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

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Norway Prioritizes Healthcare for Pain – A Note on Cosmetic Breast Surgery


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Hello Norway! I need an emoji to smile welcome!

Population 5 million – therefore data on pain can be obtained

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534 readers on these pages from Norway in the four years since 2012 got me curious.

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Norway Institute of Public Health is charged to prioritize healthcare for pain.

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Impressive! Very smart.

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“Chronic pain affects about 30 per cent of the adult Norwegian population.”

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In Denmark, “chronic pain patients had four to five times 

more in-patient days in hospital than the general population.”

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Cosmetic breast implants one in five have nerve pain for life.

Implants must be replaced every 10 to 15 years.

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Surprise note from Irish physician on Norway- see below.

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Pain is the most common reason people see a physician. Pain is the most common cause of long term sick leave and disability in Norway, and likely in every first world country. Without doubt every investment in returning people to productive health relieves the burden on the entire country.

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The most common method of treatment is analgesic drugs, and, I would add, the most cost effective.

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Pain is more common in females than males. Cosmetic breast surgery is the most common gift to girls for high school graduation in America. It was of interest to find Norway’s statistics on that:

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In a Norwegian study of young, healthy women who had cosmetic breast surgery, 13 per cent reported spontaneous pain and 20 per cent reported pain when touched one year after surgery (23).” Ahhhh, but implants are a lifetime commitment and depending on style, must be replaced every 10 to 15 years.  Is pain compounded with each overlapping surgery? Scarring? Use of arms? What further issues arise once these women require breast cancer treatment? We know that after breast cancer treatment, chronic neuropathic pain affects between 20% and 50% of women. Obesity has been linked to chronic neuropathic pain developing after breast cancer surgery.


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. 13 per cent had pain after surgery

20 per cent one year later

7 per cent more than they did immediately following surgery –

Is risk compounded when replaced every 10 to 15 years for the next 70 years?

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One in five, 20 per cent with chronic lifelong nerve pain!

Insanity

How can they know? Show them prior to surgery.

 Informed consent: view a video interview of girls who developed nerve pain.

Can it be prevented? Or treat early?

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This is neuropathic pain, the hardest to treat. Miserable.

Light touch elicits intense pain.

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We all routinely underestimate risk of surgery. For true informed consent, it would be essential to show a video interview of girls with postoperative neuropathic pain, explaining the financial cost of chronic neuropathic pain the rest of their lives, how it affects use of the arms and ability to work, how many times they must see an MD every year for pills, how it may get worse over time, what type of pills are required – this educates the surgeons too on how to diagnose and treat nerve pain with sequellae of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and how it affects everyone in their family. Everyone suffers. Many are disabled and agitated by this intense nerve pain.

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How does stress and fear affect risk of cancer and other serious medical diseases?

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We know with rodents, from John Liebeskind’s research with an Israeli team at UCLA in the mid 70’s, pain profoundly increases spread of cancer resulting in quicker death from metastases. Pain kills. He lectured nationwide on this. I posted on his message just weeks ago, December 27. “Pain kills. A malefic force.”  “…pain can accelerate the growth of tumors and increase mortality after tumor challenge.”

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

 

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Twenty percent! Girls don’t know. How could they?

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Does cosmetic breast enlargement at such young age

increase

potential risk of  tumorigenesis, invasiveness, metastasis?

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Trauma (surgery) activates microglia lifelong. Glia never return to baseline.

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Microglia produce inflammatory cytokines –  inflammation.

Inflammation underlies almost all known disease.

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Does breast surgery, any surgery, increase risk of other known disease?

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What does inflammation do to endometriosis and autoimmune risks in this population?

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These are purely speculative thoughts. We cannot know until it is studied longitudinally and prospectively – if ever. Large breasts are very trendy. Obesity is very common; alas it is also pro-inflammatory.

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Postsurgical sequaellae can be extremely challenging. I will try to post two case reports in the near future. They are complex, enlightening, tangled, difficult to diagnose, post-surgical cases. The senior chief of surgery at Mayo Clinic had only seen two prior cases like it in this man who had laparoscopic prostate surgery many years before. Surgical sequaellae cannot be predicted. Large scale surgery in girls for cosmetic reasons have unexpected consequences. What is their cost decades from now?

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Norway Institute of Public Health has very nice data on drugs used, graphed vs time for men and women.  

 

Chronic pain in children and adolescents

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The incidence of chronic pain in children and adolescents is poorly mapped in Norway, but the consumption of analgesics and figures from other countries suggest that chronic pain is also common in adolescence (8). In the Health Interview Survey of 2005, parents reported that 6 per cent of children aged 6-10 years and 12 per cent of adolescents aged 11-15 years had chronic pain symptoms.

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A study of 12-15 year olds in South and North Trøndelag shows that 17 per cent suffered regularly from headaches, abdominal pain, back pain or pain in arms / legs (9). Consumption of analgesic drugs among Norwegian 15-16 year olds is high and has risen considerably since 2001 (10).

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Treatment

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Pain is probably the most common reason for patients to seek health care (26). A Swedish study found that 28 per cent of patients in general practice had one or more medically-defined pain conditions (27) – (my patients have at least 3 or 4). Corresponding figures are found in Denmark (28), where it has also been shown that chronic pain patients had four to five times more in-patient days in hospital than the general population (29). Corresponding figures for Norwegian conditions are unavailable.

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Irish physician comments on Norway

just minutes before writing about Norway! sweet coincidence. He posted on a case report I wrote in 2010 on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and low dose naltrexone, (LDN).

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Dr Edmond O`Flaherty

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I am a primary care physician in Ireland. I have been prescribing LDN for 9 years and it has utterly changed the lives of hundreds of people. The main conditions I see are fibromyalgia, chronic pain, MS, various cancers, Crohns/UC, chronic fatigue/ME, several other auto-immune diseases and one case of Interstitial Cystitis where a 30-year woman had “a fire in her bladder 24 hours a day” and who was due to have a cystectomy (bladder replaced by a plastic bag!) a month later than when she came to me by chance and soon became well.

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TV2 in Norway made a film about LDN in 2013 which was seen by 10 % of the population. The number using it there went from 300 to 15,000 in a few months. It is now on the website of http://www.lowdosenaltrexone.org in America and I was the only doctor outside Norway who was involved. I agreed to partake if they subtitled it in English which they did.

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Yes. Opioids cause pain. Naltexone relieves, and often resolves pain.

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My comment:

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Based on the work posted on these pages, RSDS.org sent scientists and specialists to my office in 2010. Over two days I introduced them to eight of my patients with years of intractable chronic pain, all of whom responded to low dose naltrexone, four of whom required treatment only one month with sustained pain relief   for years! RSDS is now funding a study on LDN for CRPS at Stanford.

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Norway has well known large cities, UNESCO heritage sites and this absolutely gorgeous small seaport village Reine on an island in the Lofoten archipelago, above the Arctic Circle. It was “selected as the most beautiful village in Norway by the largest weekly magazine in Norway (Allers) in the late 1970’s” and is visited by many thousands annually. “Lofoten is known for a distinctive scenery with dramatic mountains and peaks, open sea and sheltered bays, beaches and untouched lands. Though lying within the Arctic Circle, the archipelago experiences one of the world’s largest elevated temperature anomalies relative to its high latitude. Lowest temperature ranges from 28.4 to 35.6 degrees F.  The warmest recording in Svolvær is 30.4 °C (87 °F).

 

 

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Sequoia wildflower

 

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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.

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

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