested that the basal mitochondrial b-oxidation of fatty acids differed between responders and nonresponders to ketamine. Other studies have shown differences in baseline plasma concentrations of D-serine, serum levels of interleukin 6, and plasma levels of Shank3, a postsynaptic density protein involved in NMDA receptor tethering and dendritic spine rearrangement.

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Differences in the ability to metabolize ketamine because of interindividual differences and pharmacogenetic factors have been proposed to contribute to the varied responses to ketamine therapy and its clinical outcome. Similar conclusions have been drawn for patients with depression; plasma from patients with treatment- resistant bipolar depression who had undergone a single 40-minute infusion of a subanesthetic dose of ketamine showed that although NK is an initial metabolite, it is not the major circulating metabolite. This again suggests that other downstream metabolites of ketamine may play a role in the pharmacological effects of the drug. It is also known that (2S,6S)-hydroxynorketamine is an active and selective inhibitor of the a7 subtype of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; this activity was shown to contribute to the pharmacological responses associated with the antidepressant activity of (R,S)-ketamine. We postulate that in patients with CRPS, 1 factor contributing to resistance is an altered pharmacokinetic profile produced by enhanced elimination of active metabolites downstream of NK, which is mediated by hsa-miR-548d-5p. However, because we have relied on indirect evidence of a higher percentage of direct/indirect bilirubin in poor responders, indicating increased UDP-GT enzyme activity, additional studies investigating hydroxynorketamine and its downstream metabolites along with their glucuronide conjugates in plasma and urine will provide direct evidence for the role of miR-548d-5p in mediating response to ketamine therapy in responders and poor responders.

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They noted a significant difference in body weight between responders and nonresponders (heavier), but not in duration of disease and analgesic response to ketamine. Toward that end, they will publish separately upon

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… investigating the link between miR-34a, which showed 28-fold reduction in poor responders relative to responders (Table 2), and the neuroendocrine system….

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From the Conclusion

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Our studies showed that miR-548d-5p can regulate UDP-GT but not CYP3A4, suggesting that UDP-GT activity in responders and poor responders may be mediated by differences in the level of circulating miR-548d-5p. Lower levels of miR-548d-5p in poor responders before treatment could result in higher UDP-GT activity, leading to the production of more inactive glucuronide conjugates and faster elimination of active ketamine metabolites downstream of NK. Thus, the levels of hsa-miR-548d-5p could minimize the therapeutic efficacy of ketamine and pain relief. Differences in miRNA signature can thus provide molecular insights distinguishing responders from poor responders. High failure rates of drugs targeted to treat neuropathic pain warrant changes in approaches. Studies targeting well-defined patient populations for clinical trials will play a crucial in developing drugs that may be efficacious in a subset of patients. Extending this approach to other treatment and outcome assessments might permit stratification of patients for maximal therapeutic outcome.

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How frustrating it is for patients and family who must cope with an intractable condition such as pain or Bipolar Disorder or treatment resistant Major Depression that has failed all commonly prescribed medications. For all of them, we need changes in approach.

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“High failure rates of drugs targeted

to treat neuropathic pain

warrant changes in approaches.”

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Perhaps scientists reading this would comment upon how it may relate to tolerance as it differentially occurs in those receiving intermittent ketamine vs continuous intravenous infusion.

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Dysregulation of miRNA’s has been shown in psychiatric disorders including depression and schozophrenia, neurodevelopmental disorders, cognitive dysfunction,  epilepsy, chronic pain states with implication for the cause and treatment of these disorders.

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Research targeting miRNA’s as novel treatment for depression has shown that chronic fluoxetine, repeated electroconvulsive shock therapy, and acute ketamine have the capacity to alter hippocampal miRNA levels.

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It is hoped these tests may be available someday clinically as the cost of off-label treatment not covered by insurance is a great burden for those already disabled by intractable pain or treatment resistant depression.

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PUBLIC WARNING

warning reprinted with permission of Demitri Papolos, MD
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Ketamine is a controlled substance.
Administered improperly, or without the guidance of a qualified doctor,
Ketamine may cause injury or death.
No attempt should be made to use Ketamine
in the absence of counsel from a qualified doctor.

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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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Ketamine – small doses work in depression and bipolar disorder


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Everyone is very edgy right now with depression. Media is sensationalizing, which is the worst thing to do. I even hesitate to write this now.

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Ketamine really does work

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Small doses may be all that’s needed. Even large doses are safe.

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Two Cases

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I hate to play on emotion that is strong right now, but Robin Williams might be alive today if his doctors prescribed ketamine nasal spray.

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Every one, doctors and patients alike, worry about ketamine. It sells newspaper headlines and distorted media coverage that then overtakes the life saving stories of its profound safety when used under good medical supervision. Experience helps.

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Two cases from yesterday and today really must be shared. These two patients would not be alive today if they did not have ketamine nasal spray for their depression.

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I don’t mean to say every one will respond to these extremely tiny doses, but it’s always exciting to hear the effective dose is simply so small.

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These details would make good case reports if time permitted, but there is never enough time. I wanted simply to say a few things now because these two patients were seen.

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**1**

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In May 2014, saw a fifty-ish woman who is now responding to 20 mg (4 nasal sprays) given as one dose every 48 hours. She has been treated at well known university psychiatry departments, failed ECT 9 or 10 times – memory loss was so bad she got lost in her own neighborhood. Received IV ketamine once or twice weekly for one year before I saw her.

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Diagnoses:  dysthymia as long as she can remember, and 25 years of Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, anxiety, etc. Olympic level athlete —

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**2**

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Second patient now in late teens, Juvenile Bipolar Disorder/Fear of Harm phenotype, profound thermoregulatory changes respond in seconds to ketamine, dose of 10 mg nasal spray every 3 days. That’s it! Temperature responds in seconds, and the depression responds in 10 minutes in her case. She was so violent before treatment that she had been hospitalized 7 times in 2-1/2 years. Doing very very well. And the low dose naltrexone, by the way, is involved in thermoregulation.

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I should mention, no side effects whatsoever. I have never seen toxicity. I watch kidney and bladder function meticulously, and patients with massive pain on very high doses have never had any organ toxicity.

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NEURO-INFLAMMATION AND GLIA – brain on fire.

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I mention Olympic athlete because so many people I see with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome – the pain that so often leads to suicide, seems to occur more often in top level athletes, either state or national level, professional or sponsored in their teens. Yes, they occur in others, but there is a striking predominance in athletes for unknown reasons.

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Glia are triggered by trauma, then they become activated and produce pro-inflammatory cytokines. Inflammation is out of balance. Ketamine profoundly reduces the pro-inflammatory cytokines, and so does low dose naltrexone. I write about these mechanisms with more frequency that anything else. This is what we must address – the brain is essentially “on fire.” And this inflammation, these pro-inflammatory cytokines, are involved in almost every known disease: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, chronic pain, major depressive disorder, cancer, autoimmune disease, and atheroscloerosis.

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Inflammation kills. Unfortunately this new research on glia and inflammatory diseases, these diseases could be called gliopathies, all based on new research since the turn of the century. We now know glia are your innate immune system in brain and spinal cord. They need a balance the anti-inflammatory cytokines with the pro-inflammatory cytokines. Inflammation may be lifesaving when you have caught a virus, but not as a steady diet. Give the brain a break or it leads to hyperexcitable glutamate that triggers calcium flooding into the neuron, cell death, brain atrophy and memory loss. Seen in people with Major Depression and those with chronic low back pain.

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Do doctors know about the innate immune system? or the receptor that won the Nobel Prize 2 and 1/2 years ago? or glia?

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Answer: no.

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Papolos et al have published Clinical experience using intranasal ketamine in the treatment of pediatric bipolar disorder/fear of harm phenotype

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Ketamine administration was associated with a substantial reduction in measures of mania, fear of harm and aggression. Significant improvement was observed in mood, anxiety and behavioral symptoms, attention/executive functions, insomnia, parasomnias and sleep inertia. Treatment was generally well-tolerated.

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Dr. Papolos’ video on treatment points out, ketamine nasal spray is off-label

for Bipolar Disorder. And I add, ketamine is off-label for pain and for major depression.

He posts this:

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PUBLIC WARNING

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Public Warning: Ketamine is a controlled substance.

Administered improperly, or without the guidance of a qualified doctor,

Ketamine may cause injury or death.

No attempt should be made to use Ketamine

in the absence of counsel from a qualified doctor.

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“Off label” means it is FDA approved for another purpose, but he prescribes it for Juvenile Bipolar Disorder. I would add that in qualified hands, ketamine is one of the safest medications we have in our formulary.

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More later, as time permits.

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PUBLIC WARNING

reprinted with permission of Demitri Papolos, MD
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Ketamine is a controlled substance.
Administered improperly, or without the guidance of a qualified doctor,
Ketamine may cause injury or death.
No attempt should be made to use Ketamine
in the absence of counsel from a qualified doctor..

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice,

diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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Please understand that it is not legal for me

to give medical advice without a consultation.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone my office.

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

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Ketamine Nasal Spray for Major Depression – The First Randomized Controlled Trial


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A Randomized Controlled Trial of Intranasal Ketamine in Major Depressive Disorder

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Psychiatrists from Mt. Sinai in New York this month have published the first randomized controlled trial of intranasal ketamine showing it is safe, well tolerated, and rapidly effective in treating symptoms of depression in persons with Major Depressive Disorder.

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This is a small study of 18 patients with treatment resistant depression showing a significant antidepressant effect occurred as early as 40 minutes in some. 44% responded after 24 hours compared to 6% placebo. Ketamine was significantly different from placebo at 40 minutes, 240 minutes, and 48 hours, but not separable from placebo at 72 hours or 7 days thought they were still better. And ketamine was significant at improving anxiety symptoms at 24 hours. There were no clinically significant changes in heart rate or blood pressure and all changes resolved in four hours. “No serious adverse events occurred.”

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“Intranasal ketamine was well tolerated with only very minimal increases in dissociation, psychosis-like symptoms or hemodynamic parameters.” They felt these very minimal behavioral side effects and insignificant changes in blood pressure and pulse were consistent with the lower blood levels of ketamine compared to the higher doses used in studies of IV ketamine. Bioavailability via intranasal route is reported to range from 25% to 50%.

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Their sample had an average of 4.1 ± 3.9 treatment failures, compared to 5.7 and 5.1 in previous studies – those required a minimum of 2 to 3 treatment failures to enroll. Other clinical characteristics did not differ including “duration of illness, length of current depressive episode, and history of ECT.” They allowed ongoing treatment of psychotropic medication.

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They chose a 50 mg dose based on a previous study and on the dose used in persons with a chronic pain disorder (Daniel Carr, et al 2004). It is a lower dose than the 0.5 mg/kg dosage commonly given intravenously. They point out one limitation of the study was the use of the single dose and a standardized protocol, which did not allow them to study optimal dosing. Future study is needed to address optimal dosing, relapse prevention and scheduling of treatment.

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The minimal side effects shown in their study correlates well with my experience. I find the effective dose of ketamine is idiosyncratic. That means it is unpredictable and specific only to that individual. Large males may need only the smallest dose, and tiny elderly females may require far higher doses. That may account for the higher response rate that I believe I am seeing, however, I have not tracked percentage of responders. I have not seen toxicity in years of prescribing either for intractable pain or treatment resistant depression. Importantly, in my opinion, relapse prevention must address not only different neurotransmitters but also neuroinflammation, pro-inflammatory cytokines.

 

 

 

 

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

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

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

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Ketamine Inhaler – Bipolar Child NPR – Review of Ketamine for Depression


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NPR reported yesterday on the beneficial effects of ketamine for depression, this time reporting on a ketamine inhaler prescribed by Demitri Papolos, MD.

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Dr. Papolos is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Director of Research of the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation.

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He “is one of a handful of psychiatrists in the world who began to see and to speak out about the possible deleterious effects of antidepressants and stimulants in the population of children within the bipolar spectrum.”

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This NPR report described a syndrome Dr. Papolos has identified of Bipolar children & adolescents consumed by fear. They described a boy who had extreme attacks of rage for decades, and horrific violent nightmares.

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The boy had attempted suicide at age 5. He was hospitalized in a psychiatric unit at age 12 and strapped down in a padded room, terrified. He failed many medications for years, some made him worse, and he was literally never able to complete a meal at table with the family without flying off in a rage or someone leaving.

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in 2010, the boy tried Dr. “Papolos’ ketamine treatment. He says he’ll remember the day for the rest of his life. ‘I think we did two puffs, and I remember I sat up and I just started laughing,’ he says. Then his mother picks up the story: ‘You said you had an internal feeling of calm that you had never had before in your life. And when we came home that night, that was the first night that we ever all had dinner at the table without somebody leaving.'”

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This boy, George McCann, now at age 22 is finally able to begin a more normal life. He needs the medication only every third day. “Papolos has treated about 60 young people with ketamine so far and says all but two have had dramatic responses.”

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“The number of patients treated so far is small, and the approach is so new it hasn’t been tested by other researchers yet. Papolos says he’s hoping a study he published late last year will help persuade other researchers to try the drug on other children.”

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“In the meantime, George McCann continues to inhale a prescribed dose of ketamine every third day. The fear and anger that once dominated his life are gone, he says, adding that his mind is free now to work….”

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The relief with ketamine from the prison of mood disorders is deeply important. Severe mood disorders such as Major Depression and Bipolar Disorder can destroy the lives of patients and their loved ones. At worst, they can be lethal.

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A review of published cases of intravenous ketamine for depression asks : “Ketamine for depression: where do we go from here?

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I think the answer is we need to simplify the method of treatment using inhaled ketamine and begin to give their lives back to the patients we see. It is one of the safest medications I have ever prescribed. It does not cause weight gain or loss. It does not cause sexual dysfunction. And although it may increase sedation when used in combination with other sedating medications, at the low doses needed to treat mood disorders, I do not see ketamine interfere with other medication.

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Ketamine can relieve depression from one second to the next. And this young man needs the medication every third day. Is that too much to ask to gain a life?

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for

medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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Please understand that it is not legal for me to give medical advice without a consultation.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone my office or contact your local psychiatrist.

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

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Painkiller Efficacy in 2010 Less Than in 2000


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This research shows efficacy of analgesics decreasing since 2000.

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“The evidence for pharmacological treatment of neuropathic pain” publication is a good meta-analysis of the current state of evidence-based treatment of neuropathic pain.

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I have quoted extensively from the article as it is important.

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“Abstract: One hundred and seventy-four studies were included, representing a 66% increase in published randomized, placebo-controlled trials in the last 5 years. Painful poly-neuropathy (most often due to diabetes) was examined in 69 studies, postherpetic neuralgia in 23, while peripheral nerve injury, central pain, HIV neuropathy, and trigeminal neuralgia were less often studied. Tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors, the anticonvulsants gabapentin and pregabalin, and opioids are the drug classes for which there is the best evidence for a clinical relevant effect. Despite a 66% increase in published trials only a limited improvement of neuropathic pain treatment has been obtained. A large proportion of neuropathic pain patients are left with insufficient pain relief. This fact calls for other treatment options to target chronic neuropathic pain. Large-scale drug trials that aim to identify possible subgroups of patients who are likely to respond to specific drugs are needed to test the hypothesis that a mechanism-based classification may help improve treatment of the individual patients.”

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~The bla

The black circles are recent circles, the light circles are from the past. Shift to the right means less effect.

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“Fig. 1. It shows the combined numbers needed to treat (NNT) values for various drug classes in all central and peripheral neuropathic pain conditions (not including trigeminal neuralgia). The figure illustrates the change from 2005 values in light grey to 2010 values in dark grey.  [emphasis mine]The circle sizes indicate the relative number of patients who received active treatment drugs in trials for which dichotomous data were available. Please note that the differences in study design and the patient populations preclude a direct comparison of NNT values across drug classes (see text). BTX-A: botulinum toxin type A; TCAs: tricyclic antidepressants; SNRIs: serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors; SSRIs: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.”

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“Fig. 2. It shows the combined numbers needed to treat (NNT) values for different drug classes against specific disease etiologies. The symbol sizes indicate the relative number of patients who received active treatment drugs in the trials for which dichotomous data were available.”

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 A disease-based classification: fact or fiction?

“Since (1) there are no clear indications that specific diseases should be treated with specific treatments, (2) symptoms and signs overlap in various neuropathic pain conditions [6], and (3) currently available drugs act with unspecific neurodepressant actions rather on pivotal pathophysiological mechanisms, at present there is no good rationale for a treatment algorithm that discriminates between underlying etiologies [45]. Nevertheless, the vast majority of trials have been done in painful diabetic neuropathy and PHN and few, if any, in certain other conditions (e.g. Guillain–Barré syndrome and small-fiber neuropathy), and recommending a treatment for other conditions may seem to be an unjustified jump.”

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“Supplementary Figure 1L’Abbé plot showing pain relief for all drugs for different neuropathic pain conditions. Each point illustrates one comparison against placebo (for trials listed in Supplementary Table 1). The axes indicate the percentage of patients with at least 50% pain relief with active and placebo treatment.© 2010 International Association for the Study of Pain”

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Conclusion

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“Pharmacological treatment still represents the main option for treating chronic neuropathic pain. Our understanding of neuropathic pain-generating mechanisms has grown considerably within the last few decades, but unfortunately this research has not been matched by a similar improvement in treatment efficacy. We are still limited in our efforts in managing neuropathic pain by relying on treating the symptoms of pain rather than identifying the underlying disease mechanisms causing the pain. Although 69 new randomized controlled trials have been published in the past 5years compared with 105 published trials published in the preceding 39years, only a marginal improvement in the treatment of the patients with neuropathic pain has been achieved.”

© 2010 International Association for the Study of Pain

The study is part of the European project, funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only,

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

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For My Home Page, click here: 

Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Ketamine Intranasal for Rapid Relief of Pain and Depression


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Poorly managed pain can evolve into chronic disease of the nervous system

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Ketamine is an important analgesic, more important than opioids. It can dramatically reduce pain, and rapidly relieve depression and PTSD.  Please read my earlier posts here and here. And the NPR report here just after I posted this (skip to their last section). Yes, it is FDA approved and legal. One woman said:

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 ‘It was almost immediate, the sense of calmness and relaxation.

‘No more fogginess. No more heaviness. I feel like I’m a clean slate right now. I want to go home and see friends or, you know, go to the grocery store and cook the family dinner.’

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NPR again reports ketamine’s rapid relief of depression. A 28 year old man whose refractory depression began at age 15, after ketamine, says:

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‘I Wanted To Live Life’

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Stephens himself has vivid memories of the day he got ketamine. It was a Monday morning and he woke up feeling really bad, he says. His mood was still dark when doctors put in an IV and delivered the drug.”Monday afternoon I felt like a completely different person,” he says. “I woke up Tuesday morning and I said, ‘Wow, there’s stuff I want to do today.’ And I woke up Wednesday morning and Thursday morning and I actually wanted to do things. I wanted to live life.”.
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Since then, they treated him with Riluzole that is FDA approved for ALS and has one of the dirtiest side effect profiles I have ever seen in medicine with serious organ toxicity. Ketamine rarely causes mild transient side effects, usually none. It appears the concern is how ketamine is used on the street with potential for abuse. I do not see ketamine abuse in my patients, some of whom are on opioids for pain or Valium family medicines from their psychiatrist. All of those have a greater potential for abuse, also not occurring in my patients. Pain and/or depression can lead to suicide.
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About 18 months ago, researchers at Yale found a possible explanation for ketamine’s effectiveness. It seems to affect the glutamate system in a way that causes brain cells to form new connections.
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Researchers have long suspected that stress and depression weaken some connections among brain cells. Ketamine appears to reverse the process.

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It would be of interest to see a case report of the bladder problems they mention. Is this in a single drug addict who used many unknown medications on the street? Several physicians have infused IV ketamine for persons with pain for many years, in far higher doses than I prescribe, with no report of any but transient minor symptoms.

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David Barsook’s 2009 review, reference below, describes changes that cause memory loss and brain atrophy with chronic pain, in particular, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), and they also occur with chronic depression:

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With the onset of chronic pain (including CRPS) a number of changes in brain function occur in the human brain including but not limited to: (1) central sensitization ; (2) functional plasticity in chronic pain and in CRPS; (3) gray matter volume loss in CRPS ; (4) chemical alterations; and (5) altered modulatory controls. Such changes are thought to be in part a result of excitatory amino acid release in chronic pain. Excitatory amino acids are present throughout the brain and are normally involved in neural transmission but may contribute to altered function with excessive release producing increased influx of calcium and potentially neural death.

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Brain atrophy and memory loss has also been shown in chronic low back pain as well as in chronic depression.

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Barriers to management of chronic pain are many:

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Although opioids are effective for acute pain, effective treatment of chronic pain is often daunting, particularly neuropathic pain.

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Opioids have been shown to create pain causing imbalance in the glial cytokines that favor pain rather than relief of pain. Opioids carry the risk of opioid-induced hyperalgesia which is a severe pain sensitivity. They affect the brain and endocrine system. Opioids may fail to offer significant relief, fail to improve function, and risk misuse, abuse, diversion and death. Their costs are astronomic, insurance coverage is increasingly limited, the potential for complications may be life threatening in a hectic medical setting, side effects can be lethal, lack of physician training in use of opioids and alternatives to pain control lead to increasing deaths, addiction and diversion. It has become a national emergency and a trillion dollar war on drugs.

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Complications can be greatly reduced through use of a scrupulous history and physical examination, but reimbursement is directly proportional to the shortest time spent with a patient. Will that help assessment and care?

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Individuals may have dramatically different responses to opioid therapy; some may not tolerate any, and relief must be balanced with side effects that increase as the dose increases. Patient status may change and require IV, rectal or tube delivery instead of oral formulas; drug-drug interactions may require rapid changes, and disease of kidney, liver or brain may require modifications or stopping altogether. They may increase risk of falls and cause central sleep apnea with drop in oxygen because the brain fails to give a signal to breathe.

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Chronic pain can lead to loss of sleep, hopelessness, depression, anger and other mood disorders such as panic, anxiety, hypochondriasis and post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]. Treatment of mood disorders are shown to profoundly reduce pain perception and/or ability to cope with pain.

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Ketamine is anti-inflammatory and can reduce the need for opioid use, thus reducing the pain and side effects caused by opioids.

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Nasal ketamine is more effective than oral ketamine for pain relief; oral dosing has no effect on depression.

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Nasal delivery of ketamine is now possible due to advances in metered nasal sprayers that deliver a precise dose. No needle is required, no IV access, no travel to a specialist needed.

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You can carry pain relief with you and use it as directed when it is needed.

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Ketamine is an NMDA antagonist: it antagonizes the NMDA receptor which plays a profound role in pain systems and centralization of pain.

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Ketamine is neuroprotective and it can help other disease states as noted by Barsook, 2009:

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Besides improvement in pain, “there may be lessons from other diseases that affect the brain; it is noteworthy that acute ketamine doses seem to reverse depression and ketamine decreased prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers receiving ketamine during their surgery for treatment of their burns. In addition ketamine attenuates post-operative cognitive dysfunction following cardiac surgery that has been known to produce significant changes in cognition. [emphasis mine] The data suggest that the drug can alter or prevent other conditions based on its NMDAR activity where other drugs NMDA receptor antagonists are perhaps not as effective in these or pain conditions. Lastly, NMDA antagonists have been used in degenerative disease (and pain may be considered a degenerative disease as defined by loss of gray matter volume, see above) with mixed effects perhaps relating to how they act on specific NMDA subtypes. Taken together, ketamine may act not only on sensory systems affecting pain intensity, but also on a constellation of brain regions that are involved in the pain phentype. [sic, phenotype]”

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Side Effects

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Ketamine is more frequently used in babies and children than in adults because high doses of ketamine can induce hallucinations in the adult. Importantly, it is used in high dose in adults for treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

Low doses, cause little or no side effects in adults. If present, they are transient and often resolve in 20 minutes. Patient who respond to ketamine report good acceptance as they find the relief of pain and/or depression far outweighs any short term minimal discomfort.

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Pain care reform is urgently needed.

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Research funding for pain is less than half of one percent of the NIH budget. More research is needed, but research on low dose ketamine for treatment of pain and depression has gone on for twenty years.

The public health crisis of untreated pain, which often results in disability, parallels the country’s struggle to halt the cost of health care. The longer a person remains with untreated pain, the less likely they are to return to work or to be employable.

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Conclusion

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Pain control requires urgent attention. It is past time to put into practice the use of this valuable medication so people can get on with life instead of being mired in chronic pain that for many risks suicide and ensures continuing decades of disability. Academic studies are usually limited by defining a predetermined dose rather than clinically titrating to effect. Thus no surprise, they find no effect as every patient will have no response until they reach their dose. And that dose, in my experience, falls into a bell shaped curve. One size does not fit all. Some respond at very low dose, others require much more, and the majority fall between.

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In my experience prescribing ketamine for ten years, only a rare person has problems. Almost all find it has returned function or significantly relieved pain. Some have been able to entirely eliminate opioids that did nothing for their pain for decades, though they dutifully returned to the MD every month to chronicle that pain. Pain continued to be rated ten on a scale of ten; patient always compliant despite side effects of constipation and often depression. My patients find the benefits of nasal ketamine far outweigh the relief of oral ketamine and at much lower doses with fewer side effects.

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Further, while the pain relief may be short lived, some find it gets better with repeat dosing, and relief of depression may last one to two weeks with a single dose.

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References

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http://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/10/1028.asp  Ketamine suppresses intestinal NF-kappa B activation and proinflammatory cytokine in endotoxic rats.

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CONCLUSION: Ketamine can suppress endotoxin-induced production of proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-a and IL-6 production in the intestine. This suppressive effect may act through inhibiting NF-kappa B.

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http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1080/J354v16n03_03  Ketamine as an Analgesic Parenteral, Oral, Rectal, Subcutaneous, Transdermal and Intranasal Administration

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Ketamine is a parenteral anesthetic agent that provides analgesic activity at sub-anesthetic doses. It is an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist with opioid receptor activity. Controlled studies and case reports on ketamine demonstrate efficacy in neuropathic and nociceptive pain. Because ketamine is a phencyclidine analogue, it has some of the psychological adverse effects found with that hallucinogen, especially in adults. Therefore, ketamine is not routinely used as an anesthetic in adult patients. It is a frequently used veterinary anesthetic, and is used more frequently in children than in adults. The psychotomimetic effects have prompted the DEA to classify ketamine as a Schedule III Controlled Substance. A review of the literature documents the analgesic use of ketamine by anesthesiologists and pain specialists in patients who have been refractory to standard analgesic medication regimens. Most reports demonstrate no or mild psychotomimetic effects when ketamine is dosed at sub-anesthetic doses. Patients who respond to ketamine tend to demonstrate dramatic pain relief that obviates the desire to stop treatment due to psychotomimetic effects (including hallucinations and extracorporeal experiences). Ketamine is approved by the FDA for intravenous and intramuscular administration. Use of this drug by the oral, intranasal, transdermal, rectal, and subcutaneous routes has been reported with analgesic efficacy in treating nociceptive and neuropathic pain.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15109503  Safety and efficacy of intranasal ketamine for the treatment of breakthrough pain in patients with chronic pain: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study  Daniel Carr, et al, 2004
Crossover, 20 patients. Ketamine reduced breakthrough pain within 10min of dosing, lasting up to 60min
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15288418  Safety and efficacy of intranasal ketamine in a mixed population with chronic pain
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The intranasal route for ketamine administration has been applied only for pain of dressing changes in a single case study (Kulbe, 1998). In this patient, oxycodone and acetaminophen were ineffective to control pain during burn dressing changes in a 96-year-old woman cared for at home. She tolerated the burn dressing changes after three intranasal sprays of 0.1 ml each, in rapid succession, each containing 5 mg ketamine (15 mg total) (Kulbe, 1998).
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http://www.acutepainjournal.com/article/S1366-0071%2807%2900167-2/abstract  Safety and efficacy of intranasal ketamine for acute postoperative pain
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Ketamine delivered intranasally was well tolerated. Statistically significant analgesia, superior to placebo, was observed with the highest dose tested, 50 mg, over a 3 h period. Rapid onset of analgesia was reported (<10 min), and meaningful pain relief was achieved within 15 min of the 50 mg dose. The majority of adverse events were mild/weak and transient. No untoward effects were observed on vital signs, pulse oximetry, and nasal examination. At the doses tested, no significant dissociative effects were evident using the Side Effects Rating Scale for Dissociative Anaesthetics.
The safety profile following treatment with ketamine was comparable to that seen with placebo.
Although patients did report side effects of fatigue, dizziness and feelings of unreality more often following treatment with ketamine than following treatment with placebo, no patient reported hallucinations and the side effects were generally reported to be of mild or moderate severity, and transient. No serious adverse events were reported and the incidences of associated adverse events were comparable for ketamine and placebo. Although study medication was administered intranasally, nasal signs and symptoms were few and inconsequential. A distinctive taste, however, was reported more often following treatment with ketamine than following treatment with placebo.In conclusion this randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study, in 20 patients, has demonstrated that intranasal ketamine is safe and effective for BTP [breakthrough pain]. Our findings augment an early but promising literature documenting the effectiveness of nasal administration of a variety of opioids for pain management in adults (Dale et al., 2002) .
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~http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2875542/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2875542/  Ketamine and chronic pain – Going the distance, David Barsook, 2009

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This important paper covers essential points not mentioned by many, thus quoted at length below:

“Ketamine, brain function and therapeutic effect – neuroprotective or neurotoxic

With the onset of chronic pain (including CRPS) a number of changes in brain function occur in the human brain including but not limited to: (1) central sensitization ; (2) functional plasticity in chronic pain and in CRPS; (3) gray matter volume loss in CRPS ; (4) chemical alterations ; and (5) altered modulatory controls. Such changes are thought to be in part a result of excitatory amino acid release in chronic pain. Excitatory amino acids are present throughout the brain and are normally involved in neural transmission but may contribute to altered function with excessive release producing increased influx of calcium and potentially neural death. Here lies the conundrum the use of an agent that potentially deleteriously affect neurons that may already be compromised but may also have neuroprotective properties by mechanisms that include reducing phosphorylation of glutamate receptors resulting in decreased glutamatergic synaptic transmission and reduced potential excitotoxicity . Alternatively, ketamine may affect glia regulation of glutamate and inhibit glutamate release within glia. However, by whatever mechanism ketamine acts on CRPS pain, there does seem to be a dose/duration effect in that longer doses at levels tolerated by patients seem to prove more effective in terms of the duration of effects.

So what could be happening in the brain and what is required to alter brain systems and reverse the symptomatic state? Ketamine may diminish glutamate transmission and “resets” brain circuits, but it seems that a minimal dose and/or duration of treatment is required. Alternatively, ketamine may produce neurotoxicity and damage or produce a chemical lesion of affected neurons. These two issues are important to be understood in future trials. Reports from patients who have had anesthetic doses have included prolonged pain relief for many months. While the authors did not address issues such as the effect of dosing duration or repetitive dosing at say 6weeks, they did show a level of efficacy based on NNT that equals or betters most drug trials for this condition.”

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“Conclusions

As a community we have a major opportunity to define the efficacy and use of a drug that may offer more to CRPS (and perhaps other) patients than is currently available. This is clearly an opportunity that needs urgent attention and a number of questions remain to be answered. For example, is ketamine more effective in early stage disease? How does ketamine provide long-term effects? Further controlled trials evaluating dose, duration, anesthetic vs. non-anesthetic dosing are needed. Few of us really understand what it is like to suffer from a chronic pain condition such as CRPS. Ketamine therapy may be a way forward that can be brought into our clinical practice through further controlled studies that will allow for appropriate standards for use in patients.”

 

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice,
diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.
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Please understand that it is not legal for me to give medical advice without a consultation.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone my office or contact your local psychiatrist.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!
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“Heavy NSAID Use Linked to Higher Dementia Risk” – Exercise, Antidepressants Both Help Neurogenesis


NSAIDs are anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat pain, inflammation, or fever.  The only NSAIDs that are NOT associated with increased risk of heart attack or arrhythmia are naproxen (Aleve) or aspirin.  Taking high doses of aspirin has a greater risk of GI bleed than naproxen, which is why I usually recommend naproxen.

Background:

Several past studies have shown NSAIDs delay or prevent dementia, but there have been contradictory results.  Last year Neurology published a study of 49,349 patients’ usage ranging from ≤1 year to ≥7 years done at Boston University and Bedford VA. They showed long term use of NSAIDs protects against Alzheimers:

Compared with no NSAID use, the relative risk of Alzheimer’s disease decreased from 0.98 for ≤1 year of use (95% CI 0.95 to 1.00) to 0.76 for >5 years of use (95% CI 0.68 to 0.85).

Among patients who specifically cited use of ibuprofen, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease declined from 1.03 (95% CI 1.00 to 1.06) to 0.56 (95% CI 0.42 to 0.75).

Ibuprofen came out ahead in that study perhaps because it is the most commonly used.

They also sought to answer whether NSAIDs known to suppress Aβ1-42 amyloid would more likely protect .  Aβ1-42 amyloid is a major component of plaques found in Alzheimer’s Disease.

Aβ1-42 amyloid suppressors include ibuprofen, diclofenac, flurbiprofen — but as for suppressing Alzheimer’s, these were found to be no different than other NSAIDs, putting that theory to rest.


methusala-tree

Risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease with prior exposure to NSAIDs in an elderly community-based cohort:

This new study by Breitner  et al, from the University of Washington School of Medicine was published online April 22, 2009, before the print edition in Neurology.  

Their outcome contradicts earlier protective studies possibly because they started with an older cohort, healthy adults 65 and older, which “could be enriched for cases [of Alzheimer’s] that would otherwise have appeared earlier.”

They prospectively followed 2,736 persons in a Seattle health plan.  Before starting the study, they reviewed pharmacy records as much as 17 years earlier.

Findings:

12.8% of the study participants [were] heavy NSAID users at baseline. Heavy use was defined as taking 500 or more standard daily doses over a two-year period.

Another 3.9% of participants became heavy users during follow-up.

Ibuprofen, naproxen, indomethacin, and sulindac accounted for about 80% of all NSAIDs used.

Through follow-up, 476 participants developed dementia; for 356 of them, it was Alzheimer’s disease.

After controlling for age, gender, education, APOE status, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, osteoarthritis, and physical activity, the risk of developing all-cause dementia was 66% higher among heavy users than among those with little or no NSAID use (HR 1.66, 95% CI 1.24 to 2.24).

The risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease was 57% higher (HR 1.57, 95% CI 1.10 to 2.23).

Strengths of the study: the community-based sample, biennial assessment of dementia, rigorous exposure classification, and large numbers of dementia cases, outweigh the limitations.

Limitations:  lack of generalizability to a younger patient population, the lack of exact dosing information, and the possibility of bias from unmeasured confounders.

Can we draw conclusions on one study alone? We know that exercise is protective against Alzheimer’s Disease and pain may have prevented this older age group from being active. Though they did control for that, this research needs to be supported by further studies. What is helpful is to remain as active as you can.  Keep and maintain every bit of function you can and get help for depression and anxiety as they may profoundly affect memory, morbidity and mortality.  For a review of the literature on the morbidity and mortality of stress and mood, refer to my post on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the importance of a positive outlook.

The brain makes new neurons – neurogenesis.  I will write more in the future on exercise, mood, stress, brain atrophy and memory loss.   Exercise improves depression and anxiety, and exercise stimulates neurogenesis.  It appears that the action of antidepressants also may be to stimulate neurogenesis.  Chronic low back pain has been reported to cause brain atrophy.  Chronic depression leads to brain atrophy and memory loss with atrophy occurring in the hippocampus, the area essential for memory.  This important publication from Vancouver reviews the topic in great detail and proposes a hypothesis:  Antidepressant effects of exercise: Evidence for an adult-neurogenesis hypothesis?

Further medication is being tested to reduce neuronal cell death that leads to Alzheimer’s Disease, using a very simple compound that blocks free radicals and inflammation.  More on this later.

The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and

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

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