Low Dose Naltrexone for Pain


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From NPR: 

In Tiny Doses, An Addiction Medication Moonlights As A Treatment For Chronic Pain

 

Alex Smith

 

Lori Pinkley, a 50-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., has struggled with puzzling chronic pain since she was 15.

 

She’s had endless disappointing visits with doctors. Some said they couldn’t help her. Others diagnosed her with everything from fibromyalgia to lipedema to the rare Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

 

Pinkley has taken opioids a few times after surgeries but says they never helped her underlying pain.

 

“I hate opioids with a passion,” Pinkley says. “An absolute passion.”

 

Recently, she joined a growing group of patients using an outside-the-box remedy: naltrexone. It is usually used to treat addiction, in a pill form for alcohol and as a pill or a monthly shot for opioids.

 

As the medical establishment tries to do a huge U-turn after two disastrous decades of pushing long-term opioid use for chronic pain, scientists have been struggling to develop safe, effective alternatives.

 

When naltrexone is used to treat addiction in pill form, it’s prescribed at 50 mg, but chronic-pain patients say it helps their pain at doses of less than a tenth of that.

 

Low-dose naltrexone has lurked for years on the fringes of medicine, but its zealous advocates worry that it may be stuck there. Naltrexone, which can be produced generically, is not even manufactured at the low doses that seem to be best for pain patients.

 

Instead, patients go to compounding pharmacies or resort to DIY methods — YouTube videos and online support groups show people how to turn 50 mg pills into a low liquid dose.

 

Some doctors prescribe it off-label even though it’s not FDA-approved for pain.

 

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For discussion of mechanism and case reports of the remarkable efficacy of this anti-inflammatory medication, use search function top left above small photo. Thankfully his insurer is covering the cost of the compounded capsules.

 
 
 
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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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For My Home Page, click here:  

Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Opioids increase risk of chronic pain – potentiate pain – faster, stronger, longer. Activate TLR4 receptor on microglia, blocked by low dose naltrexone (LDN)


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Professor Linda Watkins was the distinguished keynote speaker at the May 2015 American Pain Society annual meeting and gave the NIH 2015 Kreshover Lecture:

“Targeting Glia to Treat Chronic Pain: Moving from Concept to Clinical Trials.”

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The University of Colorado at Boulder describes her work

She has authored or co-authored over 190 book chapters, review articles and journal articles.

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Dr. Watkins’ research focuses on 3 inter-related areas. Her primary research interest is understanding how to control clinically relevant pathological pain states. Her group’s research points to a novel reason that clinical pain has been impossible to successfully control. That is, pathological pain is being created and maintained by a surprising cell type, namely glia. These cells, upon activation, dysregulate normal pain processing by the spinal cord neurons.

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Medical News Today published news of her recent study April 19, 2018

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“Opioids may increase risk of chronic pain.” They potentiate pain “faster, stronger, longer” and activate the TLR4 receptor on microglia. That receptor is blocked by low dose naltrexone (LDN).

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Opioids trigger inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. This is an elegant study by renowned Prof. Linda Watkins at the University of Colorado Boulder, with Peter Grace. His early work on LDN brought him from Australia to postdoc at her lab and now research at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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“Having been used in one form or another for millennia, opioids beat pain into submission, quickly making the patient more comfortable. The latest study, which was carried out at the University of Colorado Boulder, turns this firmly held notion on its head.

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Senior author Prof. Linda Watkins, from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, says, ominously, “[…] there is another dark side of opiates that many people don’t suspect.”

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In this case, it is not addiciton issues that Prof. Watkins is referring to. Paradoxically, opioids may actually prolong pain following surgery. The results were published recently in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia.

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Postsurgical pain and opioids examined

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For the study, Prof. Watkins and colleague Peter Grace, of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, carried out laparotomies on male mice. This procedure involves making an incision through the abdominal wall to access the interior of the abdomen, and it is done on tens of thousands of U.S. individuals each year.

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“Opiates are really effective for acute pain relief. There is no drug that works better. But very little research has been done to look at what it is doing in the weeks to months after it’s withdrawn.”

Peter Grace

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Following surgery, one group of rats received the equivalent of a moderate dose of morphine for the next 7 days, while another group received morphine for 8 days, and the dosage was tapered off by day 10.

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Another group was given morphine for 10 days, after which point treatment stopped abruptly. A final group was given saline injections rather than morphine as a control.

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And, in another experiment, a group of rats received a 7-day course of morphine that ended 1 week before surgery was carried out.

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Before the morphine regimes commenced, and after they had been completed, the rats’ sensitivity to touch was measured, as was the activity of genes related to inflammation in the spinal cord.

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Compared with rats given saline, those that received morphine endured postoperative pain for over 3 additional weeks. Also, the longer the morphine was provided, the longer the rats’ pain lasted.

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The study also revealed that tapering of morphine dosage makes no difference. As Grace explains, “This tells us that this is not a phenomenon related to opioid withdrawal, which we know can cause pain. Something else is going on here.”

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How can morphine raise postoperative pain?

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The next question to ask, of course, is what drives this counterintuitive effect. Prof. Watkins calls it the result of a “one-two hit” on glial cells.

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In the brain, glial cells are more numerous than neurons. They protect and support nerve cells and, as part of their role as protector, they direct the brain’s immune response, including inflammation.

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The first “hit” occurs when surgery activates glial cells’ toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). Prof. Watkins calls these “not me, not right, not O.K.” receptors; they help to orchestrate the inflammatory response. This first hit primes them for action when the second hit occurs.

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The second hit is morphine, which also stimulates TLR4. As Prof. Watkins explains:

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“With that second hit, the primed glial cells respond faster, stronger, and longer than before, creating a much more enduring state of inflammation and sometimes local tissue damage.”

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Although the study is in an animal model and will need replicating in humans, it does line up with previous findings.

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For instance, in 2016, the same scientists published another animal study, which found that a few days of opiate treatment for peripheral nerve pain exacerbated and prolonged pain. In that study, the activation of inflammatory pathways was also implicated.

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“An unusually high number of people end up with postoperative chronic pain,” explains Prof. Watkins. In fact, millions of U.S. individualssuffer with chronic pain. “This new study lends insight into one explanation for that.”

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Interestingly, the rats that received a course of morphine that ended a week before surgery did not experience prolonged postsurgical pain, leading the study authors to conclude that there is “a critical window for morphine potentiation of pain.”

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Because opioids are currently considered the best course of action to deal with postoperative pain, if these results are replicated in humans, it leaves medical science in a difficult situation.

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This is why Prof. Watkins is focusing much of her energy on designing drugs that could be given alongside opioids to dampen down the inflammatory response. She is also exploring alternative painkillers, such as cannabinoids.”

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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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Comments are welcome.

This site is not for email, not for medical questions, and not for appointments.

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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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Best wishes to all!


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Naltrexone in Low Dose Reduces Pain & Depression


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We’ve known LDN helps pain since the turn of the century. Stanford could really shake the research world if they trialed LDN for Major Depressive Disorder, not the depression that improves with less pain, or in Multiple Sclerosis clinics or the Parkinson’s or Inflammatory Bowel Disease clinics. Is it too much to ask for better quality clinical research, not just results of patients responding by click or touch on a computer touch pad?

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The astonishing promise of low dose naltrexone (LDN) research remains in its infancy since 1984, 33 years ago, when it was discovered to offer profound clinical relief for multiple sclerosis and other serious conditions. I have prescribed naltrexone in ultra low and low dose since 2003, and discussed its central anti-inflammatory glial modulating mechanisms in 2009:

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Low dose naltrexone, or LDN, has been prescribed “off label” for persons with many conditions including intractable pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, RSD, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsons Disease, IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune diseases and Crohn’s Disease to mention only a few. Low dose naltrexone is not a cure but may be potentially helpful for selected persons with these conditions. It appears to have little or no toxicity at this low dose – a few persons report transient insomnia, nausea or vivid dreams.

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The same year in 2009, soon after my post on LDN, Drs. Younger and Mackey of Stanford Pain Center reported a double blind study of low dose naltrexone in persons who had fibromyalgia more than 10 years and showed 30% improvement in pain and fatigue.

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In 2016, five Stanford authors including Dr. Mackey published a poster presentation. At least the 2009 study was double blind; not this one. It was open label.

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A novel glial cell inhibitor, low dose naltrexone, reduces pain and depression, and improves function in chronic pain: A CHOIR study

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Poster presented at: Annual Meeting of the American Pain Society; May 11-14, 2016; Austin, TX. Poster 418.

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Authors: K. Noon,  J. Sturgeon, M. Kao, B. Darnall, S. Mackey

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Stanford University Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine, Stanford, CA

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Funding received from NIH and the Redlich Pain Endowment

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NIH funding should lead us forward, not back to a single open label study. One would hope Stanford would do the larger study they recommended 7 years ago. This adds to the CV of five researchers, but

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  • does it help millions with chronic intractable pain?

  • does it add to the growing body of clinical LDN experience worldwide?

  • when will the mechanism and uses of LDN, the TLR4 receptor and the powerful innate immune system be taught by healthcare providers in academia, in practice, and in pharmacies, not just in basic science?

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The poster highlights the Stanford CHOIR Information Registry (discussed below), but provides almost nothing new despite the computing power of CHOIR that likely cost small fortunes. Patients are asked to enter clinic data into a convenient handheld click- or touch-based input device. What could be easier? We look forward to better studies from Stanford’s CHOIR devices and we long for the days when doctors publish better data that addresses the disabling pain, depression and needs of millions of our patients with chronic intractable pain.

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Stanford’s CHOIR Information System

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“We modified and implemented an existing, web-based system that administers computer-adaptive PRO questionnaires, called the Collaborative Health Outcomes Information Registry (CHOIR).  Next, we developed a messaging interface to send PRO results from CHOIR to the UF Health Epic EHR.

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The CHOIR system was developed at Stanford University by a team of informaticists and physicians who provided a no-cost license for our implementation. CHOIR utilizes a client-server architecture with web-based clinician and patient interfaces that use open source technologies, including jQuery mobile and Google Web Toolkit. Users can access CHOIR via web browsers on desktop or mobile devices. The primary patient user function is the completion of computer-adaptive PRO assessments using a click- or touch-based input device ( Figure 1 ).  Clinical user functions include registering patients to complete a PRO assessment, reviewing individual and summary PRO assessment results, longitudinal outcomes tracking, and clinical decision support through the aggregation of PRO result sets.”

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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 & Opioids Stop Working – TOLERANCE – the body no longer responds no matter how high the dose


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The comments below on ketamine tolerance apply to its use either for intractable pain or major depressive disorder. I have written about ketamine several times since April 2009. Tolerance means the medication no longer has an effect. If ketamine is to be needed for decades to come, we don’t have more than 10 years experience with repeated use to understand if and when it will stop working for our patients.

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Tolerance to ketamine is a growing potential as more infusion centers open each year.

Infusions are being used at fixed dosages

that are often too high or toxic

and predispose to tolerance and loss of efficacy.

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I’ve seen two cases of ketamine tolerance since about 2009 among persons with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). And the neuropathic pain of CRPS responds differently than other pain syndromes. We are all snowflakes, not one of us is alike another. But CRPS is unpredictable in many ways, and very predictable in others. It is also more dynamic and capable of being reversed in many who have it.

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Ketamine is given usually IV in a few centers in the country for CRPS and for Major Depressive Disorder. I prescribe it either via nasal spray or under tongue. I may, later this year, offer IV infusions to a small number of my patients who need both.

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If tolerance develops, would drug holidays work?

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Some people develop tolerance to their medication. In the old days, when I was training in the 1970’s, Parkinsons medication over time would stop working. Our only recourse was to do an inpatient drug holiday for weeks. We had to stop the drug. The resting tremor, the constant flailing, was exhausting and life threatening, especially if you had a heart condition. Newer Parkinson’s drugs completely circumvent this.

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Would drug holidays work if tolerance develops for ketamine or is it a goner forever?

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Opioids can cause tolerance through a known mechanism. They produce inflammation that causes more pain. Higher and higher doses fail to help pain. Addicts seek the high they once felt but cannot capture. This is why addicts die, chasing the impossible. Detox. Drug holiday. In the case of addiction, many are placed on Subutex, an opioid that acts on two opioid receptors and seems to prevent craving, in part at least because it has such a long half life that the blood level never dips.

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Ketamine infusions centers springing up.

Is that all they do?

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NIH and Yale began to test IV ketamine infusions in the 1990’s for major depressive disorder, and Robert Schwartzman, MD, at Hahneman in Philadelphia was one of the early ones to infuse ketamine for CRPS and contribute a large body of research on this pain.

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But in the last 2 or 3 years I receive a growing number of mailings advertising ketamine infusion centers. Just that, nothing more. Ketamine infusion centers, not pain specialists. All these young anesthesiologists popping out of training every year have a cash pay business; insurance doesn’t cover.

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Will ketamine stop working for patients who need to use it regularly for decades and decades? We don’t know. It should be studied.

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The first patient I saw with ketamine tolerance, I referred from San Diego to Professor Schwartzman in Philadelphia. She received inpatient IV around the clock for one week, then outpatient IV boosters every month. After eight months, she stopped responding. That’s when I called him to ask what to do? He did not know. So I used glial modulators. I posted her case years ago. She is in her 70’s, pain free since 2010, and two weeks ago, as a volunteer for the Red Cross, she supervised RN’s and evacuees from the flooding at Oroville dam. Tens of thousands of people, emergency care for families and homeless.

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A recent patient has had more than 20 surgeries in her hand that has CRPS. She has failed  IV ketamine, opioids, propofol given together in ICU for weeks and weeks. Surgery triggers the glia to produce neuro-inflammation.

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Another case though unusual, also posted years ago, a young male athlete, bedridden with CRPS affecting almost entire body. Flew to Professor Schwartzman 9 times and each time, the relief was gone by the time they reached the airport. He was taking opioid medication that may have been impossible to offset.

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This is what I advise when I prescribe ketamine for my patients to use at home as a nasal spray or sublingual:

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  1. Do not use it with opioids.Opioids cause inflammation, ketamine does the opposite. It modulates (reduces) inflammation.

  2. Never use it alone. It is a glial modulator, it is not only an NMDA receptor inhibitor.

  3. For intractable, treatment resistant cases, use as many glial modulators as you can.

  4. Ultra low dose naltrexone (20 micrograms TID) can profoundly reduce tolerance in patients on opioids: they may now need 1/2 to 1/8th the dose of opioid that simply had never quite done enough. Naltrexone not only relieves pain, it may profoundly improve function.

  5. Opioids stimulate glia to produce pro-inflammatory cytokines -> pain. Stop opioids if you can. You are likely to get far better results with glial modulators, especially if you have CRPS.

  6. Pain specialists should be offering a trial of glial modulators before they choose opioids for life.

  7. Use glial modulators as needed: ketamine, oxytocin (a hormone), tricyclic antidepressants (weaker than the others but can be profound for some), metformin.

  8. Metformin, a glial modulator!  for pain! in people who do not have diabetes. I will be posting on it this coming week — inshallah

  9.  Use it sparingly. Whether ketamine or opioids, use sparingly because of tolerance.

  10. If it is a good day, use less and use sparingly. If pain spikes, use higher dose, use sparingly.

  11.  When tolerance develops to ketamine, what then?

  12. Is it possible that a drug holiday would work? Should that be in months or years? we may never find out.

  13. Use ketamine and/or opioids sparingly. Prevent tolerance. You may not always need the same dose on a good day or when pain spikes.

  14. Make sure you are doing other things to relieve pain, not just ketamine or opioids.

  15.  Dextromethorphan helps, a sigma I receptor antagonist that reduces the excitotoxic glutamate

  16. Try as much as you can to exercise.

  17. Lift the mind to positive things. Learn to block thoughts of pain, dissociate from that. Choose life and doing and being.

  18. Develop momentum. Try never to judge; that includes being hard on yourself and others.

  19. Expand your spiritual life. Find your path if you don’t already have one. It may begin for all sorts of reasons, but figure it out. It’s real. Spiritual giants from all paths have had direct perception of the infinite in many ways and forms. Direct perception.

  20. S-ketamine clinical trials are now ongoing in the US. I was very disturbed to hear the side effects of S-ketamine infusion related last week. S-ketamine deeply disturbing. It is wrong to give everyone the same dose of ketamine. Not once have I ever heard anyone recount similar side effects from ketamine infusions. I got the impression from her they were not inclined to attribute it to S-ketamine, but it would be disturbing if they did not. Ketamine’s dose no matter how you give it is idiosyncratic, meaning some respond to 2 mg, some to 400 mg. It is wrong and should be unethical to subject someone to doses 200 times the dose they may need. It is dangerous and promotes tolerance.

  21.  If you’ve been stuck in bed, branch out and vary the things you do. Find music and poetry and literature. Maya Angelou suffered yet her words make you soar. Check out James Baldwin in the Oscar-nominated documentary “I Am Not Your Negro.” Baldwin’s immensely powerful analysis deconstructs movies, not as a mirror, but as a window into the imaginary; and how movies shape our thinking. As a movie critic, his writing is about poverty, class and “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed if it is not faced.” …  “There are days — this is one of them — when I wonder, how precisely are you going to reconcile yourself to your situation here…” So many writers fail to teach us how to analyze and think with such clarity. Something we don’t always do. We need to train ourselves to become critical thinkers. Baldwin brilliant mind demonstrates critical thinking at its best.

    Critical thinking is not a partisan issue. Tens of millions will lose jobs as robots rapidly take over in the next 3 years. Industry will reap more than ever in history. We all need to rethink our lives at some point.

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    Dylan’s song is about “the possibility that the most important (and least articulated) political issue of our times is that we are all being fed a false picture of reality, and it’s coming at us from every direction.”[10]

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    “Propaganda, all is phoney,” Dylan says in “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).”

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    Advertising signs that con you
    Into thinking you’re the one
    That can do what’s never been done
    That can win what’s never been won
    Meantime life outside goes on
    All around you.

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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 ketamine is FDA approved for another purpose, decades ago it was approved for anesthesia. In qualified hands, ketamine is one of the safest medications we have in our formulary.

     

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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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Spinal Cord Stimulators – comment on RSD


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Spinal Cord Stimulators 

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 Craig’s comment

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By no means do I mean to say that I or anyone else has better insight into how to treat pain, but I am against spinal cord stimulators [SCS’s] for treatment of pain due to CRPS, and possibly against use in other situations. I demand that the billions in profit they made be put into a retrospective and prospective study of damage caused by them in order for them to give full informed consent.

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I have 3 goals writing this.

  1. SCS’s

  2. Craig’s experience

  3. The Only Real Answer for severe pain, not damaging the system with opioids

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Informed consent is never given for spinal cord stimulators because it requires truth telling, something our corporations have been reluctant to do. Business ethics are not medical ethics, as we keep being reminded daily in the headlines.

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I enclose, below, a generously expressed and detailed comment by a man who had the patience to sit down and  write the painfully gory details so you can weigh-in on your decision whether to follow your pain specialist’s opinion to give you one. I don’t want anyone to feel suckered into choosing them and if I had pain I’ll admit I’d crave relief too. Anything. I’d be in line before the doors open.

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But if you have CRPS, spinal cord stimulators will create more pain. CRPS evolves unpredictably, by a will of its own. I know some very desperate patients with CRPS everywhere including face, mouth, gums, tongue, organs, trunk, limbs. Spinal cord stimulators will create more pain. Keep in mind, I don’t see the 5 year success stories even for lumbar disc pain. They don’t need me if they are pain free.

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But if you have CRPS and desperate need for pain relief because all else has failed — every known drug in highest possible doses of ketamine, propofol, opioids for weeks in ICU fail to even touch pain— there is one thing, and only one thing to do and I will set it out below. I just sent my recommendation to a patient with CRPS in extreme pain.

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My recommendation, below, is for patients who have nowhere else to turn.

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First I’ll mention the problems Craig encountered with SCS’s. He sent his comment to the opening page of this blog, so I will reproduce below. 

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I am currently undergoing a trial Medtronic SCS. I have had to have it reprogrammed 3 times since it was installed 5 days ago. I have had sensations and issues that I have addressed with my rep and my neurosurgeon. I get a severe headache when the unit is turned on. I get the constant feeling of having to urinate. I have current running through my testicles which they can not seem to program out and I am getting little pain relief. I have had to failed back surgeries, many failed injections and I have CRPS. The leads that were inserted when I was in the table covered my mid back and both legs. After I got to my feet and waited while they programmed the unit in another room. They came in and plugged it in and I no longer had coverage on the right side. My crps is in both legs, my hands, arms and face. The lyrica helped to tamp down some of the burning but I am in pain 24/7 and this was my last resort. I have scar tissue completely surrounding my S1 nerve. By the grace of God, I am on my feet, on crutches. I seem to get a look of disbelief when I tell them the unit is causing these issues or it’s not giving me the relief I was counting on. Relief, only to cause greater issues and pain. Is not relief to me. I can not wait to get this trial out of my back. I believe the leads slipped and that is why I am not getting the full coverage I had on the table. The issues I have had are as follows: severe headache, constant feeling of having to urinate, extreme joint pain, abdominal pain, sleeplessness, involuntary jerking, surges in current even when sitting still. Intense pain around the lead insertion site. Current uncomfortably running through my testicles, regardless of setting. It is my opinion there is still not a lot known about crps and I have read evidence of people have great success with these units. Everyone reacts differently. My body obviously creates a lot of scar tissue and my orthopedic surgeon created a fair amount herself. I can’t imagine even more or being forced into a chair for yet another unlucky decision. The medication helps and I have lived this far without the optimism that it would end soon. I had high hoed for this device but I don’t think it is right for me.

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One of my patients with CRPS was hospitalized for weeks with recurring unusual abscesses and required repeated surgery of hand and forearm. Even before surgery, she had failed opioids, failed ketamine, and was in ICU for weeks and weeks while the same medications were still given along with Propofol and IV Tylenol. Nothing helps her extreme pain.

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Anesthesiologists on staff in ICU threw everything they had at the pain for weeks. Most anesthesia pain doctors would have probably done what they did because that is the limit of tools we have.

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When you have hit the limit of benefit from opioids, ketamine, propofol, we have nothing else that treats pain with one exception: drug holiday.

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Stop all analgesics including Tylenol that destroys the liver as severely as cancer, the severity of which was newly discovered and published yesterday.

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The receptors for these analgesic drugs have up-regulated to such an extent they have caused the situation. Again, I stress, everything that was done during the ICU admissions would be done by any anesthesiology pain specialist. Those are the only tools. They cause the problem. The same for opioid induced hyperalgesia. We used to do it with Parkinson’s drugs in the 80’s.

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The only way to rehabilitate the up-regulation of all those receptors that have now exploded in numbers, immune to anything you throw at them, is stop the drugs.  Stop all of them for weeks, maybe months, years, no one knows, you are all the human guinea pig waiting to happen. But if we restart them, how long do we wait, how quickly will it again lead to this massive hyper-excitable state of pro-inflammatory cytokines that we know have gone wild, flooding the CNS. A flooded engine will not restart.

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Ketamine at least is known to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines, but the system is too busy exploding, birthing new receptors that take over, and you’ve got a 55 car pile up. Well, more like millions I’d guess. No scientist here. Clnically, when can we resume something after a drug holiday, how soon and which drug? I’d avoid opioids because they create more pro-inflammatory cytokines. Choose ketamine, because they reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines, but if it works at all, stop it at first sign of tolerance, which is the need for increased dose. It becomes less effective. Walk a fine line, endure more pain because unless you do, it will no longer help. Opioids, analgesics of many kinds. 

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How do we get you through a drug holiday because we know withdrawing these drugs will trigger even more pain for possibly weeks until the system settles down?

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Pain storms, hurricanes

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This is complex regional pain syndrome where we see this insanity of pain storms. There is no other condition, unless several neuropathic pains in people with cancer, nowhere I have seen this type of pain in decades except CRPS – comparable to pain of subarrachnoid hemorrhage, blinding pain.

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No one has answers. None. One university does outpatient infusions of ketamine six hours daily for 8 to 12 weeks. Does it help? A small percentage. Outpatient, 6 hours daily, 5 days a week, staying at a hotel, 8 weeks.

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This is CRPS/RSD. No one has answers. It is futile to throw more of the drug in the system. That is my opinion. You have a choice and may choose otherwise. It is your body. You may stay on monthly opioids for decades, until you finally admit how poorly they work. A drug holiday is what we did in the 70s during my ancient training with Parkinson’s patients. They needed full 24-hour support. The American medical system has changed since then and those are not options currently available—cost.

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You need full psychological and psychiatric support.

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The Only Real Answer

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The country needs to invest $10 million to complete the clinical trials needed for an injectable, long-lasting interleukin 10 [IL-10], the anti-inflammatory cytokine. It already has full scientific and animal studies performed by and with the world’s foremost glial scientist at University of Colorado Boulder. Professor Linda Watkins has won awards from many countries. She has been the keynote speaker at the annual academy pain meetings for years. IL-10 can relieve pain for three months in animals that have intractable chronic neuropathic pain. This is not new —–NIH I’m looking at you to fund clinical trials. And those of you who care, do a Kickstarter to fund the clinical trials.

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This is the power of the innate immune system. NIH would rather fund research on the unknowns like stem cells rather than the known. It’s known for decades, NIH does not like to fund pain research. Glia are not all about pain. They are the innate immune system, the key to Alzheimer’s, neurodegenerative diseases, almost all known disease including atherosclerosis. It’s all about inflammation. We need the trials to stop giving drugs that cause inflammation, opioids —–CDC fiats are not as good as a drug that relieves pain, a drug that really works on mechanism. Where will the addicts go if the ER only has IL-10 for pain? That is one way to overspend on ER visits.  And NIH, please get us some real clinical research funding on how to use glia for our benefit. Get us some research on the entourage effect, combining medications to achieve relief especially for neuropathic pain.

Then bring on some crack negotiating teams from insurers to do some negotiation about pharmaceutical prices. Our new president has mentioned that.

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Please bring this to everyone’s attention. One way to get a grip on pain and/or depression is to build hope, help others, and energize behind a goal.

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Kickstarters work to raise tens of millions overnight. 

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IL-10 – animals have been shown to be pain free for three months, already proven in animal studies, by one of the world’s most widely acknowledged pain specialists Professor Linda Watkins, PhD. We need the final steps to fund the clinical trials in humans.

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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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Ketamine Consensus Statement for Mood Disorders Needed


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I just had a call from a student writing a paper on ketamine. Question #1: What % respond to ketamine.

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Why are we still asking this rather than treating with ketamine?

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3.7% of Americans are disabled with Major Depression, many for decades, or entire lives. Antidepressants may work on only 30%. It’s time we had a consensus statement on use and training of ketamine.

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Read Cornel West: Pity the sad legacy of Obama, before you read on.

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Pity the sad legacy of psychiatry. Even neoliberals fail to speak up, stuck in the dictates of the few. We’ve known for decades that ketamine is effective treatment. It can work in hours. IV ketamine clinics are popping up like Jack in the Boxes and will continue to increase in number.

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It is time to ask: Is IV the only way to administer? Is it cost effective? Do these doctors have the right training?

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We need a consensus statement from psychiatrists and from the American Academy of Psychiatry and Neurology on training in inflammation, the innate immune system and treatment with ketamine.

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Every psychiatrist and mental health specialist should be instructed in rationale, the innate immune system, glia, inflammation, addiction medicine, glial modulators (ketamine is only one), and how to look at the whole system, holistically, not just one more drug. Inflammation, diet, exercise, among these.

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A focus on Ketamine alone in treating a complex organ like the brain is incomplete. Think inflammation, brain, spinal cord, glial modulators, not just drugs, not just ketamine. Ketamine is potentially addicting, a schedule III drug. Evaluate a patient just as you do when prescribing opioids.

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Then we need consensus on its use for intractable chronic pain including RSD/CRPS.

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Why don’t schools teach anything on the human body and the immune systems rather than biology and cutting up frogs?

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 Data below is from National Institute of Mental Health:

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Major Depression Among Adults.

  • Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States.

  • The 12-month prevalence data for major depressive episode presented here are from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health  (NSDUH). Based mainly on the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), in the NSDUH study a major depressive episode is defined as:

    • A period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image.

    • Unlike the definition in the DSM-IV, no exclusions were made for a major depressive episode caused by medical illness, bereavement, or substance use disorders.

  • In 2015, an estimated 16.1 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults.

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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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Glia regulate glucose & metabolism – diabetes, obesity, Alzheimers – will change treatment


 

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Sugar has a stronger effect on our brains than we even realised, study finds

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The complete opposite of what scientists thought.

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From publication today in Cell

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Astrocytic Insulin Signaling Couples Brain Glucose Uptake with Nutrient Availability

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Quoting from the Sciencealert report:

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“German scientists have discovered that our brains are actively taking in sugar from the blood stream, overturning the long-held assumption that this was a purely passive process.

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Even more surprising, they also found that it’s not our neurons that are responsible for absorbing all that sugar – it’s our glial cells, which make up 90 percent of the brain’s total cells, and . . .

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Not only does the find go against conventional wisdom on how our brains respond to sugar intake, it also shows how cells other than our neurons can actively play a role in controlling our behaviour.

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Astrocytes – which are a specialised form of glial cell that outnumber neurons more than fivefold – have long been thought of as little more than ‘support cells’, helping to maintain the blood-brain barrier, carry nutrients to the nervous tissue, and play a role in brain and spinal cord repair.

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But we now have evidence that they also play a role in human feeding behaviours, with researchers finding that their ability to sense and actively take in sugar is regulating the kinds of appetite-related signals that our neurons send out to the rest of the body. 

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And we’re not talking about a little bit of sugar here: the human brain experiences the highest level of sugar consumption out of every organ in the body. 

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“Our results showed for the first time that essential metabolic and behavioural processes are not regulated via neuronal cells alone, and that other cell types in the brain, such as astrocytes, play a crucial role,” explains study leader Matthias Tschöp from the Technical University of Munich.

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“This represents a paradigm shift and could help explain why it has been so difficult to find sufficiently efficient and safe medicines for diabetes and obesity until now.”

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Tschöp and his team decided to investigate how the brain decides to take in sugar from the blood – and how much – because this is directly related to our feelings of hunger.

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. . .The team used positron emission tomography (PET) scans to observe how insulin receptors act on the surface of the brain’s astrocytes. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to allow the body to use or store sugar (in the form of glucose) from carbohydrates in the food we eat.

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They found that if these receptors were missing on certain astrocytes, it would result in less activity in the neurons that are responsible for curbing food uptake, called proopiomelanocortin neurons. 

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Not only that, but they found that astrocytes missing insulin receptors actually became less efficient over time in transporting glucose into the brain – particularly in a region of the hypothalamus that sends out signals that you’re full, or satiated.

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So it looks like glial cells, not the neurons, are the true ‘gate-keepers’ for how much sugar our brains absorb, and we now know that sugar has such a powerful influence on them, they’re seeking out sugar, rather than just passively absorbing it.

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A better understanding of how this works could change everything about how we treat obesity in the future.”

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References to whet the appetite:

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Kleinridders, A., Ferris, H.A., Cai, W., and Kahn, C.R. Insulin action in brain regulates systemic metabolism and brain function. Diabetes. 2014; 63: 2232–2243

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De Felice, F.G. and Ferreira, S.T. Inflammation, defective insulin signaling, and mitochondrial dysfunction as common molecular denominators connecting type 2 diabetes to Alzheimer disease. Diabetes. 2014; 63: 2262–2272

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Ferreira, S.T., Clarke, J.R., Bomfim, T.R., and De Felice, F.G. Inflammation, defective insulin signaling, and neuronal dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimers Dement. 2014; 10: S76–S83

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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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The advertising below is not recommended by me.

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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in Remission 6 years


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 Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

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Celebrating six years of complete remission

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Why ketamine should never be used alone

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I first posted her case here. 

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For years, pain below both knees was 8 to 9 on scale of 10, “like I had swallowed a fire burning.”

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She was unable to stand or walk for more than 4 years before seeing me. This week, I again saw this very healthy athletic RN who at almost 70 of age is very youthful, very energetic. She failed IV ketamine given first by Dr. Schwartzman daily for one week, then boosters for 8 months.

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After 8 months of ketamine, then no response at all. None. 

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That’s when I prescribed other glial modulators and rational polypharmacy that brought CRPS into remission. Then very very slowly tapered off all but one, leaving only low dose naltrexone (LDN) for the last 8 years. Zero pain. None. Hiking, working, fully active.

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When used in conditions with known neuro-inflammation, rats or human, LDN is a one of the most powerful, most effective glial modulators I have ever seen clinically in my patients in the last 15 years.

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Until proven otherwise clinically, LDN should be taken lifelong in those cases.

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This website is not for email.

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The advertising is not approved by me and

unrelated to anything on these pages.

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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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Cannabis: CBD may help pain when rectal suppository morphine is a problem


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Marijuana, cannabis, is overlooked for pain control

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CBD – cannabidiol — is the immune/glial suppressor

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It is anti-inflammatory in brain and spinal cord

 

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Correction 3/28/16:

It is not legal to transport CBD to states where marijuana is illegal, though it has no psychoactive properties. This is explained in detail by two doctors who wrote in drugpolicy.org, March 2015. I recommend reading the article as it makes several important points.

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The cannabis plant, and everything in it, is illegal under federal law. And even in states where it is legal, it is not legal to ship cannabis products from state to state, or to leave the state with such a product.

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A recent study from Israel showed that CBD in its natural form as a whole plant extract is superior over a single, synthetic CBD compound for treating illness. The plant has continually outperformed synthetic versions in research studies.

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…There are many support groups for children with epilepsy whose parents are using medical cannabis, such as this forum run through the Epilepsy Foundation. Connecting with them can be a great resource for staying on top of the developments with CBD and the other therapeutic cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

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Dr. Malik Burnett is a former surgeon and physician advocate. He also served as executive director of a medical marijuana nonprofit organization. Amanda Reiman, PhD, holds a doctorate in Social Welfare and teaches classes on drug policy at the University of California-Berkeley.

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Cannabis has been used for thousands of years. It has been in the U.S. pharmacopoeia since 1850. A medical textbook from the 1920’s lists medical uses for cannabis. A Mexican American grandfather on hospice in 1995, explained how cannabis had helped his arthritic joints decades before.

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When alcohol prohibition failed and was repealed in 1933, Harry J. Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962, created the word marihuana claiming it led to addiction, violence, overdosage. Anslinger used racist propaganda to instill fear in Americans that only Mexicans and Negros use cannabis which led to creation of the Marijuana Tax Act passed by congress in 1937. Not unlike the CDC Opioid Guideliness of March 2016, it was passed over the objections of the AMA.

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The American Medical Association (AMA) opposed the act because the tax was imposed on physicians prescribing cannabis, retail pharmacists selling cannabis, and medical cannabis cultivation/manufacturing. The AMA proposed that cannabis instead be added to the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act. The bill was passed over the last-minute objections of the American Medical Association. Dr. William Creighton Woodward, legislative counsel for the AMA objected to the bill on the grounds that the bill had been prepared in secret without giving proper time to prepare their opposition to the bill. He doubted their claims about marijuana addiction, violence, and overdosage; he further asserted that because the word Marijuana was largely unknown at the time, the medical profession did not realize they were losing cannabis. “Marijuana is not the correct term… Yet the burden of this bill is placed heavily on the doctors and pharmacists of this country.”

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Israel’s Professor Rafael Mechoulam is widely recognized for his work on cannabis over more than 40 years. He and his lab isolated and identified THC, CBD, cannabinoid receptors, endogenous cannabinoids – your brain makes two of them! Your body has more cannabinoid receptors than any other type. It was he who published 40 years ago that CBD controls certain types of epilepsy in children – and it was ignored until Dr. Sanjay Gupta publicized this in the last one or two years.

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Professor Mechoulam says CBD from the plant (the plant is illegal in the United States) outperforms synthetic CBD.

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However, standards for CBD products do not exist, assays may be unreliable, it may be extracted with harsh chemicals that are harmful to those who are ill, and FDA has warned against false claims of efficacy. 

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Nevertheless, there are indications CBD may help pain. It has no psychoactive properties. It does not cause intoxication. There is no THC in it.

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CBD, Cannabidiol, is one of the 86 known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant that has 400 chemicals. In addition, the plant has perhaps 100 or 200 unique terpenes, also said to help symptoms. 

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Topical CBD may help – keep that in mind when Blue Shield’s formulary offers only rectal suppository morphine (unless you wait days and hope they will approve a prior authorization).

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I received a note today about Colorado Hemp Farmers:

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a woman in her sixties suffering from sciatica who is having her nurse rub her back with a coconut oil extract of a specific strain of industrial hemp rich in CBD, but without significant THC. She reports that the pain alleviation is remarkable with the soothing extract, which she judged to be superior to when commercially available CBD oil was used. 

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Have any readers have tried CBD for pain?

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Your feedback would help to inform researchers to add an additional arm to the tests now being done in rats.

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I have heard from one man with severe pain today. He uses CBD in many forms. It helps pain a little, and also it is calming. He describes it like you know pain is better after you take ibuprofen. Similar with CBD. He does not feel at all drugged.

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This site is not for email.

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

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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.

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

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Please be aware any advertising on this free educational website is

NOT advocated by me and NOT approved by me.

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NFL – Prevent &Treat Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE – Opioids Blamed Wrongly


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Crowdfunding Needed

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Prevent and Treat

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Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

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C.T.E.

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Opioids Wrongly Blamed

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Leagues may have known about this technology since 2002 publications

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Football players have demonstrated ability to influence others

and raise money for important medical causes.

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This is not about class action law suits.

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This can be imaged early and likely treated.

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It’s about science and bringing medicine into the 21st century.

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A paradigm shift began with the discovery

of the innate immune system by internationally recognized scientists in 1991.

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The clock has been turned off.

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We can change this now.

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Funding is needed for internationally recognized leaders to continue this work.

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The tragic deaths of former NFL football players from repeated concussions has led to brain damage and death from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Suicide profoundly shocks us when many players like Junior Seau at age 43 and now Tyler Sash, die at age 27. He is the youngest found to have such extensive brain damage, as bad as that seen in Junior Seau. So much can be done with state of the art science now that has been ignored.

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Disclosure: I was asked by a research institute if I would evaluate retired NFL players. I chose not to do that so that I might be free to post unbiased information that is not subject to being manipulated by either side in the ongoing appeals for compensation that must be going on with the NFL for $70 million. Tragic that this is such a fight. Even more tragic, this may be diagnosed early and treated.

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Pearls

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Fear of compensation claims after concussion injury prevents imaging of football players and veterans early, while still treatable, before severe changes and death.

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Fear of compensation claims has prevented decades of research funding by internationally recognized scientists. Could politics at NIH & the VA have turned off funding for veterans with pain and with concussion blast injuries? Does cancer and heart disease forever lock up all the research money and now it shifts to stem cells?

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It is inaccurate to say that CTE cannot be diagnosed except after death at autopsy.

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PET scan imaging of glia can show changes early, while alive.

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The ligand PK1195 must be used for PET scan to image glia, available for years in Australia, not yet in America.

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FDA approval must be obtained for the ligand PK1195 before it is used to  image glia in the United States.

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CTE can be diagnosed early.

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CTE is likely to be treatable.

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Internationally distinguished scientists have shown reversal of complete paralysis in rat models of multiple sclerosis in 2010, a so called “degenerative” neurological disease.

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Intractable pain and treatment resistant depression can be put into remission with glial modulators. Surely CTE and other neurological diseases can be approached with scientifically recognized mechanisms and treatments – even if doctors are not aware of the paradigm shift and how to modulate neuro-inflammation. See years of posting on this site since 2009 based on the most important finds in the field of neuroscience for more than 100 years: the innate immune system, glia, neuro-inflammation, and ability to use glial modulators, to modulate intractable conditions that are known to lead to suicide and/or death.

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Paradigm shifts in all fields including medicine, fail to be recognized.

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CTE gives opioids a bad name and misled Taylor Sash and likely others from the diagnosis of CTE that caused years of severe forgetfulness and behavior changes. He may have chosen suicide by opioid.

 

 

 

FACT:

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Trauma such as concussion or infection or stroke triggers inflammation in the brain:  “cytokine storm”

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Inflammation kills brain cells

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Inflammatory cytokines (inflammation) are produced by glia that has been activated by trauma or other causes such as infection, stroke, etc.

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Activated glia produce neuroinflammation and cell death.

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Inflammatory cytokines produce pain and “degenerative” neurological and psychiatric disorders including dementia, depression, anxiety, delirium and death.

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Neuro-inflammation in brain has been found in teens with early signs of schizophrenia, in rats made depressed, and rodents with chronic pain.

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Glia have been detected in life, in vivo, with PET scan imaging, by internationally-recognised radiologist working at Imperial College London, now based in Australia.

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PET scans require a ligand, PK1195, approved for years in Australia – must be approved by FDA in the United States before it can be used here.

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There is good clinical data and publications in animal models to show that damage in brain and spinal cord produced by activated glia can be reversed.

E.g., In 2010, total paralysis has been completely reversed in a rat model of multiple sclerosis by internationally-recognised glial researcher who, in 1991, transformed the understanding of glia that comprise 85% of the brain, since then known to be the innate immune system.

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Publications have shown that patients with major depressive disorder and patients with chronic low back pain have memory loss and brain atrophy.

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Opioids cause pain by stimulating production of inflammatory cytokines that are known to damage neurons in brain and spinal cord – and must be tapered off. We have better treatment for pain.

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Insurance carriers routinely deny payment for recognized medications and procedures to relieve pain.

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CDC is planning a nationwide experiment to radically limit opioids.

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Treatment with glial modulators that reduce neuroinflammation has been shown clinically to relieve treatment resistant major depressive disorder, PTSD, bipolar depression and intractable pain. They are neuroprotective.

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We need to be able to flag players off the field early and intervene with treatment such as glial modulators either before, during or after repeated injury.

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GOALS

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1.  PK1195, a ligand for PET scans, must be tested and approved by FDA. Approval is mandatory for all medications or substances injected into vein or body.

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It simply “tags” the PET scanner to image glia, the cells of the innate immune system that are activated by trauma, infection, stroke, etc.

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2. Do serial PET scans using PK1195 to image glia in NFL players and veterans after blast injury.

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Trauma from concussion is causing cytokine storm, killing brain cells –> ultimately end stage dementia, anxiety, depression, suicide

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3. Flag that player off the field. Follow glial changes during treatment to determine if able to return or if permanent, but prior to end stage damage.

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4.  Treat with glial modulators preventively, early, middle, and/or late

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This subject will be continued. My apologies for lack of time to delete and edit. Days pass by quickly to post brief comments. Time is limited. Please send comments, below.

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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 call the office to schedule an appointment.

This site is not email for personal questions.

~~~~~

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

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Side Effects of Neridronic Acid – Neridronate


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Neridronate

Neridronic acid

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This is a long response to detailed comments from Julie who had a reaction to the neridronic acid protocol for CRPS.

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The clinical trial on neridronic acid is extremely important and unique. It is important because it does not just cover symptoms, it actually may put CRPS into remission.

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If I had CRPS, I would not hesitate to accept short term side effects if I thought I could get long term benefit, even possibly remission. We need this study. It will not be available for anyone unless many enroll in the double blind study and hopefully soon so that results can be submitted to the FDA for approval.

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Please read her comments first, at the end of my post. And then my comments below.

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And because neridronic acid relates to bone metabolism, much later I will mention an area of research that is likely to be be valuable because it is the largest receptor system in the body, the endocannabinoid receptor system, the body’s own cannabinoid system.  Two ideas from Raphael Mechoulam, professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel are keenly interesting:

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The Skeletal Endocannabinoid System

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The Entourage Effect

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Glia make one of the cannabinoids in the brain, and glial research is where I suspect some of the best research will come

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Hopefully these ideas will stimulate  research.

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In response to Julie, I wrote:

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Julie, I am so sorry to hear of the difficulty you had to go through for such a long time. And relieved that you got through it. I and, I’m sure everyone else, thanks you for volunteering. We will all benefit. And we all hope that if any reaction is to occur, please let it be rare. It appears that yours is rare.

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I know everyone is with you, and we bring all our hopes for the unknown. No one has the answer of what to do with intractable pain of any kind, not just CRPS pain. We must, MUST, begin to do more research on intractable pain in humans. Neridronic acid is an important beginning to look at a new mechanism.

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CRPS has, in some people, escaped every known rational approach to treatment. Neridronate may be the best thing we can get. It takes time to learn how new medications work, and they have chosen wisely, I am sure.

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Be assured, I think good minds are working on the best. But it is unknown territory.  Numbers are needed – CRPS can be very dynamic. Flares and remissions wax and wane, so long term study must be done.

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We all see patients after CRPS flares and there is nothing more to offer. Not one thing. We urgently need something that works. We are hoping neridronic acid will be that rescue.

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Will remission last 12 months or 3 months or less?

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What are long term risks?

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How often could it potentially be given, or will remission really last for years in some? We all need to see numbers.

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Huge hopes are on this drug.

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We must balance hopes and fears.

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We recognize it is a new drug for a new purpose. We hope this research will drive many more studies on CRPS and/or intractable pain.

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Julie, thank you for allowing others to see details. It may help other volunteers to set aside time to recover any post infusion effects, if needed. Hope for the best, plan for the worst is the saying.

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No one yet knows how good the potential is for duration of effect. Remission could potentially be total, in some. How many?

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We are all learning how to treat chronic intractable pain.

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Skeletal Endocannabinoid System

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The highly decorated scientist who discovered THC and the body’s endocannabinoid system, Raphael Mechoulam, professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, recently mentioned the SKELETAL CANNABINOID SYSTEM in a 2014 documentary on his discoveries.

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The cannabinoid system interacts powerfully with the immune system in ways not yet studied. Why does your CRPS immune system affect the skeletal system and create pain?

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Cannabinoids are anti-inflammatory, analgesic, healing. The body makes its own. We need to study the biggest receptor system in the body. It is a gaping hole that is left out of existing work on the immune system.

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And how much are glia and our innate immune system in CNS— how much are they studied?

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Please let there somehow be funding for many studies on humans – but let’s begin one study, guided by Distinguished Professor Linda Watkin’s lab. She is the only scientist who is doing translational work from  basic research in the lab to humans.

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Professor Watkins has the best clinical solution I have seen: IL-10 has remarkable potential to bring your pain to zero for 3 months or more at a times. Your brain makes it. It is *the* anti-inflammatory cytokine. Her lab has been the world leader in glial research. Where is the funding for what may be the most important area of work for intractable mood disorders and treatment resistant depression?

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Glia

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How do hundreds of now usable drugs create pro-inflammatory cytokines thus make more pain or more major mood disorder?

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And which of these hundreds of drugs on our formulary reduce inflammatory cytokines?

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What is the role, if any, of some of the medications used by rheumatologists to dampen the hyperactive immune system in autoimmune disease? Risks, but possible gain. We will never have all the answers. ALL the answers for everyone is hard to imagine.

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How do hundreds of existing drugs affect the balance of CNS cytokines?

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Skeletal Endocannabinoid System – see Raphael Machoulam’s lab in Israel. May be critical for CRPS and for osteoporosis in seniors.

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Mechoulam’s lab would bite at the chance to get funded to work with the Italian and USA CRPS study.

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Julie — I am heartened that you may be able to see Professor Ott who may be one of the foremost researchers on bone metabolism if not number one.

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I posted three times on bisphosphonates last year and hope they are a good review for others.

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The Entourage Effect

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Mechoulam also has an important concept that probably applies to my method of trying to modulate these powerful intractable pain syndromes.

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Simple concept – brilliant:

The Entourage Effect. Drugs are like politicians. A famous politician may walk unrecognized, but when you surround him or her with many people, even of lesser status, the politician has a far more powerful effect.

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I don’t know how you guys do it.

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Respectful best wishes.

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I know some of you ignore this, but I have to repeat:

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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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This material 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.

~~~~~

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

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Dementia, Memory Loss, Brain Atrophy – not always Alzheimer’s Disease. We are all at risk.


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Dementia

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Alzheimer’s Disease

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Sustained Reversal Published by UCLA

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If you have a medical problem that involves the brain, this may apply to you.

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In a major breakthrough, Dale E. Bredesen reported that 9 of 10 patients with Alzheimer’s Disease were able to return to full time work. His report appeared in the journal Aging, September 2014. A PDF can be downloaded. He is UCLA Augustus Rose Professor of Neurology, director of the UCLA Easton Center Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research.

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He used a 36 point holistic approach based on published neuroscience research. There is no drug. .

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There is No Magic Bullet – Highly Individualized

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Dementia is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. It affects roughly 25 to 30 percent of the population over 80, with 70 percent of those having Alzheimer’s Disease.

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The number of cases doubles every 5 years in people over 65. By age 85, almost half of all people are afflicted. A family history of Alzheimer’s increases risk. Five percent have onset early in age.

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In other words, once we pass 60, we are all at risk for this disease, but may occur as young as 30 in rare cases.

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What to do?

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1. See a good neurologist for a proper diagnosis. If  dementia, there are at least 9 causes, Alzheimer’s is 40% of those [N.B. source, verify].

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Some are treatable, such as deficiency of vitamin B12 or thyroid. Remember, do not take folic acid unless you are taking adequate B12 as folate will mask B12 deficiency and lead to neurological problems that may be severe.

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2. Read the Alzheimer’s Disease In-Depth Report in the New York Times. It gives clear and comprehensive advice for the patient and the caregiver. It is not a diagnosis.

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3. Memory loss can be reversed and sustained. Dr. Bredeson reports, “Improvements have been sustained, and at this time the longest patient follow-up is two and one-half years from initial treatment, with sustained and marked improvement.”

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He points out the failure of the so called Alzheimer’s drugs, that help little or not at all. Instead, he uses a 36 point metabolic approach, discussed in more detail below. He said the findings are “very encouraging,” but he added that the results are anecdotal, and a more extensive, controlled clinical trial is needed.

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Alzheimers has the potential to devastate the economy worldwide in the near future. The Bredesen report is a first. Ideally it may revolutionize medical research, fiscal budgets, dietary guidelines, policy changes, school lunches, advertizing and foods that promote all the wrong changes in brain. But it involves changing behavior and even simple school lunch programs that improve cognitive function and health have been mercilessly attacked.

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Alzheimer’s Disease is relentless. The causes are not known and there is no cure. Changing behavior is dificult.

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There are three hallmarks of the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease:

  • amyloid plaques

  • neurofibrillary tau tangles, the primary marker

  • loss of connections in the brain

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Plaques and tangles may be present for years and may appear quite early in life, without ever developing Alzheimer’s. We do not have a specific marker for diagnosis, but we can exclude treatable conditions. More importantly, doctors and families need a better tool to monitor cognitive decline so that we may intervene early before the devastating and costly disease captures the lives and finances of patients, caregivers and families alike.

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Risk Factors For Alzheimers Are The Same As For Heart Disease

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Obesity, inactivity, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, low Vitamin D – serum level of 50 ng/mL is ideal.

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Benzodiazepines increase risk of Alzheimers 50%, reported in 2014, particularly with long acting forms (Valium, clonazepam) or long term use. They are widely prescribed for insomnia or anxiety, yet almost 50% of older adults continue to use these drugs. It is unrealistic to think they can be eliminated – they are habit forming after all, but a Quebec study showed that a brochure alone helped 27 percent of elderly users taper down and discontinue their drug in six months. Another 11 percent reduced dosage. Do taper off slowly with proper guidance. Informed consent can help each person to choose the risk or the taper. If the brochure doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will.

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Systems Approach – No Silver Bullet

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The small trial published by Dr. Bredesen showed reversal of cognitive decline using an individualized 36 point ‘systems approach’ to memory disorders. Results started to be seen after 3 to 6 months.

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In the UCLA Newsroom interview, he says: “The existing Alzheimers drugs affect a single target, but Alzheimers disease is more complex. Imagine having a roof with 36 holes in it, and your drug patched one hole very well, he said. The drug may have worked, and a single hole may have been fixed, but you still have 35 other leaks, and so the underlying process may not be affected much.”

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It “involves comprehensive diet changes, brain stimulation, exercise, sleep optimization, specific pharmaceuticals and vitamins, and multiple additional steps that affect brain chemistry.” Though each target may be affected in a modest way, the overall effect may be additive or even synergistic.

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The downside is its complexity. No one was able to stick to the entire protocol. The side effect was improved health and improved body mass index. Successful candidates did lose weight. He emphasizes that this small study needs to be individualized and replicated on a large scale. The program for one patient included:

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  • eliminating all simple carbohydrates, gluten and processed food from her diet, and eating more vegetables, fruits and non-farmed fish

  • meditating twice a day and beginning yoga to reduce stress

  • sleeping seven to eight hours per night, up from four to five

  • taking melatonin, methylcobalamin, vitamin D3, fish oil and coenzyme Q10 each day

  • optimizing oral hygiene using an electric flosser and electric toothbrush

  • reinstating hormone replacement therapy, which had previously been discontinued.

  • fasting for a minimum of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, and for a minimum of three hours between dinner and bedtime

  • exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes, four to six days per week

 

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Diet

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We have known that calorie restriction reverses amyloid deposition.

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One diet was developed by nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, Ph.D., of Rush University in Chicago, and her colleagues.

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According to the findings, the MIND diet was able to lower the risk of AD by as much as 53 percent in participants who strictly adhered to the diet, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it fairly well. It was compared to the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet.

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“To follow the MIND diet, a person should eat at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day —  along with a glass of wine —  snack most days on nuts, eat beans every other day or so, eat poultry and berries at least twice a week, and eat fish at least once a week.

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However, a person should limit consumption of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than one tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three), to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of AD, according to the study.

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Berries are the only fruit included in the MIND diet. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” Morris said, and strawberries have also performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.”

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I recommend that my patients Google pro and anti-inflammatory foods and move their diet in the direction of lowering the burden of inflammation.

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Supplements

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CurcuViva or Longvida is a special formulation of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric spice that is able to cross through the blood brain barrier and reach the brain. I posted on it here and it is reviewed in more detail here. Turmeric does not enter the brain. It was developed by researchers at UCLA Alzheimer’s Research Center showing the relationship between pre-tangle tau, brain cell death, and cognitive function. Full memory was restored in mice that had dysfunction caused by tau tangles. It has been shown to help Alzheimers and joint pain.

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WARNING: Do not take CurcuViva if ulcers or gallbladder disease.

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Supplements Can Harm – Caution Toxic

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Supplements can cause great harm. Many are toxic and deplete the brain of essential nutrients or cause irreparable harm.

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Always research the value and harm of every supplement put into your body. The best site on herbs and botanical I have found is updated regularly by the expert in integrative medicine and alternative therapies at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. They research supplements and herbs to show efficacy and how they interact with prescription medications to verify if they may help or harm. Ask, does this drug – yes, vitamins and supplements are drugs but unregulated and untested – cause toxic increase in medication or rapid loss (speeded metabolism) of prescription medications resulting in less effective serum levels and no benefit.

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Metabolism of drugs and drug-drug interactions is critical to know.We do not have enough data on supplements. We ignore behavioral changes such as diet, exercise, stress reduction at our peril in favor of unregulated, unproven, costly silver bullets.

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Reflecting the importance of my interest in supplements since the majority of Americans take so many, one of the first things I did in starting this website is to post on benefit and harms of vitamins and supplements.

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In addition to that detailed list, use the search box just above my photo top left to find other posts on frequently used supplements mentioned below.

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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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  • Vitamin B6 in excess can cause irreversible neurological disease – know the safe dose because it is now overdosed in many things.

  • Heavy NSAID use increases risk of Alzheimers.

  • Zinc blocks copper that is essential for every cell in the body.

  • Vitamins A and E have no proven benefit and serious risks.

  • CoQ-10 is essential for every cell. Statins deplete CoQ-10. It is essential in the electron transport chain to make ATP, the energy used by every cell. Research has shown it helpful for mitochondrial diseases such as migraine and Parkinsons Disease though very high doses for the latter. I do not know of any publications for its use in Alzheimers.

  • Fish oil can reduce triglycerides 45%. Adjust dose based upon level of triglycerides – elevated levels increase risk of Alzheimers.

  • Hormones affect function of many organs including brain. If low, then restore at least to low normal. If high, rule out tumor.

  • Low vitamin D doubles the risk of dementia and Alzheimers.

Low Vitamin D Doubles Risk of Dementia & Alzheimers Disease

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That was published in the journal Neurology, August 2014. Vitamin D is a special category and I have posted on its anti-inflammatory and analgesic benefit many times, its effect on the immune system, on pain relief, and on depression. It is important for five cancers, heart disease. Again, use the search function top left by my photo for details.

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WARNING: Make sure before taking any Vitamin D that your MD checks PTH and then if normal, recommend a dose of D3 based upon serum levels of 25(OH)D. I maintain my patients on a serum level of ~50 ng/mL, not more, not less, in accord with the most recent research.

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B Vitamins

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Brain atrophy occurs in those with aging as well as with Major Depression or Chronic Pain and with aging. They were able to prevent 90% atrophy of the hippocampus and areas targeted by Alzheimers Disease with specific doses of B vitamins, below. The OPTIMA (Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing) at Oxford University, March 2013. I disagree with their dose of Vitamin B6 as I have seen tragic toxicity in patients that takes at least one year to reverse, if ever.

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These are the doses I suggest:

  • .B12 500 mcg/day

  • Folic Acid 800 mcg/day

  • B Complex —-B6 not to exceed 2 mg ! B6 is one of the vitamins in B Complex and it

    can be toxic to nerve. It is being overdosed in many supplements and energy drinks.

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Inflammation

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If you haven’t gathered by now, the focus is on inflammation. The brain and spinal cord has an innate immune system different than the immune system in the rest of your body. The cells of the innate immune system are called glia, and they produce many chemicals, in particular, microglia and astrocytes produce cytokines. Anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory cytokines. They must be in balance.

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Inflammatory cytokines are shown to be involved in almost every known disease including Alzheimers, Parkinsons, ALS, MS, autoimmune disease, chronic pain, major depression, cancer, atherosclerosis.

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Pro-inflammatory drugs: opioids and alcohol for example.

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Anti-inflammatory drugs: low dose naltrexone, dextromethorphan, ketamine, amitriptyline, Vitamin D, melatonin. Again, use the search function above photo for the many posts including case studies. It would be helpful to see more medications studied to show if they are pro- or anti-inflammatory, and to see studies on these medications in persons with memory difficulty. That will not happen since they are generic, low cost.

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Living Wills & Healthcare Power of Attorney

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Be aware of the changing laws in your state. In the event dementia prevents you from choosing your care, if you have asked that no food or water be given, medical staff are not legally permitted to follow that directive. Legal precedent directs that if you reach for food or water, that indicates your intent to be fed, regardless of written requests made when you were of sound mind. It behoves us all to change behavior now.

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Summary

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  • Use an Alzheimers self test for early detection. This is not a diagnosis.

  • Obtain a neurological evaluation.

  • Be aware of the importance of the 36 step metabolic approach.

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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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Proposal: A 5-Year Study of Best Methods to Treat Intractable Pain


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PROPOSAL

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A controlled trial to improve care for chronic pain:

The study to understand prognoses and preferences for

outcomes and risks of treatments

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Model after Joanne Lynn’s 1995 SUPPORT Study

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A controlled trial to improve care for seriously ill hospitalized patients:

The study to understand prognoses and preferences for

outcomes and risks of treatments (SUPPORT)

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Proposal

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A controlled five-year trial to improve care for outpatients with chronic pain. The study will be designed to understand prognoses and preferences related to the outcomes and risks of various treatments.

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The focus:

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Intractable pain, those who have failed pain medications and procedures or those with moderate to severe pain who only partially respond.

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Study polypharmacy, compare medications that may show synergy or that additively improve relief.

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Study and search for glial modulators – medications that reduce proinflammatory cytokines.

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Problem

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Research is needed to give persons with intractable pain the data and the confidence that they can affordably use to choose the best treatment needed to get their lives back again. They have already spent tens of thousands. They may be unable to work. We all need these options.

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There are a few small islands in this country doing a radical experiment in managing pain without opioids [narcotics, the police term] as discussed in the New York Times in May 2014, and the 2008 Mayo Clinic study. Efforts such as these need to be supported with data as soon as possible in order to reduce the burden of disability and pain in our society, especially our youth, our children, our veterans, our aging seniors, well everyone. We can be productive and we want to be.

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I have seen remarkable outcomes, pain that failed to respond to all known pain medications, going into partial and even total remission, lives restored after weaning off opioids and appropriate treatment given.

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We cannot expect any medication to work every time. How often can we achieve better results after opioids are tapered off? Opioids may prolong pain in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome where remission seems possible only after they are stopped, yet opioids may be essential in many forms of chronic pain. We need data on the radical experiment to manage pain without opioids, and determine how best to manage chronic pain with them.

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Opioids have a long history of being the drug of choice to treat chronic intractable pain by doctors who lack information and training about other exciting options now coming to the fore. Compounding the problem is the fact that physicians do not know how to diagnose musculoskeletal pain and do not know how that good physical therapy is actually effective.

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Healthcare providers need data about all the options to begin to address the toll that chronic intractable pain exacts and government worldwide need to know what is cost effective and possible. Many countries cannot obtain opioids.

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We must not be insensitive to the financial burden that frustrates patients when they spend tens of thousands of dollars for drugs that provide little if any benefit.

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Investment in developing nonopioid treatments for pain does not even begin to compare to the investment in opioids for pain. The few medication choices we have are not enough. Often they fail to help. Expensive drugs are not the best choice if they are not affordable or they are limited to diabetic neuropathy when more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy have been identified, plus many more types of even more severe neuropathic pain not classified as neuropathy. Shall we continue to ignore all those because FDA has classed these few new drugs for diabetic neuropathy exclusively?

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Let me be clear, prescription of opioids is justified and they are valuable. Opioids are on the World Health Organization list of ten essential drugs. BUT there is little or no research on treatment of intractable pain without opioids.

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Neuropathic pain, nerve pain, is the most difficult to treat. Neuropathy, radiculopathy, transverse myelitis, adhesive arachnoiditis, central pain, RSD, Guillain-Barre, trigeminal neuralgia, Tic Douloureaux, post herpetic neuralgia, to name a few. It is not enough to limit research of neuropathic pain to diabetic neuropathy when it fails to address all other causes. When FDA approves a drug only for diabetic neuropathy, insurers deny the drug for the other 95% of you without diabetes. Insurers may choose to read guidelines as mandates, fiats,  marching orders.

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Neuropathic pain is not the only concern. Physicians do not know how to diagnose musculoskeletal pain. How can they if only 3% of medical schools teach pain management and when doctors do not know how to assess ineffective physical therapy when they have never seen better.

A patient dislocated her hip 7 times, manually repositioned each time in ER. The 6th surgeon impinged a wide band of muscle in the joint causing muscle all down the thigh to bulge 5 to 7 mm high, of rock hard spasm with intense relentless pain. The 7th surgeon had the gentle ability to restore position and release the entrapment. A light touch across the thigh even through clothing can detect the cause. Would a surgeon have discovered to release the entrapment unless she had dislocated a 7th time? Simple muscle strain, undiagnosed by a surgeon who deals with muscle all the time, was not even noticed and he ignored the acute pain it caused. She has now learned how to avoid dislocating that new hip. Had the muscle not been appropriately identified as cause, she would not be able to move by now. But the surgeon should have had the skills to notice instantly before those muscles became chronically strangled. She was referred for manual physical therapy and thankfully, before all else could occur, she dislocated and was repositioned by the 7th surgeon. A wonderful teaching case for a teaching hospital that should be every hospital. Grand Rounds for pain cases.

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MAJOR FUNDING DECLINE IN PAIN RESEARCH

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 BEFORE 2008

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 BEFORE CONGRESS CUT NIH BUDGET BY UNTHINKABLE 30% IN 2010

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Perhaps the biggest impediment to gathering data about pain management is the lack of government funding for pain research and lack of a Pain Institute at NIH. If not, funding will continue to be fragmented and split elsewhere, not to learn about one of the most costly problems in every society.

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In 2008, before the worldwide depression, pain research was in major decline. The AAAS, the American Association for Advancement of Science told us then:

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“Federal funding for pain research is declining sharply, more than 9 percent a year since 2003, according to a new study published in The Journal of Pain. Pain research, as a result, now accounts for only 0.6 percent of all grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), despite the high prevalence of chronic pain in the U.S.

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“This startling finding shows the government’s meager investment in pain research is seriously out of proportion with the widespread chronic pain incidence in our society, which is estimated at one in four Americans and accounts for more than 20 percent of all physician office visits,” said Charles E. Inturrisi, president of the American Pain Society and professor of pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York. “And this disparity is not attributable to years of budget cuts at NIH because the Journal of Pain study clearly shows pain research has a higher percentage decline than the overall NIH budget. So the drop in agency funding has not affected all research areas equally.”

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[emphasis mine.]

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Research in pain was sharply declining prior to 2008. Then a 30% cut across the board in 2010. Thank the American Pain Society for those ancient 2008 figures. No one had ever asked – which is why we need a Pain Institute at NIH.

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Frustration is compounded the last few years by insurers no longer willing to authorize many opioids and non-opioid medications, even generics.

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As for the cost of opioids,  a single opioid for one patient may exceed $80,000 per month when the patient is required to use with another long acting opioid, and often several nonopioid adjuncts just to bring pain down from 9 on scale of 10, to a slightly more bearable 7 or 8 which is severe, relentless and prevents sleep and ability to concentrate. One drug that costs pennies to make, sells for $80,000 a month to allow 4 a day when at least 6 a day are needed and it is only one of many for pain every day.

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Prescription of opioids is justified and may be invaluable.

but there is little or no research on

 treatment of intractable pain without opioids.

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We need national consensus guidelines based on data

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We must do a better job treating intractable pain. We need guidelines that have more to offer than the few opioids and few adjuvants we now have, so few in number, so great the need. Can we know when is it true that opioids are indicated? Our use is many times more than all the other First World countries?

 

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Treatment must be individualized

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Data is needed to guide choice

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Compounded Medications are among the

most useful drugs we have for treatment of intractable pain

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Compounded medications may be the only ones that help, and can reduce pain to zero. We can re-purpose the delivery of any medication, as long as it has been FDA approved. But the last few years insurers have been discontinuing coverage for compounded medications and Medicare has never covered them.

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This must change. Who is funding that political blockade that denies coverage for compounded medicine? The cost may be $120 for one compounded medication vs $80,000 for one opioid. Either way, the person with intractable pain likely needs 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 medications, compounded or not. Who can afford $400 per month out of pocket for compounded medications that work, when insurance will not cover the affordable drugs. Who can afford that out-of-pocket expense if insurers cover nothing for your pain, neither the bright shiny opioid or the compounded sprays, capsules, suspensions, creams, troches, as well as the essential solutions instilled into the bladder for interstitial cystitis?

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This must change. Lawmakers must be called to account for allowing and perpetuating the inhumane taking advantage of those who suffer intractable pain.

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A first step in getting lawmakers to pay attention is to amass a body of compelling data.

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BALANCE IS NEEDED

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The United States as a society cannot afford for pain research to die and go bankrupt and leave only opioids as the standard treatment for hundreds of types of pain. Someone has to begin the needed studies. It does not just bankrupt the patient, it leaves us all bankrupt, the country most importantly. It ends marriages, tears apart families. To be struck down as a child with intractable nerve pain the rest of your life, or be struck in your prime, is devastating. And disability gets routinely denied for pain. Why? Perhaps because pain is taught in only 3% of university medical schools. How are doctors to imagine that pain can end lives when they have no experience seeing how disabling it can be?

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 If doctors cannot see the devastating toll that pain takes,

how can we expect accountants to see it?

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The Study We Need

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Solution

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 To gain a comprehensive and compelling picture of how pain impacts the population and how to effectively treat it we need a large-scale study:

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  • Five years in duration

  • 10,000 outpatients – statistically this must be adjusted to obtain multiple outcomes

  • At five major university teaching hospitals for regional differences

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 Outcomes

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The study will yield important information about the following:

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  • Efficacy

  • Pain Numeric Rating Scores, Percent Improvement

  • Functional Improvement, etc

  • Compounded medications

  • Racial and Gender Disparities

  • Addicts who have chronic pain

  • Top notch manual physical therapy* [see below], not for what passes in most places. This must change ASAP. United States is far behind other countries. Even if the condition is neuropathic, it often becomes musculoskeletal after splinting for months, years

  • Interventional procedures

  • Meditation

    How you brain can heal your body and your body heal your brain.

  • Pain changes DNA, neurotransmitters. Have we permanently changed them with opioids?

  • Polypharmacy. When employing one drug alone is unlikely to lead to a successful outcome.

  • Stem cells for joint pain – autologous lipid derived mesenchymal stem cells

  • rTMS, experimental after 20 years, is it still better for acute than for chronic pain?
    Who will benefit, for how long? How many weeks of relief for that $15,000 investment?

  • Glia, the Innate Immune System

Opioids create pro-inflammatory cytokines that create pain and opioid tolerance.

Restore cytokine balance, reduce inflammation and pain.

Which of our existing medications either trigger or reduce inflammatory cytokines in the CNS?

  • Pain in the person with Alzheimers dementia

  • Danger of combining opioids with benzodiazepines

  • Danger of long term use of opioids (regardless if short or long acting)

  • Appropriateness of using opioids as a first choice in acute pain (loss of a milk tooth, sore throat in a teenager, acute back pain, ankle strain, etc.)

  • Appropriateness of opioid holidays.

  • Post op pain can be avoided completely with combined use of oral low dose naltrexone and ketamine IV anesthesia. Patients discharged directly from recovery room with no need for pain medication for months or years

  • Cost Benefit Analysis

 

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Five Conditions Will Be Studied

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Strong emphasis must be placed on neuropathic pain that so often fails to respond to any intervention

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1. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

The Netherlands invested €25 million over 5 years to study this one devastating pain condition, far out of proportion to the incidence in that small country. There are pain specialists who cannot recognize it and/or doctors who routinely deny disability for this devastating pain, like death in life.

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2. Low Back Pain

Define criteria for surgery.

If we wait too long before surgery is done, will we ever reverse the chronic pain that has set in?

Have we condemned that patient to monthly visits for opioid the remaining 50 years of their life?

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3. Other neuropathic pain conditions such as adhesive arachnoiditis, trigeminal neuralgia, transverse myelitis, Tic Douloureaux, Post Herpetic Neuralgia, Interstitial Cystitis, Vulvodynia, Proctalgia, Pudendal Neuropathy


4. Painful peripheral neuropathy nondiabetic and Painful Small Fiber Neuropathy  all forms of painful neuropathy

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5. You choose – central pain?

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What We Must Do Now

 

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  • Find a pain advocate like the cancer advocate of the 1950’s that changed attitudes for research

  • Fund the pain SUPPORT study

  • This will spin off enormous research ideas that we must begin separately to implement with research as each develops, the need is beyond urgent. How many more years can we make everyone wait?

  • Write letters, to congress, the White House. Real letters, not email, not signature lists. Congress will not hear us unless we speak in very, very large numbers.

  • Help the topic of intractable pain become a part of the 2016 presidential conversation.

  • Incentivize teaching hospitals to teach pain management and to develop options for nonopioid treatment of chronic intractable pain. Pain is a multidisciplinary field, not limited to Anesthesiology procedures.

  • Create an Institute for Pain Management in addition to the 28 institutes at NIH, three of which are for addiction, none for pain. Pain is the number one reason people seek medical help.

  • Require that pain specialists sit on the FDA advisory committees for pain medication – none recently.

  • Require insurance coverage for compounded medications.

  • Prevent FDA from limiting medication to cancer pain.
    Cancer pain does not exist.

    There are basic types of pain that occur in persons who have cancer, neuropathic pain being worse than other forms of “cancer pain.” It has the same medication response or failure to respond as persons whose pain is not due to cancer.

  • How do we restrict the use of opioids to severe pain when there is nothing else to offer and after everyone is started on opioids by their family doctor years before they see a pain specialist?

  • Novel and ancient methods for treatment of pain should be explored including cannabis and possibly hallucinogens

  • Isolation of pharmacologically important medicine from rainforest and deep seas must be done before they disappear.

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Physical Therapy is the #1 Key to Chronic Pain

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Manual Physical Therapy was introduced to the United States in the late 1970’s but is rarely practiced or not done well. It does not mean “hands on.” It derives from techniques brought to us by British Commonwealth and Scandinavian countries. Our healthcare providers do not know how to differentiate between good and useless practices. Fortunes and lives are wasted hinging on that distinction. Pills never can undo the harm brought about by common musculoskeletal issues – and our providers have no training in recognizing simple muscle trigger points, let alone intractable connective tissue contractures. My patients have been misdiagnosed as histrionic, drug seeking, personality disorders, and worse. It boils down to ignorance and lack of basic training, let alone believing what the patient says and not having the tools to help.

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The trend is for year long residency programs following the 3 year Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT).  The year long residency program is a very positive step.  The limitations are that it is a year with a clinical staff that may have a specific perspective.  The push towards evidence based practice is a reasonable step but should not exclude considerations of outside the box treatment options.

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The osteopathic manipulative technique has been a cornerstone of best education for physical therapists.  The craniosacral approach is an offshoot from that tradition.  When we get to visceral mobilization, the evidence is much harder to produce but that does not have me shy away from its application.

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Movement is critical for the hormonal regulation of the body.  Chronic stasis leads to numerous changes that compound an underlying medical diagnosis.  We see that with a 16 y/o female, Lyme’s disease, CRPS diagnosis, bedridden for years.  She is significantly benefiting from stretching dysfunction and improving axial extension.  Another who quit walking had global lower limb connective tissue contracture.  Walking is currently limited by soft tissue contracture through the tarsal tunnel, affecting the plantar nerves and the burning and tingling with walking greater than 5 minutes at a time.  Mobilizing the soft tissues will ultimately restore function. This 20 year old quit college due to pain and one first visit requested motorized wheelchair and Social Security Disability. This young person will walk again.

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There is no end point to this educational process except when we think we know it all.  No certification, no degree, no one course signifies competency.  Ongoing intellectual curiosity is the most important element in preparation.

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Prescription painkiller overdose epidemic in the U.S.

Not in other countries

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Pain Management centers at major universities closed in 1991. They lose money, are time consuming, require team conferences that are not reimbursable. Thus began the era when prescription opioids took off for noncancer pain, and no one was generating nonopioid approaches to chronic pain. Anesthesiologists shifted to procedures – that is their focus after all. Procedures are not applicable to many types of pain.

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“Since 1999, the amount of prescription painkillers prescribed and sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report.”

from the CDC report of prescription painkiller overdose epidemic

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I feel I have failed when I have to point out to my own patient whose pain is severe, that the high dose opioid I have prescribed is not helping, or is creating pain; when I know there are other options which are not available because the FDA has not approved them or because they are prohibitively expensive. I have failed when so many medications I prescribe are not on the formulary.

 

We need a mandatory formulary available for those with intractable pain.

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There were 16,651 deaths from prescription opioids in the U.S.in 2010, “Starting with 4,030 deaths in 1999….” “…nearly 60 percent of the drug overdose deaths (22,134) involved pharmaceutical drugs. Opioid analgesics, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone, were involved in about 3 of every 4 pharmaceutical overdose deaths (16,651).” It’s far higher now. A CDC report stated that one in every 20 U.S. adults has a history of [opioid] use – not abuse, but use.

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Monitor risk, yes, but that should not get all the investment. Many addicts would not be there if there were better treatments for pain, if they had not been given opioids after a minor procedure or injury that is better treated with real therapy, not drugs.

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People with pain do not mention the pain has taken their lives. We may see them as weak. That young child with fractures on the ball field is going to need the best care so pain does not become chronic. Give him or her opioids and opioids cause pain, pain becomes worse, intractable before the 6th grade. That is not an addict, but that child and his or her parents are often treated like addicts, at least with suspicion, drug seeking. What is best for that child with chronic pain when she becomes pregnant? When nursing? Think of our young veterans, some with 3 or 4 different pains, and each type addressed differently. What if either of them was an addict before the pain? If we don’t treat them, they will turn to drugs. What are the best, most efficient, options for treatment of intractable pain? When will we learn? We need to identify and treat before it becomes chronic.

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Chronic pain can be reduced or eliminated in many situations now even possibly without drugs, provided the issue is properly identified – and that will never happen until providers are educated in how to identify first class physical therapy. Further research will help to release persons with intractable pain from the prison that too often makes them feel that life is unbearable and that they can more easily face death. We all need to wake up to this situation.

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If we continue to passively allow nothing to be done, then there may be nothing to help us when we fall into the sudden bind of intractable pain when we wake up one day with shingles or a pinched nerve or when pain of the face prevents us from eating or sleeping or speaking or even wanting to live. It will be too late.

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Sharp like a razor’s edge is the path,
The sages say, difficult to traverse.

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Shall we let those we love hang on the edge while we fail to move this multi-tentacled monster forward? How do we light the fire that enables us to solve this fearful fragmentation of choices?

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See how beautifully it works when the right combinations are brought together?

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Yellow rose blue hibiscus

 

 

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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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Neuroimmunology’s Future – Bioelectronics Treats TNF Diseases – Will replace drug industry


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This is an earth changing, once in a century paradigm shift in medicine.

TNF Alpha Diseases

Bioelectronics reduces TNF alpha

Inflammatory Diseases treated without drugs.

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A novel therapy, never done before, is now in clinical trials with Rheumatoid Arthritis patients and it is working well  – with no medication. Electrical stimulation is reducing TNF-alpha, the inflammatory cytokines that underlie many diseases including pain, cancer, autoimmune diseases and major depression. This is a completely new field of medicine reported by The New York Times Magazine. I strongly recommend reading the entire article as I have only a small clip below.

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Several of the foremost neuroscientists are involved with this, starting with the research of Kevin Tracy in 1998 who proved that stimulating the vagus nerve with electricity would alleviate harmful inflammation. He is a neurosurgeon and President of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y.

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Today researchers are creating implants that can communicate directly with the nervous system in order to try to fight everything from cancer to the common cold. “Our idea would be manipulating neural input to delay the progression of cancer,” says Paul Frenette, a stem-cell researcher at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx who discovered a link between the nervous system and prostate tumors….

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The list of T.N.F. diseases is long,” Tracey said. “So when we created SetPoint” — the start-up he founded in 2007 with a physician and researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston — “we had to figure out what we were going to treat.” They wanted to start with an illness that could be mitigated by blocking tumor necrosis factor and for which new therapies were desperately needed. Rheumatoid arthritis satisfied both criteria. It afflicts about 1 percent of the global population, causing chronic inflammation that erodes joints and eventually makes movement excruciating. And there is no cure for it.

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In September 2011, SetPoint Medical began the world’s first clinical trial to treat rheumatoid-arthritis patients with an implantable nerve stimulator based on Tracey’s discoveries. According to Ralph Zitnik, SetPoint’s chief medical officer, of the 18 patients currently enrolled in the ongoing trial, two-thirds have improved. And some of them were feeling little or no pain just weeks after receiving the implant; the swelling in their joints has disappeared. “We took Kevin’s concept that he worked on for 10 years and made it a reality for people in a real clinical trial,” he says….

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…The biggest challenge is interpreting the conversation between the body’s organs and its nervous system, according to Kris Famm, who runs the newly formed Bioelectronics R. & D. Unit at GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s seventh-largest pharmaceutical company. “No one has really tried to speak the electrical language of the body,” he says. Another obstacle is building small implants, some of them as tiny as a cubic millimeter, robust enough to run powerful microprocessors. Should scientists succeed and bioelectronics become widely adopted, millions of people could one day be walking around with networked computers hooked up to their nervous systems. And that prospect highlights yet another concern the nascent industry will have to confront: the possibility of malignant hacking. As Anand Raghunathan, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue, puts it, bioelectronics “gives me a remote control to someone’s body.”

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Glaxo has also established a $50 million fund to support the science of bioelectronics and is offering a prize of $1 million to the first team that can develop an implantable device that can, by recording and responding to an organ’s electrical signals, exert influence over its function. Instead of drugs, “the treatment is a pattern of electrical impulses,” Famm says. “The information is the treatment.” In addition to rheumatoid arthritis, Famm believes, bioelectronic medicine might someday treat hypertension, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, infertility, obesity and cancer. “This is not a one-trick pony.”

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…The subjects in the trial each underwent a 45-minute operation. A neurosurgeon fixed an inchlong device shaped like a corkscrew to the vagus nerve on the left side of the neck, and then embedded just below the collarbone a silver-dollar-size “pulse generator” that contained a battery and microprocessor programmed to discharge mild shocks from two electrodes. A thin wire made of a platinum alloy connected the two components beneath the skin. Once the implant was turned on, its preprogrammed charge — about one milliamp; a small LED consumes 10 times more electricity — zapped the vagus nerve in 60-second bursts, up to four times a day. Typically, a patient’s throat felt constricted and tingly for a moment. After a week or two, arthritic pain began to subside. Swollen joints shrank, and blood tests that checked for inflammatory markers usually showed striking declines.

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Koopman told me about a 38-year-old trial patient named Mirela Mustacevic whose rheumatoid arthritis was diagnosed when she was 22, and who had since tried nine different medications, including two she had to self-inject. Some of them helped but had nasty side effects, like nausea and skin rashes. Before getting the SetPoint implant in April 2013, she could barely grasp a pencil; now she’s riding her bicycle to the Dutch coast, a near-20-mile round trip from her home. Mustacevic told me: “After the implant, I started to do things I hadn’t done in years — like taking long walks or just putting clothes on in the morning without help. I was ecstatic. When they told me about the surgery, I was a bit worried, because what if something went wrong? I had to think about whether it was worth it. But it was worth it. I got my life back.”

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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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PEA Palmitoylethanolamide – “Glia & Mast Cells as Target, An Anti-Inflammatory & Neuroprotective Lipid Mediator”


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Another oustanding article on palmitoylethanolamide “PEA.” I have seen profound results with it relieving intractable neuropathic pain in a woman with CRPS for years, and I suspect it may help Major Depressive Disorder but that remains to be tested.

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I need to add that opioids create pain. One mechanism by which that occurs is that opioids create pro-inflammatory cytokines, which creates more pain. Patients may see no response to essential pain relieving medications untill they taper off all opioids and allow the system to stabilize. Otherwise, they will have pain forever and it may increase.

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Glia and mast cells as targets for palmitoylethanolamide,

an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective lipid mediator

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Authors  Skaper SD, Facci L, Giusti P.

Mol Neurobiol. 2013 Oct;48(2):340-52.  Epub 2013 Jun 28.

Abstract

Glia are key players in a number of nervous system disorders. Besides releasing glial and neuronal signaling molecules directed to cellular homeostasis, glia respond also to pro-inflammatory signals released from immune-related cells, with the mast cell being of particular interest. A proposed mast cell-glia communication may open new perspectives for designing therapies to target neuroinflammation by differentially modulating activation of non-neuronal cells normally controlling neuronal sensitization-both peripherally and centrally. Mast cells and glia possess endogenous homeostatic mechanisms/molecules that can be upregulated as a result of tissue damage or stimulation of inflammatory responses. Such molecules include the N-acylethanolamines, whose principal family members are the endocannabinoid N-arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide), and its congeners N-stearoylethanolamine, N-oleoylethanolamine, and N-palmitoylethanolamine (PEA). A key role of PEA may be to maintain cellular homeostasis when faced with external stressors provoking, for example, inflammation: PEA is produced and hydrolyzed by microglia, it downmodulates mast cell activation, it increases in glutamate-treated neocortical neurons ex vivo and in injured cortex, and PEA levels increase in the spinal cord of mice with chronic relapsing experimental allergic encephalomyelitis. Applied exogenously, PEA has proven efficacious in mast cell-mediated experimental models of acute and neurogenic inflammation. This fatty acid amide possesses also neuroprotective effects, for example, in a model of spinal cord trauma, in a delayed post-glutamate paradigm of excitotoxic death, and against amyloid β-peptide-induced learning and memory impairment in mice. These actions may be mediated by PEA acting through “receptor pleiotropism,” i.e., both direct and indirect interactions of PEA with different receptor targets, e.g., cannabinoid CB2 and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha.

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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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Oxytocin, Astrocytes, Modification of Amygdala Circuits and Pain – IASP Early Research Career Grant Report


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As a physician who prescribes Oxytocin [OT] and sees profound relief of many forms of intractable pain and/or relief of treatment refractory Major Depressive Disorder or Anxiety and Panic Disorder, this research on mechanisms is deeply meaningful and long awaited. Oxytocin is a hormone made in the brain, but also in the heart and other organs in women and men. It is rare to find work on glia and oxytocin.

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Today the International Association for Study of Pain announced the final report from their 2012 Early Research Career Grant:

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“Dr. Alexander Charlet of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Strasbourg, France, has submitted his final report for his project “Involvement of astrocytes in the endogenous oxytocin modification of amygdala microcircuits….”

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“Dr. Charlet’s project focuses on the functional consequences of endogenous OT release in amygdala microcircuits on nociception and pain. In addition, he aims to decipher the precise mechanism, cellular and molecular, by which OT exerts its action. Thus, the purposes of his project are to characterize in vivo and in vitro the effects of endogenous OT in the amygdala on pain-related symptoms….

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.….”In addition, he was surprised to discover that perceptions of his project’s importance grew once it was awarded and triggered future collaborations: a Marie Curie European Action Career Integration Grant and the French Initiative d’Excellence Attractivity.”

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“As a result, Dr. Charlet also received two major personal prizes: an award from Swiss Society for Biological Psychiatry in 2012 and award from the French Académie nationale de medicine with the prestigious Albert Sézary price in 2013. Finally, he has been recruited as a neurosciences permanent researcher by the CNRS and recently opened his independent lab.”

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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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PeaPure – Palmitoylethanolamide for Nerve Pain or Migraine


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PeaPure is a glial modulator. It is available in Italy and the Netherlands as a food supplement and has been studied in multicenter clinical trials in Europe for several years. It is well tolerated with no side effects and is very helpful for neuropathic pain, headache, and osteoarthritis. It is anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective.

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Because it inhibits astrocyte activation and the over-expression of pro-inflammatory molecules and signals, it is being investigated in Alzheimer’s Disease.

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The mechanism of action of PEA was discovered in 1993 by Nobel laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini in her work on nerve growth factors. She found it is involved in metabolism of mast cells and published a series of papers on its self-healing effect of the body in response to inflammation and pain. Two recent publications from Jan M Keppel Hesselink, MD, PhD, and his colleagues at the Institute for Neuropathic Pain, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, describe case reports, one of which is the case of a woman with CRPS.

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The purpose of this post is to clarify dosing of PeaPure and how to take it for a sudden flare of pain. My apologies for failing to recall the source of these instructions which I believe was from the manufacturer and from here and here. The latter includes an excellent review of its mechanism.

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Description of PeaPure® 400 mg capsules
PeaPure® is a food supplement based on a natural and fatty-acid like compound.
The substance palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is a physiologically active molecule that the body produces naturally.
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What the user should know prior to ingestion:
•    There are no known significant side effects.
•    PeaPure® can be taken simultaneously with other medicine. In case of doubt, it is recommended to first consult your doctor or a pharmacist.
•    Use during pregnancy is NOT recommended.
•    PeaPure® does not contain sugar, yeast, allergens, sorbitol, magnesium stearate, povidone or other ingredients.

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Dosage and administration – please refer to the manufacturer.

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UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2014

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It is with a heavy heart that I report this news:

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Palmitoylethanolamide is

now available only from the Netherlands,

sold as PeaPure, a food supplement.

  It is no longer able to be imported by a pharmacy, but we are hoping

that may change if we can interest a supplement manufacturer to make it available for the US.

Patent rights, attorneys are far beyond the resources of my local pharmacy.

 

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I have published this year, 2014, on the treatment of

vulvodynia and proctodynia with PeaPure and a topical cream.

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There are no studies to show us how often it may relieve nerve pain, but it is astonishing when it works. No toxicity, no side effects. Your brain makes it, plants make it. There is a growing literature on it and I have posted on some of its mechanisms. And in particular, its Anti-inflammatory, Analgesic, Neuroprotective Mechanisms.

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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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Opiates Create Pain – A New Pathway Mediated by Microglia


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Though morphine and other opiates are the gold standard for producing analgesia, paradoxically they may create pain.

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The mechanism, a microglia-to-neuron pathway in the spinal cord, has now been discovered by Ferrini et al. It was published in the on-line edition of Nature Neuroscience

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“Morphine hyperalgesia gated through microglia-mediated

disruption of neuronal Cl homeostasis.”

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Their research was reviewed January 8 in Medical News Today, exerpted below:

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….”Our research identifies a molecular pathway by which morphine can increase pain, and suggests potential new ways to make morphine effective for more patients,” says senior author Dr. Yves De Koninck, Professor at Université Laval in Quebec City. The team included researchers from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec, the US and Italy.

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New pathway in pain management

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The research not only identifies a target pathway to suppress morphine-induced pain but teases apart the pain hypersensitivity caused by morphine from tolerance to morphine, two phenomena previously considered to be caused by the same mechanisms.

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“When morphine doesn’t reduce pain adequately the tendency is to increase the dosage. If a higher dosage produces pain relief, this is the classic picture of morphine tolerance, which is very well known. But sometimes increasing the morphine can, paradoxically, makes the pain worse,” explains co-author Dr. Michael Salter. Dr. Salter is Senior Scientist and Head of Neurosciences & Mental Health at SickKids, Professor of Physiology at University of Toronto, and Canada Research Chair in Neuroplasticity and Pain.

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“Pain experts have thought tolerance and hypersensitivity (or hyperalgesia) are simply different reflections of the same response,” says Dr. De Koninck, “but we discovered that cellular and signalling processes for morphine tolerance are very different from those of morphine-induced pain.”

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Dr. Salter adds, “We identified specialized cells – known as microglia – in the spinal cord as the culprit behind morphine-induced pain hypersensitivity. When morphine acts on certain receptors in microglia, it triggers the cascade of events that ultimately increase, rather than decrease, activity of the pain-transmitting nerve cells.”

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The researchers also identified the molecule responsible for this side effect of morphine. “It’s a protein called KCC2, which regulates the transport of chloride ions and the proper control of sensory signals to the brain,” explains Dr. De Koninck. “Morphine inhibits the activity of this protein, causing abnormal pain perception. By restoring normal KCC2 activity we could potentially prevent pain hypersensitivity.” Dr. De Koninck and researchers at Université Laval are testing new molecules capable of preserving KCC2 functions and thus preventing hyperalgesia.

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The KCC2 pathway appears to apply to short-term as well as to long-term morphine administration, says Dr. De Koninck. “Thus, we have the foundation for new strategies to improve the treatment of post-operative as well as chronic pain.”

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Dr. Salter adds, “Our discovery could have a major impact on individuals with various types of intractable pain, such as that associated with cancer or nerve damage, who have stopped morphine or other opiate medications because of pain hypersensitivity.”

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Cost of pain

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Pain has been labelled the silent health crisis, afflicting tens of millions of people worldwide. Pain has a profound negative effect on the quality of human life. Pain affects nearly all aspects of human existence, with untreated or under-treated pain being the most common cause of disability. The Canadian Pain Society estimates that chronic pain affects at least one in five Canadians and costs Canada $55-60 billion per year, including health care expenses and lost productivity.

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“People with incapacitating pain may be left with no alternatives when our most powerful medications intensify their suffering,” says Dr. De Koninck, who is also Director of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience at Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec.

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Dr. Salter adds, “Pain interferes with many aspects of an individual’s life. Too often, patients with chronic pain feel abandoned and stigmatized. Among the many burdens on individuals and their families, chronic pain is linked to increased risk of suicide. The burden of chronic pain affects children and teens as well as adults.” These risks affect individuals with many types of pain, ranging from migraine and carpel-tunnel syndrome to cancer, AIDS, diabetes, traumatic injuries, Parkinson’s disease and dozens of other conditions.”

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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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RSD/CRPS, Multiple Sclerosis, LDN & Ketamine


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It is rare for me to see a patient who is not complex.

They have failed so many treatments for so many years before they call.

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This is the report of a lovely woman in her early 70’s with progressive Multiple Sclerosis for 30 years and paraplegia that has forced her to use an electric scooter the last 5 years, and power wheelchair the last 2o years. Because of total paralysis of the right lower limb, she fell and shattered her femur, the thigh bone, in August 2009. Tragically, and all too often, the surgeon failed to diagnose Complex Regional Pain Syndrome [CRPS], even failed to visit her in the hospital. CRPS increased the fatigue she had already had from Multiple Sclerosis.

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Thankfully a physical therapist suggested the diagnosis.

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Why is pain management not a required subject for physicians?

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I have written elsewhere that the American Pain Society discovered that our National Institute of Health, NIH, devotes less than half of 1% of their research dollar to pain research. Of 28 NIH institutes, none for pain, three for addiction. This will not change soon. The only hope is that RSDSA.org will succeed in collaborating with all pain organizations, groups with dystonia, chronic fatigue in order to give a voice and research dollar to advances.

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Before seeing me in September, she had 11 sympathetic blocks with no benefit.

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Does it make you wonder why 11 were done?

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How does insurance authorize 11 when 10 had no benefit? I have just learned that a doctor must indicate at least 50% relief before another will be authorized. That explains it.

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Then she was given opioids including tramadal and Butrans patch which rendered her a “zombie,” sedated, poor memory, unable to function. She tried 4 or 5 treatments of Calmare with no benefit but was advised she needed a clear neural pathway for it to work. That was not possible due to the Multiple Sclerosis.
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Lyrica caused severe edema. Gabapentin 1400 mg/day caused weight gain, increased her appetite  more than usual, but she remained on it. She craves sweets more than usual, at times uncontrollably. Perhaps it can be slowly tapered now. Advil 600 mg gave some benefit but caused ulcers that required Nexium.

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Since her initial visit a few weeks ago, she became 60% better during her two week stay.

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I will highlight only two of the new medications started.

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It may also be said that opioids are not the answer.

Opioids may perpetuate pain.
They may produce paradoxical pain or opioid induced hyperalgesia or windup.

They may block the effect of ketamine and other adjuvants that would otherwise lower pain.

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Of importance is that she was not able to tolerate clothing on her right lower limb for three years, not even a sheet, and now she is able to sleep through the night without pain for the first time in three years and able to wear a skirt. This allows her to go out with family to restaurants and even to enjoy shopping with her daughter. Her dose of ketamine is very small relative to most of my patients and she uses it only once or twice a day since most of the new medications have brought her pain down.

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At her first visit one month ago, she rated pain from 6 to 8 on a scale of 10, average 7/10. Now 60% better, ranging from zero to 7, average 4. Yes zero pain, sleeping through the night without pain and waking without pain. She had not been able to tolerate touch to the right thigh or foot and would pull her skirt above the thigh, removing her shoe.

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Now she indicates pain continues to improve.

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Of interest, despite an abundance of concern that low dose naltrexone [LDN] may flare her Multiple Sclerosis, we were easily able to increase the dose to triple what is usually called “LDN.” This did not flare her condition and may be one of the most effective medications she is taking for pain.

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What is LDN?

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The FDA has sanctioned its use in the USA only in doses of 50 to 400 mg for addiction to opioids and alcohol.

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Low dose naltrexone [LDN] is a fascinating medication. It has been used in low dose in persons with Multiple Sclerosis since 1985 when a Harvard trained neurologist in New York City, Dr. Bihari, first discovered that it relieved all disability in some patients with Multiple Sclerosis and prevented recurrent attacks. Since then, doctors in Scotland, where they have the highest incidence of Multiple Sclerosis, find that one of the earliest signs of recovery in this population is relief of neurogenic bladder. It is said that persons with Multiple Sclerosis must remain on LDN for 1.5 years before they might fully assess its value.

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 Multiple Sclerosis may be flared unless very small doses of LDN are used.

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Many with Mulitple Sclerosis cannot tolerate more than 2 or 3 mg, perhaps due to spasticity. There is a great deal of dogma on the web about its mechanism, dosing and timing for off label use. Use the search function on this site to review the prior discussions I posted on LDN, MS, CRPS.

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Naltrexone is a glial modulator.

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What’s that?!

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By serendipity, four years ago I discovered naltrexone in low dose may relieve chronic intractable pain. I had been using it for perhaps eight years in microgram doses but I found in milligram doses it is even more profound.

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The mechanism of naltrexone and a wee bit of glial research is discussed here. The Nobel Prize was awarded last year for the discovery that these glia are your innate immune system. They are profoundly important in many diseases including chronic pain, Major Depression, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimers, Parkinsons Disease, ALS, Autism. They produce inflammatory cytokines that lead to inflammation.

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Now that she has been home for two weeks, on a number of medications that I started, not just the ketamine and LDN, I hope she will comment on her experience and her progress since flying back to the east coast after her brief visit here.

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It is often essential to taper off opioids to allow other medication to work.

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I feel she was able to benefit from these low doses of medication because she tapered off all opioid medication prior to her visit, thus allowing her system to recover and respond to these medications. We will know more in the next few months as she slowly titrates up on some of the medications that were started.

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Next year on her return, we may be able to withdraw some of the medications depending on how well she is doing.

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Finally, ketamine does cause her to have brief side effects. Her husband likens the effect the same as half a glass of wine: “She’s really cute.” Thankfully, most people have no side effects and if they do, they rarely last more than 20 minutes.

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She sends an update below, 80 to 90% better. Hopefully this will continue to improve over the next months as she slowly increases the medication we started. And ketamine has an additive effect in some. It is anti-inflammatory.

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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 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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RSD, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome – a case report


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Severe Pain for Three Years,

 80% better in 10 days

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“This has been life altering.”

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This is a very bright young woman who was an all state volleyball player until onset of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome three years ago in the right hand and wrist. It began after blood was drawn from the hand for a chemistry study and, one week later, the fingers turned black, lost blood flow, followed by emergency surgery for removal of a blood clot from the back of her hand. She woke after surgery, tearing the sheet off due to intense pain on light touch — that is called allodynia — and then developed severe edema from the hand to the shoulder.

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It was four excruciating weeks before the diagnosis of complex regional pain syndrome was made.

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CRPS or RSD is a diagnosis that every MD,

every surgeon, every ER doctor,

every psychiatrist and psychologist, every nurse and therapist should know how to diagnose.

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Because she was a minor, they would not do nerve blocks.

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She developed contractures of the fingers and hand,

was unable to move the fingers.

  A major university hospital diagnosed Munchausen Syndrome;

mom was diagnosed with Munchausen’s by proxy.

.

This happens so often. This is 2012.

If it’s not the doctors,

it’s the insurance companies

creating roadblocks to diagnosis or treatment or both.

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Why is pain management not taught at medical schools?

Only 3% of schools today give 30 hours instruction in four years, Yale most recently.

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At a major university hospital two hours away, she failed to respond to 14 stellate and brachial plexus blocks. But the wound reopened by itself, the stitch fell out. The psychiatry department evaluated her after she was so drugged with methadone, she does not even recall the interview. They diagnosed Munchausen Syndrome. That changed everything. Relationship went sour. Distrust of MD’s began and was confirmed many times in many places along the northeastern corridor and Texas.

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That fall, she became a student at the university of her dreams. The diagnosis of CRPS was confirmed at their university medical center hospital where they wanted to continue the same blocks that had failed. Elsewhere, the chief of a renowned ivy league university pain service wanted to talk to her only about spinal cord stimulators, declined by the family.

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In May 2010, she qualified for an NIH study of neurotropin double blind 6 weeks on, 6 weeks placebo. Failed.

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She was seen by Dr. Schwartzman in Philadelphia October 2011, and sent from there to NYC to rule out neuroma dorsum right hand, negative.

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On Lyrica, she gained 20 lbs, then back to 130 lbs baseline when off of Lyrica. Intolerance to Morphine – hives, Duragesic – total body itching. Ambien – hallucinations, Lunesta – hyper. Benadryl helped somewhat. Detoxing from Nucynta – lips were bright red.

.

Her weight dropped from 130 to 115. Many medications were trialed and failed. Marinol helps pain slightly and gives the best sleep in years, better appetite. It does cause anxiety, but she had not slept in three years, and it gives 4 to 6 hours of good sleep. She developed sharp bitemporal headaches. I advised headache is a side effect of Pristiq —- now thankfully discontinued and better.

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Since August 2011, she has had CRPS pain in the right leg, worse walking, weight bearing.  There is discoloration of the dorsum hand usually, at times along proximal forearm, recently at right foot and leg. She had edema up to the shoulder measuring 30 cm. Nails growth faster at the right hand, possibly less hair growth right hand. Temperature usually cooler on the right hand, at times at night the hand and foot become hotter. No change in sweating noted.

The first year, she had almost total loss of function in the hand with pain and contractures —and forced herself to move the fingers with OT and PT, then home exercise. She still has days when the fingers remain flexed, but 98% of the time there is full movement as she continually tries to use the hand/fingers to write and type. Nose may become ice cold and tingly since CRPS spread to right side of face and right lower limb. At times tingling fingers. She struggles with memory when pain is severe and with lack of sleep.

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Pain ranges 7 to 10, average 8. Edema was significant for one year, now comes and goes. Allodynia is present hands and feet, now a different scale than before when she could not even be in the car.

However, with weight bearing and walking, pain of the right lower limb became most intense.  She will be 21 in July, but on a bad day was unable to leave her bedroom to walk downstairs as pain was too severe. She would communicate with family by loudly calling or texting. It was unthinkable to make plans for the next week due to severe pain. She has osteoporosis with atrophy of the right upper limb, and has had color changes and edema of the hand.

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She lives in an eastern state inland, two hours away from the mid Atlantic seaboard and major medical center. She failed ketamine infusion at a major university medical center on the east coast. The cost and inconvenience was significant and the family did not know that ketamine may fail to have any effect if taking opioid analgesics. Once mom discovered that, she was able to wean off the opioid medication. Ultimately, after many more interventions, much later, in crisis, she did benefit from IV ketamine infusion, and was able to regain some movement of her fingers on the right hand, but there was no lasting relief. It was a struggle to obtain approval through her insurance.

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She has been spending a great deal of time in bed for months. Morning stiffness is widespread for one to two hours. Bending is difficult, feels as if “hit by a bus,” but she does stretching, moving, distraction and Yoga when able.

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Much better in 10 days

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Day one: pain of the entire right side, face, trunk, limbs, rated 7 to 10 on a scale of 10, average 8. She guards the dominant right hand and the signature is difficult. Atrophy of the right upper limb is present, nails longer on the right hand, dusky dark erythema and long jagged scar over the dorsum right hand, mild erythema of the right upper and right lower limbs.

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On the first day, in the office, she tried the first dose of ketamine nasal spray and after a repeat dose, she was puzzled, thinking to herself, then let us know she realized she was able to concentrate. A small dose is not enough to relieve severe pain, but even major depression can vanish at that dose. Two sprays relieved the brain fog of depression; pain was still 8 on a scale of 10. Blood pressure and pulse did not change before and after doses. She felt hopeful.

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In the next few days she was able to do the unthinkable: make plans with friends, walk 45 minutes, become active, and remain active in a way that had not been possible. She was far more active with much less pain.  Over the weekend, six days after she arrived, after we had sequentially added several new medications, she found the dosage of nasal and sublingual ketamine that worked for her. She has actually had times when she was pain free. As noted during prior ketamine infusions, she requires a far higher dose than most patients to achieve effect. The plan now is to use higher doses at home when time permits for best effect, and booster sprays of nasal ketamine as needed when away from home. She can carry it in her pocket. There is no need for ICU infusions and the fight to get insurance coverage for those stays.

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Of great significance, she has even made plans for the entire summer.

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More details of her case will be added, as time permits. For now, this page is here to allow the patient and family and others to send comments. She will continue slow titration of other medications that will take three months before reaching the target dose, before we can assess efficacy. Based on my experience treating chronic intractable neuropathic pain including CRPS, it is possible these medications will be able to stabilize and relieve pain without ketamine.

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See other case reports of treatment of CRPS here, here, and here.

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You can read some of the science of pain, glia and inflammation. Ketamine is significantly anti-inflammatory. Three of her new medications are glial modulators. Treatment of severe chronic pain usually involves rational polypharmacy, not one medication and not medication alone. It requires a holistic approach to heal: P.T., O.T., massage, cognitive behavioral therapy, guided imagery, visualization, positive thinking, remaining active, and other modalities that depend upon the underlying cause: physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial. The treatment for CRPS is not specific for that condition alone, but the gains can be possible with tremendous discipline, effort, single minded determination and the loving support of friends and family.

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Be cautious of spinal cord stimulators. Try everything else first.

They can create pain and scarring or tether the spinal cord.

Be proactive.

Remember that guidelines and strategies for diagnosis and treatment are outdated.

Support RSDSA.org if you can.

They support high quality pain research.

You can go directly to their site or donate to them (not me)

using the link at the top of my site here.

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Patients and doctors do not understand that opioids create pain.

A 2006 publication from Vanderbilt shows how much better pain can be to taper off.

The abstract:

Significant pain reduction in chronic pain patients after detoxification from high-dose opioids.

The article:

Significant pain reduction in chronic pain patients after detoxification from high-dose opioids.

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More on this young woman’s journey coming.

It’s been busy!

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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.

~

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

If you wish an appointment, you will need to telephone my office.

~

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For My Home Page, click here: 

Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Glia a Promising Target for Neuropathic Pain – Ketamine Acting on Glia More Than on Neuronal NMDA Receptors?


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 Three important new articles from March, August and November 2011, show ketamine acts on glia.

Emphasis within articles is mine.

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Microglia: a promising target for treating neuropathic and postoperative pain, and morphine tolerance.

Abstract

Management of chronic pain, such as nerve-injury-induced neuropathic pain associated with diabetic neuropathy, viral infection, and cancer, is a real clinical challenge. Major surgeries, such as breast and thoracic surgery, leg amputation, and coronary artery bypass surgery, also lead to chronic pain in 10-50% of individuals after acute postoperative pain, partly due to surgery-induced nerve injury. Current treatments mainly focus on blocking neurotransmission in the pain pathway and have only resulted in limited success. Ironically, chronic opioid exposure might lead to paradoxical pain. Development of effective therapeutic strategies requires a better understanding of cellular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of neuropathic pain. Progress in pain research points to an important role of microglial cells in the development of chronic pain. Spinal cord microglia are strongly activated after nerve injury, surgical incision, and chronic opioid exposure. Increasing evidence suggests that, under all these conditions, the activated microglia not only exhibit increased expression of microglial markers CD 11 b and Iba 1, but also display elevated phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. Inhibition of spinal cord p38 has been shown to attenuate neuropathic and postoperative pain, as well as morphine-induced antinociceptive tolerance. Activation of p38 in spinal microglia results in increased synthesis and release of the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor and the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-α. These microglia-released mediators can powerfully modulate spinal cord synaptic transmission, leading to increased excitability of dorsal horn neurons, that is, central sensitization, partly via suppressing inhibitory synaptic transmission. Here, we review studies that support the pronociceptive role of microglia in conditions of neuropathic and postoperative pain and opioid tolerance. We conclude that targeting microglial signaling might lead to more effective treatments for devastating chronic pain after diabetic neuropathy, viral infection, cancer, and major surgeries, partly via improving the analgesic efficacy of opioids.

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Ketamine depresses toll-like receptor 3 signaling in spinal microglia in a rat model of neuropathic pain.

Abstract

Reports suggest that microglia play a key role in spinal nerve ligation (SNL)-induced neuropathic pain, and toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) has a substantial role in the activation of spinal microglia and the development of tactile allodynia after nerve injury. In addition, ketamine application could suppress microglial activation in vitro, and ketamine could inhibit proinflammatory gene expression possibly by suppressing TLR-mediated signal transduction. Therefore, the present study was designed to disclose whether intrathecal ketamine could suppress SNL-induced spinal microglial activation and exert some antiallodynic effects on neuropathic pain by suppressing TLR3 activation. Behavioral results showed that intrathecal ketamine attenuated SNL-induced mechanical allodynia, as well as spinal microglial activation, in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, Western blot analysis displayed that ketamine application downregulated SNL-induced phosphorylated-p38 (p-p38) expression, which was specifically expressed in spinal microglia but not in astrocytes or neurons. Besides, ketamine could reverse TLR3 agonist (polyinosine-polycytidylic acid)-induced mechanical allodynia and spinal microglia activation. It was concluded that intrathecal ketamine depresses TLR3-induced spinal microglial p-p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway activation after SNL, probably contributing to the antiallodynic effect of ketamine on SNL-induced neuropathic pain.

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Microglial Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channels are possible molecular targets for the analgesic effects of S-ketamine on neuropathic pain.

Abstract

Ketamine is an important analgesia clinically used for both acute and chronic pain. The acute analgesic effects of ketamine are generally believed to be mediated by the inhibition of NMDA receptors in nociceptive neurons. However, the inhibition of neuronal NMDA receptors cannot fully account for its potent analgesic effects on chronic pain because there is a significant discrepancy between their potencies. The possible effect of ketamine on spinal microglia was first examined because hyperactivation of spinal microglia after nerve injury contributes to neuropathic pain. Optically pure S-ketamine preferentially suppressed the nerve injury-induced development of tactile allodynia and hyperactivation of spinal microglia. S-Ketamine also preferentially inhibited hyperactivation of cultured microglia after treatment with lipopolysaccharide, ATP, or lysophosphatidic acid. We next focused our attention on the Ca(2+)-activated K(+) (K(Ca)) currents in microglia, which are known to induce their hyperactivation and migration. S-Ketamine suppressed both nerve injury-induced large-conductance K(Ca) (BK) currents and 1,3-dihydro-1-[2-hydroxy-5-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl]-5-(trifluoromethyl)-2H-benzimidazol-2-one (NS1619)-induced BK currents in spinal microglia. Furthermore, the intrathecal administration of charybdotoxin, a K(Ca) channel blocker, significantly inhibited the nerve injury-induced tactile allodynia, the expression of P2X(4) receptors, and the synthesis of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in spinal microglia. In contrast, NS1619-induced tactile allodynia was completely inhibited by S-ketamine. These observations strongly suggest that S-ketamine preferentially suppresses the nerve injury-induced hyperactivation and migration of spinal microglia through the blockade of BK channels. Therefore, the preferential inhibition of microglial BK channels in addition to neuronal NMDA receptors may account for the preferential and potent analgesic effects of S-ketamine on neuropathic pain.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only,

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.


For My Home Page, click here: 

Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Gliopathic Pain — when Neuropathic Pain Treatment Fails


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Coming soon, though these stand on their own:

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Modulation of microglia can attenuate neuropathic pain symptoms and enhance morphine effectiveness.

Abstract

Microglia play a crucial role in the maintenance of neuronal homeostasis in the central nervous system, and microglia production of immune factors is believed to play an important role in nociceptive transmission. There is increasing evidence that uncontrolled activation of microglial cells under neuropathic pain conditions induces the release of proinflammatory cytokines (interleukin – IL-1beta, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor – TNF-alpha), complement components (C1q, C3, C4, C5, C5a) and other substances that facilitate pain transmission. Additionally, microglia activation can lead to altered activity of opioid systems and neuropathic pain is characterized by resistance to morphine. Pharmacological attenuation of glial activation represents a novel approach for controlling neuropathic pain. It has been found that propentofylline, pentoxifylline, fluorocitrate and minocycline decrease microglial activation and inhibit proinflammatory cytokines, thereby suppressing the development of neuropathic pain. The results of many studies support the idea that modulation of glial and neuroimmune activation may be a potential therapeutic mechanism for enhancement of morphine analgesia. Researchers and pharmacological companies have embarked on a new approach to the control of microglial activity, which is to search for substances that activate anti-inflammatory cytokines like IL-10. IL-10 is very interesting since it reduces allodynia and hyperalgesia by suppressing the production and activity of TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and IL-6. Some glial inhibitors, which are safe and clinically well tolerated, are potential useful agents for treatment of neuropathic pain and for the prevention of tolerance to morphine analgesia. Targeting glial activation is a clinically promising method for treatment of neuropathic pain.

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Microglia: a promising target for treating neuropathic and postoperative pain, and morphine tolerance.

Source

Department of Anesthesiology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

Abstract

Management of chronic pain, such as nerve-injury-induced neuropathic pain associated with diabetic neuropathy, viral infection, and cancer, is a real clinical challenge. Major surgeries, such as breast and thoracic surgery, leg amputation, and coronary artery bypass surgery, also lead to chronic pain in 10-50% of individuals after acute postoperative pain, partly due to surgery-induced nerve injury. Current treatments mainly focus on blocking neurotransmission in the pain pathway and have only resulted in limited success. Ironically, chronic opioid exposure might lead to paradoxical pain. Development of effective therapeutic strategies requires a better understanding of cellular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of neuropathic pain. Progress in pain research points to an important role of microglial cells in the development of chronic pain. Spinal cord microglia are strongly activated after nerve injury, surgical incision, and chronic opioid exposure. Increasing evidence suggests that, under all these conditions, the activated microglia not only exhibit increased expression of microglial markers CD 11 b and Iba 1, but also display elevated phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. Inhibition of spinal cord p38 has been shown to attenuate neuropathic and postoperative pain, as well as morphine-induced antinociceptive tolerance. Activation of p38 in spinal microglia results in increased synthesis and release of the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor and the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-α. These microglia-released mediators can powerfully modulate spinal cord synaptic transmission, leading to increased excitability of dorsal horn neurons, that is, central sensitization, partly via suppressing inhibitory synaptic transmission. Here, we review studies that support the pronociceptive role of microglia in conditions of neuropathic and postoperative pain and opioid tolerance. We conclude that targeting microglial signaling might lead to more effective treatments for devastating chronic pain after diabetic neuropathy, viral infection, cancer, and major surgeries, partly via improving the analgesic efficacy of opioids.

 

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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:  
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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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