Opioids Kill White Americans – Is it opioids or suicide or addiction or untreated pain?


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Drug Overdoses Propel Rise in

Mortality Rates of Young Whites

New York Times

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Yes, white Americans, headlined yesterday by Gina Kolata and Sarah Cohen, New York Times science writers.  This article points to the highest mortality in young whites. See post early November on the Princeton researchers who reported deaths in white Americans. True, infants and children have severe pain, but this new article is on young white adults.


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Those who are anti-opioid and those who lost a loved one from opioids and heroin (an opioid that helps pain), will send in comments to the paper so that everyone can see how bad opioids are. Most patients who take opioids are too disabled from pain to write.

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Pain is stigmatized, opioids stigmatized, people in pain are stigmatized, doctors who treat pain are stigmatized. Any wonder 97% of medical schools do not teach pain management?

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Is it opioids or suicide or addiction or untreated pain that is killing our youth?

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How many suicides have opioids prevented? Americans make up less than 5% of the global population but consume 80% of the world’s supply of opioid prescription pills. What if your cancer pain now becomes severe intractable chronic pain? Cancer has been changing. The survival rate has increased, and many of these cancer patients treated with opioid therapy, survived the cancer but have residual chronic pain from cancer or its treatment. Surely they are among the 18,000 white people who died.

 

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Please read the earlier post this week on the ethics of opioid treatment, on

CDC’s imminent radical cut in opioid doses for 100 million patients nationwide.

Use search function above photo – type in CDC or DEA.

Your pain. Your lives. Their profit.

A thorny problem.

Tell us what happened to you. Doctors, tell us what you are seeing.

Have you been denied disability due to pain? Denied non-opioid treatment?

Chronic severe pain affects forty million Americans.

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Some insurers have denied or limited non-opioid treatments yet continued expensive opioids for decades. Has your insurance refused your treatment? Pain specialists have been barraged by denials for years.  Please comment below.

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As noted last week, I have spent 15 years developing alternatives to failed opioid treatment for chronic intractable pain and writing about that on these pages since April 2009. But opioids must be available as last resort.

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FACT:

  • Opioids killed almost 18,000 Americans in 2014 – prescription opioids, not street drugs.

  • 40 million American millions with severe pain, millions not thousands

  • 100 million with chronic pain.

  • CDC will imminently, radically cut everyone’s opioid dose

  • Health insurers will oblige, and incidentally show increased profit to shareholders

  • Suicide increases with untreated pain

  • Death rates for “whites ages 25 to 34 was five times its level in 1999”

  • This age group has more injuries from work and play that can lead to disability, job loss

  • Insurance is unaffordable or not purchased by many young adults

  • My own colleagues cannot afford high deductibles – prescriptions are now counted in deductibles, now unaffordable

  • Can you afford $20,000 per month for your opioid or is cheap heroin more affordable? Can you afford your usual drugs on Medicare once you are in the “donut hole.” Can you afford $28 per day, $840 per month for gout, when colchicine was 12 cents a day a couple years ago?

    • Do insurance denials increase liklihood of cheaper alternatives such as heroin or illegal marijuana resulting in death by drug dealer?

    • Do exhorbitant costs of opioids lead insurers to deny your medication?

  • Insurers have refused to pay for abuse-deterrent and tamper-resistant formulations of opioids

  •  Insurers have refused to pay for proven, widely accepted, nonopioid analgesics:

    • Lyrica

    • Horizant

    • Gralise

    • Cymbalta

    • Does it help the DEA and NIH and universities to teach those as nonopioid alternatives when they are not covered and not affordable the rest of your life?

    • Insurers deny every known compounded analgesic though low cost and effective, even for Tricare’s disabled veterans, even 5% lidocaine ointment for nerve pain, dextromethorphan, oxytocin, low dose naltrexone – Stanford published research on naltrexone years ago and now doing research on it again for CRPS, many many others

    • Insurers deny proven analgesics that are used by armed forces, university hospitals, select doctors, for life threatening pain: ketamine

    • Insurers deny off-label analgesics that may work better than opioids, e.g. memantine, an Alzheimers drug – can relieve intractable nerve pain (French publication on CRPS/RSD pain)

    • Insurers deny medications that reduce side effects of opioids, e.g. nonaddicting modafinil popular with students, to increase alertness when opioids cause drowsiness that may cause injury, death – gosh 10 years ago!

    • Is drowsiness the cause of some of those 18,000 opioid deaths?

  • Health insurers have refused coverage for treatments such as P.T., psychotherapy for coping skills, blocks.

  • Insurers deny medications that relieve the withering side effects of opioid withdrawal, making it impossible for many to taper off, e.g. Adderall, Wellbutrin (dopamine)

  • Cannabis, a nonopioid, classified by US Congress as Schedule I, illegal federally for human use, illegal to take on a plane or cross state/national borders, found on meteorites, made by sponges and some of the earliest living species on the planet, used for thousands of years for pain, while cocaine and methamphetamine are classified as Schedule II for prescription purposes.

  • Opioids, even vicodin, require monthly doctor visits, costs, monthly for sixty years

  • Why whites dying of opioids? People of color are denied prescription opioids. Stark data published for decades.

  • Heroin is an opioid, cheap and available; its “unAmerican” – used in England for pain, used thousands of years for pain

  • Untreated pain is one reason people turn to heroin, affordable is another

  • Violence and drinking and taking drugs can begin with chronic pain and job loss, not always the other way around, chicken egg

  • Opioids cost pennies to make, patient’s cost is $20,000 per month for Rx. Insurers paid what the market would bear… in the old days. Who is trapped in the middle of this fight for shareholder profit?

    • How many of us would take 2 or 4 extra pain pills when pain spikes to extreme for days?

    • If you are disabled, can you afford insurance or expensive prescription drugs?

  • “Poverty and stress, for example, are risk factors for misuse of prescription narcotics,” Dr. Hayward said.

  • When you are not getting enough sleep and rest, working too many hours overtime or 3 jobs, inflammation and pain spikes

  • Misuse of opioids in > 33% (perhaps 48%?) of cancer patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in high resource settings when insurance was better, published 1990’s.

  • Cancer pain – usually time limited. Intractable chronic pain – forever.
    .How many jobs will be lost and how many suicides when CDC imminently imposes strict cuts in opioids?

  •  DEA recently requires every pain patient taking opioids, including those with cancer, to be diagnosed “Opioid Dependent” — not only addicts – the same diagnosis for pain patients includes addicts. The term “addiction” has been equated to dependence by most psychiatrist over the past 30 years. It may be interesting to see what criteria are used to define “addiction” if any, in DSM V. Some important members acknowledge that the addition of dependence into addiction in DSM-III was a mistake….the DSM-V criteria will get rid of “abuse”, and will include craving. it will also apparently eliminate the legal/criminal criteria. DSM comments are extracted from here, with many good arguments on this epidemic, such as: “The US is leading the way in eradicating pain, but in doing so has created an unwanted byproduct: painkiller addiction.”
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    What would you want if you had intense chronic pain?

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    “For too many, and especially for too many women,” she said, “they are not in stable relationships, they don’t have jobs, they have children they can’t feed and clothe, and they have no support network.”

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    “It’s not medical care, it’s life,” she said. “There are people whose lives are so hard they break.”

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Opioids kill – or is it untreated pain?

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Pain kills, a maleficent force.

No one can help you. Only you have the tools to do it

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Alarms went off for me on radical opioid cuts in October and I posted when

DEA suddenly held conferences across the nation on sharply cutting opioid doses.

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How many of us especially seniors and male persons refuse to learn or use coping skills that

reduce pain without medication?

How many of us refuse to diet and lose weight to reduce pain and/or disability?

Politicians are sued if they tax sales of sugar loaded soft drinks.

One single can of soda per day exceeds acceptable sugar limits for entire day.

Snacks need to say much much time it takes to burn off fat –

quarter of large pizza 449 calories, walk off 1 hr 23 min;

large coke 140 calories, walk off 30 minutes.

Foods can be anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory.

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Obesity is pro-inflammatory.

So is lack of sleep.

People who sleep with animals in their bed and their bedroom, I’m talking to you.

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Yes, pain is in your mind.

Chronic back pain is no longer in the back, it’s in the brain, the pain matrix.

It’s behavior, not just pills. Pain is an emotional and psychosocial  and spiritual experience.

Work on it! Constantly.

Lord forbid we should teach stress reduction and meditation in grade school

and improve school lunches before kids start looking for heroin for pain.

Yes, kids have chronic pain, are sleep deprived, often obese.

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Isn’t this all un-American?

Injuries, pain, habits, pace activities, learn to avoid and treat pain – start young.

Taxpayers end up paying for ignorance and disability.

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I will soon be posting published research that documents health insurers have refused to pay for nonopioid treatment and how health care policy aimed at all people with chronic pain leads to suicide when drastic cuts are made to opioid doses – Washington State we are looking at you. Florida you’ve made headlines and 60 Minutes TV specials years ago.

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Do please comment below if your health insurer has refused medication, physical therapy, psycho-therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, stress reduction, for chronic pain.

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How many of you have been denied social security disability by doctors who don’t know how to diagnose RSD, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome? Let me know. I will pass on that data to researchers collecting information on untreated pain.

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I have written many times on these pages, and more often than ever these past years as insurers cut back more and more. This will rapidly get worse. We need your data.

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Please send in your stories. You are not alone.

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So many issues. Steven Passik, PhD, was interview by Lynn Webster, MD – emphasis in bold is mine. Dr. Passik pioneered in management of chronic pain and pain in addicts. He has read some of Dr. Webster’s book. “You’re calling, the need for love and connection and all those things in the book, I’ve been – what’s largely lacking is outright, at times animosity towards people with pain and I think there’s a lot of projections sometimes because the therapy – the stigmatized disease – treated in stigmatized people with stigmatized drugs and interventions and so, it’s like a hat trick of stigma.  I’ve been to my share of pain conferences lately that people are really talking about, “Okay, well there’s come a realization that opioid-only, drug-only therapy, is really not going to work to the best majority of this population.  It doesn’t [mean] that opioids should be ignored and we’ll get into that later, but that they’re going to work in isolation and should never been expected to.  And then they start advocating things that are a lot like supportive and cognitive behavioral therapy and to be practiced basically by the primary care physician or the pain doctor.  And the idea that, to me that’s in a way comical because as a psychologist myself, we’re dealing with the system wherein cognitive behavioral therapists can’t even get paid to do cognitive behavioral therapy.  And so, I think something’s got to give, and I think one of the main obstacle is that – and this really gets into the next question as well but I’ll come back to that more specifically – but when people have a set of whatever chronic condition that involves psychiatric motivational, lifestyle, spiritual as well as nociceptive elements, and we put a premium only on what you do to people, prescribed to people, put in people, take out of people, and then that’s only going to relegate the other kinds of treatment or the other kinds of ways in which a caring physician and treatment team would spend time with the patient to the very poorly reimbursed category.  You’ll always going to have a problem with people being treated with the kind of respect that should go along with treating that kind of an illness and it’s not unique even to chronic pain.  I’ve seen treatment scenarios with people who are taking care of people with pancreatic cancer, have an afternoon clinic that has 45 people in it.  I mean how you – something’s got to give in our healthcare systems and I do think that patients are going to have to stand up and say, “I don’t want to be on a conveyor belt.  I want to spend some time and make a connection with the people that are taking care of me and it’s not just about the piece paper in my hands, for a prescription or that I walk out the door with.”

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Clematis Blue.

 The New York Times article further says:

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…This is the smallest proportional and absolute gap in mortality between blacks and whites at these ages for more than a century,” Dr. Skinner said. If the past decade’s trends continue, even without any further progress in AIDS mortality, rates for blacks and whites will be equal in nine years, he said….

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…Not many young people die of any cause. In 2014, there were about 29,000 deaths out of a population of about 25 million whites in the 25-to-34 age group. That number had steadily increased since 2004, rising by about 5,500 — about 24 percent — while the population of the group as a whole rose only 5 percent. In 2004, there were 2,888 deaths from overdoses in that group; in 2014, the number totaled 7,558….

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…For young non-Hispanic whites, the death rate from accidental poisoning — which is mostly drug overdoses — rose to 30 per 100,000 from six over the years 1999 to 2014, and the suicide rate rose to 19.5 per 100,000 from 15, the Times analysis found….

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…For non-Hispanic whites ages 35 to 44, the accidental poisoning rate rose to 29.9 from 9.6 in that period. And for non-Hispanic whites ages 45 to 54 — the group studied by Dr. Case and Dr. Deaton — the poisoning rate rose to 29.9 per 100,000 from 6.7 and the suicide rate rose to 26 per 100,000 from 16, the Times analysis found….

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…Eileen Crimmins, a professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California, said the causes of death in these younger people were largely social — “violence and drinking and taking drugs.” Her research shows that social problems are concentrated in the lower education group.

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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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Please be aware any advertising on this free website is

NOT advocated by me and NOT approved by me.

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Bisphosphonates for Pain – Back Pain, CRPS Pain. Have You Received Pamidronate or Other IV Bisphosphonate for Pain?


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Bisphosphonates have been used for treatment of pain.

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I have reviewed a few studies on pamidronate infusions for pain,  below.

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Based on these small studies, there is a growing rationale for use of I.V. pamidronate in the setting of selected chronic intractable pain syndromes.

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Have you received IV Pamidronate or Reclast or any bisphosphonate

for treatment of pain caused by any condition?

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Bisphosphonates are effective for reducing bone loss and, separate from that mechanism, they have been used to reduce pain in persons with various conditions including Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic back pain, and other conditions.

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After you vote, if you wish to see results, click on the words “View results.” You do not need to sign in or give your email. Simply view results.

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If you have any experience with bisphosphonates even if for osteoporosis, please comment below. Do you know which academic centers are giving IV bisphosphonates for pain?

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The mechanism of pain relief is not clear and there are no standardized protocols for the use of bisphosphonates for pain, but relief of pain is believed to be separate from mechanisms related to bone.

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Many patients have no other options for treatment. There are no large randomized controlled studies – where is NIH funding for pain?

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Many medical treatments do not work for some patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or for chronic low back pain. When all else has failed, pamidronate may be given IV, often in a series of infusions that take up to four hours. There may be some flu-like symptoms for 1 to 3 days after.

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For reasons unknown to us, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is often associated with bone loss in the area of pain. It is more marked and prolonged than in immobilized trauma patients.

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What dose should be used, how often should it be given? Few studies have been published.

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MEDICATIONS for OSTEOPOROSIS

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Bisphosphonate therapy is commonly used for diseases of bone such as osteoporosis or Paget’s Disease, multiple myeloma, bone metastasis, osteogenesis imperfecta, fibrous dysplasia. For example alendronate (Fosamax) or residronate (Actonel) tablets,  pamidronate infusions,  or others.  Zoledronic acid (Reclast) is given IV, usually only once each year. One form of ibandronate (Boniva) is also given IV, usually every 3 months.

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Other medications that are not bisphosphonates are used for osteoporosis such as calcitonin-salmon (Miacalcin) SC or IM injections, Forteo (rhPTH ) SC injections, or estrogen.

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MECHANISM of BISPHOSPHONATES

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Bisphosphonates slow the rate of bone loss, they do not actually build bone. Bone requires a balance of osteoblasts that form new bone, and osteoclasts that resorb bone. Osteoporosis occurs with age and especially with loss of estrogen that dramatically increases loss of bone. Other factors that lead to bone loss are lack of exercise, hormonal, nutritional and genetic predispositions.

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RISKS of OSTEOPOROSIS

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Some of the worst pain I have seen in my career is pain due to fractures of fragile osteoporotic bones. It may be impossible to treat. With osteoporosis, you may simply roll over in bed and 7 rib fractures occur. One woman developed hundreds of fractures throughout her pelvis and was bedridden for years after a very minor incident. Bone stimulators did not help and she could not walk or stand without help. Years later there was a 1-1/2 inch gap between the fractures in her pelvis and of course being inactive and bedridden can only make osteoporosis worse.

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RISK of MEDICATION for OSTEOPOROSIS

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Osteoporosis is more dangerous by far than any medication used to treat it. As with any drug, the benefit must outweigh side effects. Bisphosphonates increase bone thickness and reduce risk of fractures. Osteoporosis medications causes less than 1% risk of bone fractures. Fractures from the medications may be seen in the midshaft of the femur which is the mid thigh; and they may cause osteonecrosis of the TMJ, the jaw bone. Serious problems with bone healing after dental surgery may occur in those who take bisphosphonates. But the risk of osteoporosis is far greater than this small risk.

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Non-bisphosphonates also have dangers: Calcitonin may increase risk of cancer. PTH is the only one that can actually build bone – an anabolic agent that induces bone formation, not just prevent resorption of bone, but abrupt termination leads to rapid loss of bone density. Estrogen increases risk of clotting, thromboembolism that is a risk for stroke.

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Neridronate is a new bisphosphonate available so far only in Europe the last few years. They are making claims that a series of neridronate infusions can reduce pain 100% in persons with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. That seems highly unlikely:  100% effective? Really? Oh, and so far no reports of necrosis of bone. But it has not been available as long as pamidronate, so it may be years before we get a better assessment of this drug that is confirmed by other laboratories.

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PUBLICATIONS

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Dr. Pappagallo published three of the studies below. He is one of the foremost scientist-pain specialists in the world.

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A pilot trial of intravenous pamidronate for chronic low back pain

PAIN, Volume 155, Issue 1 , Pages 108-117, January 2014,  Pappagallo et al, found no serious adverse events.

They tested four groups of 11 subjects (7 active, 4 placebo) at differing doses. They conclude:

i.v. pamidronate, administered as two 90 mg infusions four weeks apart, decreased pain intensity for 6 months in subjects with CLBP.

[Pain was decreased by > 4 points. They showed no relationship between bone density and analgesic response, but did find a relationship between PTH, vitamin D status and pain response.]

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Bisphosphonates are known to have significant analgesic activity in addition to their well-characterized role in inhibiting bone resorption. For example, pamidronate (Aredia®, Novartis), an aminobisphosphonate, demonstrates clinically significant pain relief when administered intravenously for the treatment of Paget’s disease, metastatic breast cancer and osteolytic lesions of multiple myeloma [5], [24], [51]. In addition, i.v. pamidronate has been shown to have analgesic activity in a wide variety of painful conditions, including complex regional pain syndrome [12], [44], [53], fibrous dysplasia [10], recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis [22], [35], ankylosing spondylitis [33], rheumatoid arthritis [31], and others (for review, see [49]). The mechanism(s) of this analgesic effect is not fully known, but antinociceptive effects of pamidronate and other bisphosphonates have been reported in animal models of pain [7], [8], [25], [52]. Inhibition of osteoclast proton secretion and other cellular and molecular mechanisms may contribute to the analgesic effect [37], [54].

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The molecular mechanisms of pamidronate’s analgesic effects are not fully understood. Bisphosphonates are known to inhibit the activity and/or cause apoptosis of osteoclasts [20], [46], which remodel bone by creating an acidic microenvironment via the release of protons through vacuolar H+-ATPase [6], [45]. Osteoclast-induced high concentrations of protons may activate acid-sensing ion channels and transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 channels expressed by small nerve fibers involved in pain signal transmission [37], [42], [54]. Osteoclasts appear to have a role in inflammatory pain adjacent to bone and in the hyperalgesia observed in type IX collagen-deficient mice [2], [37]. Of interest, inhibition of osteoclasts by bisphosphonates in a rat model of degenerative joint disease has recently been found to prevent subchondral bone resorption and cartilage loss, and decrease pain [50]. Clinical findings may also suggest a role for subchondral bone changes in the early development of painful osteoarthritis [13], [36]. Furthermore, the anatomical core structure of the spine is made of bone tissue, and immunohistochemical studies have revealed the presence of a widespread network of peptidergic small sensory fibers throughout the bone marrow, mineralized bone, and periosteum [28], [32]. Thus it is conceivable that: a) nonspecific low back pain (associated with degenerative disk disease or spondylotic disease as in our study population) may be related to sensitization of bone nociceptors, plausibly in the context of subchondral bone resorption (eg, at the vertebral endplates and/or facet joints) and b) inhibition of subchondral osteoclasts (and possibly of other phagocytic or inflammatory bone resident cells) by i.v. pamidronate might be clinically relevant to the treatment of CLBP.

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The responder rate for pamidronate 180 mg increased from 50% at 24 hours after the second infusion to 100% at month 2; the 100% responder rate was maintained at all subsequent time points. [There were 7 patients in each group of this small study.]

(Fig. 3) illustrates that all subjects receiving 180 mg pamidronate had at least 50% pain relief at both 3 and 6 months postinfusion, and approximately 80% of subjects receiving 180 mg pamidronate had 100% pain relief at 6 months.

Fig. 3. Continuous responder analysis. Blue solid line, placebo; red dashed line, 30 mg pamidronate; green dashed/dotted line, 60 mg pamidronate; brown dashed line, 90 mg pamidronate; purple dashed/dotted line, 180 mg pamidronate.

 

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Pamidronate treatment in rheumatology practice: a comprehensive review

Clinical Rheumatology, Volume 28, Issue 12, pp 1359-1364, December 2009, Slobodin et al. from Israel.

The efficacy of pamidronate in patients with spondyloarthropathies; synovitis, acne, pustulosis, hyperostosis, and osteitis syndrome; hypertrophic osteoarthropathy; osteoporotic vertebral fractures; chronic back pain due to disk disease or spinal stenosis; Charcot arthropathy; transient osteoporosis; and complex regional pain syndrome-I, has been demonstrated in more than 40 reports, the majority of which, however, were not controlled studies. In some of reviewed conditions, aside from providing analgesic relief, pamidronate may also have disease-modifying properties. While used in different doses in a variety of rheumatic disorders, pamidronate was generally reported to be well tolerated with an overall good safety profile. Pamidronate may represent an effective and safe choice for a spectrum of rheumatic patients, suffering from intractable musculoskeletal pain, unresponsive to traditionally recommended therapies. Large randomized, controlled studies examining the efficacy of pamidronate in the rheumatic conditions are urgently needed.

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Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS/RSD) and neuropathic pain: role of intravenous bisphosphonates as analgesics. ScientificWorldJournal. 2008;8:229–236Yanow J, Pappagallo M, Pillai L.  They review multiple studies for pain of CRPS.

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Efficacy of pamidronate in complex regional pain syndrome type I. Pain Med. 2004;5:276–280, Robinson JN, Sandom J, Chapman PT from New Zealand.

Pamidronate 60 mg iv was given only one time to 14 patients, 13 placebo controls.

Overall improvements in pain score, patient’s global assessment of disease severity score, and physical function (SF-36) score were noted in the pamidronate group at 3 months, and improvements in role physical (SF-36) score were noted at 1 and 3 months. There was variability in pamidronate response among individuals. CONCLUSIONS: Pamidronate may be a useful treatment option in the management of patients with CRPS Type I. Although treatment response was variable, the majority of patients improved.

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Treatment of chronic mechanical spinal pain with intravenous pamidronate: a review of medical records. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2003;26:678–683, Pappagallo M, Breuer B, Schneider A, Sperber K.

[They] reviewed the charts of 25 patients who had experienced disabling spinal pain for several years, and whom we treated with [iv] pamidronate. None had a history of osteoporotic vertebral fractures or metastatic disease. Pain rating scores decreased in 91% of patients: on a 0–10 numeric rating scale, the mean pain change was 3.6 points and mean percentage change was 41% (P <0.0001).

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Treatment of severe, recalcitrant reflex sympathetic dystrophy: assessment of efficacy and safety of the second generation bisphosphonate pamidronate. Clin Rheumatol. 1997;16:51–56, Cortet B, et al. from France infused 14 patients 1 to 3 days, followed 3 months and in one case for 9 months. “results suggest an efficacy” and they recommended double blind placebo controlled studies.

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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 illegal for me to give medical advice

without seeing you in office for history and examination.

I cannot respond to your medical questions unless you schedule an evaluation.

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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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Spine Fusions: No Better Than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy & Exercise


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Spine Fusions: no better than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exercise

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This reportfrom the Academy of Neurology may help guide you in decision making: 

Deaths, Complications, Higher Costs Accompany Increase in Complex Spine Fusions Among Elderly.

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“Fusion is usually performed for degenerative disc disease for chronic low back pain, but a number of studies have shown that their outcomes are no better than a combination of graded exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy.”

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Tragically, dementia can result from extensive spine surgery. Many factors can contribute to that. If I were having spine surgery, I would look at the data of dementia following open heart surgery and the protective benefits of ketamine given prior to surgery. Ketamine can spare neuronal function. It is neuroprotective. I link to a publication on that in this post. The problem may be that so few physicians are willing to provide ketamine as they may lack information on its use, yet it is one of the safest medications we have, nontoxic and neuroprotective.

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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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Lumbar Epidural Injections & Sympathetic Nerve Blocks


Nerve Block Therapy for Low Back Pain: Show Me the Money and the Science, is the title of an article published in 2002, in the American Pain Society journal Pain.  The author reviewed current studies and questioned the value of lumbar epidural injections and sympathetic nerve blocks.

The scientific evidence to prove efficacy simply was not there.  More importantly, even with fluoroscopy and accurate placement of the needle, the solution reached the desired area only 26% of the time.  The author called for research to test efficacy.

From the current review, we must conclude that lumbar epidural steroid injections and sympathetic nerve blocks produce a large amount of money, with very little science to support their application. Does this mean they are useless? Obviously not; these techniques have some value in acute pain management and should not be completely abandoned. However, their use as a mainstream ( almost knee-jerk ) intervention for acute or chronic low back pain does not appear to be at all justifiable at the scientific level.

The fundamental recommendation is quite obvious. Those pain specialists who use these techniques on a regular basis need to support and initiate some clinical research trials that adequately test these procedures’ efficacy. Without this, the routine application of epidural steroid injections and lumbar sympathetic nerve blocks for acute or chronic low back pain is not evidence based. Therefore, when can it be recommended remains an empirical question.

More recently in March 2007, the American Academy of Neurology studied the issue in depth and published  Practice Guidelines on the Use of Epidural Steroid Injections to Treat Radicular [sciatic] Lumbosacral Pain.

They also found no Level A quality research and did not recommend routine use:

Based on the available evidence, the Therapeutics and Technology Assessment subcommittee concluded that

1) epidural steroid injections may result in some improvement in radicular lumbosacral pain when assessed between 2 and 6 weeks following the injection, compared to control treatments (Level C, Class I-III evidence). The average magnitude of effect is small and generalizability of the observation is limited by the small number of studies, highly selected patient populations, few techniques and doses, and variable comparison treatments;

2) in general, epidural steroid injection for radicular lumbosacral pain does not impact average impairment of function, need for surgery, or provide long-term pain relief beyond 3 months. Their routine use for these indications is not recommended (Level B, Class I-III evidence);

3) there is insufficient evidence to make any recommendation for the use of epidural steroid injections to treat radicular cervical pain (Level U).

This subject will be an intense topic of interest for the Anesthesiology Subcommittee at the annual meeting of the American Pain Society that meets in San Diego May 2009.   At best, epidural injections and nerve blocks are temporizing measures.  If the first one is less than effective, they are often done in a series of three.  One risk of frequent steroid injections is osteoporosis.

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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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