Insurers Deny Opioids, CVS Refuses to Fill Unless Authorized


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Always something new in this amazing field of pain management where treatment is decided by politicians and insurers.

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Patients and physicians alike have suffered denial of medications without prior authorization for the last 10 years or more. Prior authorization takes enormous time, at times more than one hour for each medication.  Try to picture a full day of seeing patients and an unexpected full day just for prior authorizations that must be fitted into the hours the insurer is open – remember, examiners often leave early, central time, hours ahead of PST. 

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Insurers deny the usual opioid because there is no proof that opioids have ever been proven to help chronic pain and side effects may include constipation, cognitive impairment, overdose and/or death.  

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Insurers routinely deny opioid at lower dosages when I try to taper: giving less is not allowed without prior authorization. Remember, we don’t find out until the patient goes to the pharmacy to fill, and they may wait to fill, then may need the medication that very night to continue their medication. Who is open after hours? 

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One independent 94 year old senior for years has been on fentanyl 12 mcg/hr patch and Oxycontin 10 mg in AM (not PM) for frozen shoulders and arthritis in knees. These are small doses. Denied for 3 or 4 years, so she paid out of pocket, in her 90’s. 

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She walks with a rollator, and wins at bridge games that she plays several times a week. Under my care since 2003, physical therapy has been unsuccessful. With her orthopedist, she receives injections every three months that help arthritis in knees. We had tried appeals including sending entire chart to insurer that included physical therapy note, but insurer insisted on physical therapy again. I asked them to show me one, simply ONE publication that showed physical therapy helpful for severe frozen shoulders present for decades. 

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Now pharmacy refuses to fill her 10 mg Oxycontin and her patch unless insurer authorizes. Her oxygen saturation is 98% which is excellent. Cognitive function is unchanged since 2003. I cannot imagine how she gets dressed as even a few degrees of motion of either shoulder elicits screams of pain. Her daytime caregiver must be dressing her. 

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That’s how we treat our injured, our disabled and our elderly.

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Insurers have authorized $50,000 spinal cord stimulators for years without a single study showing long term proof of efficacy. The potential for permanent damage to spinal cord and potential for accelerated pain syndromes is frightening. See the many comments on this site from patients who have suffered serious medical injury. 

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NIH has failed to adequately fund pain research for decades. But congress has accepted millions from opioid manufacturers and for years FDA approved one new opioid after another, as often as 4 new ones each year. FDA previously approved a nonopioid medication such as Lyrica for neuropathic pain, but in the last few years, a nonopioid Horizant has been approved only for postherpetic neuralgia pain — nerve pain, but only ONE type of nerve pain. Remember, insurers mandate first trying gabapentin for nerve pain, though it was never FDA approved for pain at all. Try to get an off-label non-opioid medication approved for pain. hah!

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Now I have an RN in her 40’s who has severe nerve pain from CRPS in both upper limbs after carpal tunnel surgery. Gabapentin caused severe cognitive dysfunction, improved on Horizant but insurers refused to approve Horizant. The cost for one daily is at least $750, but pain is better using twice daily.

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This week comes a letter from insurer that Revia, naltrexone 50 mg tablet FDA approved for addiction to opioids and alcohol, is no longer covered.

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Psychiatry colleagues tell me the same story. Antidepressants that also help anxiety are not covered but better than taking Xanax that causes memory loss and can be used to overdose.

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Vote for better politicians, not for lies. Insist on NIH research funding for chronic pain management to represent the vast population with chronic pain, not the pittance they allow. 

 

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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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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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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.

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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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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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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

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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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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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

~~~~~

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


 

 

A Turning Point

 

$$$$$ MONEY $$$$$

 

at NIH

 

May not come this way again

 

NIH developing

5-year NIH-wide Strategic Plan

 

 

 

Donate to organizations, below

They can provide feedback to NIH via the

RFI Submission site


 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Pain and stress can inhibit immune function.”

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Pain mediates immune function

 

Importantly

 

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

 

 published in 1984, immune system.

 

Alcohol increases tumor progression, 1992, immune system.

 

It used to be news.

He did not live to see change.

 

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

They want business as usual.

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

Inflammation out of control destroys neurons

 

Fire on the brain

 

 

We must be the change we wish to see

 

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

 

We won’t take it anymore.

 

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

 

 

~ Action needed ~

 

Prices of drugs becoming unaffordable

No new drugs for pain or major depression

Research to repurpose existing drugs

Expose the politics destroying our compounding pharmacies

 

Above all

The #1

Major Priority:

Request NIH to solicit priority call for research on

Glial modulators of the

Innate immune system

 

 

Why?

 

Glia modulate

chronic pain, major depression

and almost every known disease

 

Glia are your innate immune system

 

Inflammation kills

 

 

 

 Stress kills. Inflammation kills.

 

 

Pain kills

 

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

 

 

~ Pain kills ~

 

He lectured all over the country

 

Forty five years ago

 

 

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


 

 

Innate immune system in action

 

Untreated pain suppresses the hormone systems too.

 

Untreated depression – same inflammation kills lives.

 

Where’s the money?

 

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

 

 

 

~ Make a joyful cry to NIH ~

 

They are soliciting input from professional societies

 

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

 

 

Follow and join

 

American Pain Society

 

 

International Association for Pain

celebrating 40 years of pain research

 

 

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association

help for CRPS/RSD  

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Exactly

what is the annual cost of care

as fraction of GDP

for the growing population of Americans on opioids

for one year, for lifetime?

 

 

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

 

 

 

Opioids do not work well for chronic pain

We need better

It’s not just the $600/day price

They just don’t work

 

 

donate

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

Turning point now

May not return

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Re-purpose old drugs

 

 

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

 

 

Request
NIH to solicit a

Special Invitation

for 30 good protocols to

repurpose old drugs

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

donate

 

 

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

Review the NIH Strategic Initiative Plan and their

Request for Information (RFI) and the NIH website

and provide your feedback via the RFI Submission site

 

 

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

 

 

 

Be the change you wish to see

Donate to those organizations

to solicit the change you wish to be

 

 

 

Happy New Year

Rejoice!

There’s money at NIH

 

 

 

 

 

 

The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

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

Relevant comments are welcome.

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

This site is not for email.

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

 

 

 

 

Do You Have Depression? Are you the one who runs into snow wearing shorts?


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Since you were a baby, thermoregulation may be the source of the problem

that triggers your depression or the depression of someone you know.

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You may be a candidate for a research study if you have other key characteristics.

Treatment may help.

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Contact the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation.

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OR

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Demitri Papolos, MD, is the psychiatrist who, in collaboration with many others, has discovered that body temperature appears to be at the origin of this condition:

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Juvenile Bipolar Disorder, Fear of Harm phenotype.

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Dr. Papolos has written many publications and has published a book, with Janice Papolos, describing this serious disorder. “The Papoloses were the first to sound a national alarm about the dangers of using antidepressant and stimulant drugs with this population of children.”

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Either the link to Dr. Papolos or the Research Foundation, above, can give you further information on treatment.

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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 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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I am not affiliated with Dr. Papolos, but wish to call attention to the dedicated academic work they have been doing for this devastating mood disorder. .

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Of interest, thermoregulation appears to be modulated by low dose naltrexone (LDN).

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It has been anecdotally reported to relieve heat intolerance in persons with Multiple Sclerosis.

I have seen a response with Juvenile Bipolar Disorder/Fear of Harm, and

severe postmenopausal hot flashes were completely reversed by LDN.

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Naltrexone blocks the TLR4 receptor. There is a strong literature on TLR4 and temperature regulation. This raises the interesting question whether anyone has done objective studies to show that low dose naltrexone may be modulating temperature in patients. If you have experience with this, please add your 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.

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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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LDN – Low Dose Naltrexone – Prescribing Doctor Videos


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Prescribing Doctor Videos

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The low dose naltrexone, LDN, website is managed by volunteers in England, in particular Linda Elsegood, Trustee. All the videos are no doubt helpful, but I would point out particular interviews:

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Rachel Allen, PhD – England – Dr. Allen received her PhD in Immunology from Oxford, then did work in Cambridge on the innate immune system.  She discusses the innate and adaptive immune system, glia, cytokines, and dendritic cells. This video focuses on Toll-Like Receptors which is where naltrexone acts to block pro-inflammatory cytokines that create pain. The pro-inflammatory cytokines are involved in autoimmune and other diseases.

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Jarred Younger, PhD – Stanford researcher  – has published studies using LDN on persons with fibromyalgia.  He discusses plans for testing it on other conditions possibly including depression and using it for children.

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Pradeep Chopra, MD – Anesthesiologist in Rhode Island – uses LDN for CRPS. With Mark Cooper, PhD, they have published two cases. The publication acknowledges my contribution in teaching them my experience. I have prescribed LDN for years in many persons with intractable pain. Prof. Cooper came to San Diego for two days November 2011, to meet and interview eight of my patients who had 100% responses with LDN for their years of intractable pain. Four responders had been able to discontinue LDN with no further recurrence of pain for years, and four remained on LDN with complete response.

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Since I had no time to publish, Dr. Cooper later asked that I teach Dr. Chopra about LDN which I did over several hours. After noting in the paper that Dr. Chopra’s patient did not fully respond, I suggested to Dr. Chopra that he increase the dosage as I find not all respond to 4.5 mg. A large percentage of persons with intractable pain need higher doses. Finally, there are two populations that need lower doses than 4.5 mg but most persons with pain can be started at that dose.

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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.

~~~~~

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.

.

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

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Ketamine Rapidly Relieves Depression by Restoring Brain Connections


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This research is one of the most dramatic findings in the field of depression and mood disorders. It was published in Science by researchers from Yale and the National Institute of Mental Health, discussed by PBS here.

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The speed with which ketamine can relieve major depression is deeply moving to witness. In my experience prescribing nasal ketamine it works almost 100% of the time. I have discussed ketamine and previous publications on it for Major Depression and PTSD. It is also effective for suicidal and bipolar depression patients.

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Ronald S. Duman, PhD, the lead scientist, reviews his group’s research in this 2011 video:

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Stress and depression leads to structural changes in the brain and these structural changes are reversible.

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Depression affects 17% of the population, almost one in five of the population. Only one third of patients are effectively treated by existing antidepressants, even after many weeks. Nerve growth factors, in particular BDNF, are decreased by stress, with a very significant loss in depressed patients. BDNF produces antidepressant behavior in rodent models of depression.

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BDNF is important for influencing the survival and function of neurons.

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There are certain neurogenic zones in the brain that produce new neurons. Stress decreases the number of new neurons. Chronic antidepressant use increases the numbers and proliferation of these new neurons. Antidepressant treatment increases neurogenesis and this is dependent upon BDNF, this neurotrophic factor.

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[His slide shows] Exercise, Prozac, ECT, antipsychotics, antidepressants increase neurogenesis.

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Not only are there more synapses made by ketamine, but they are a larger size which is indicative of ones that are more functionally connected. Antidepressants take many weeks. A single dose of ketamine rapidly reverses depressive behaviors and loss of connections and completely reverses the decrements that had occurred over several weeks.

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In suicidal patients given ketamine at Yale in the Emergency Room, within a matter of hours, the suicidality is completely reversed. These people are better for weeks after a single dose of ketamine treatment. [emphasis mine]

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Therapeutically ketamine is even more rapidly acting than ECT.

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Ketamine increases BDNF. But research shows its effects are blocked in mice that are deficient in BDNF. Riluzole also influences BDNF, but the side effect profile is so serious that I would not consider prescribing it without more data on safety.

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Safety concerns are often raised in publications regarding chronic ketamine use. Most of my patients have no side effects at all. It is one of the safest medications we have and only a small percentage experience transient side effects. The favorable side effect profile, simplicity and low cost is key. The results for nasal ketamine are not 100%, neither is IV ketamine, but I have patients who respond to nasal spray when they failed IV ketamine. More importantly, they can carry it in their pocket and use as needed.

 

My experience prescribing ketamine goes back almost to the year 2000 for persons with chronic pain who have used ketamine several times daily, and since Spring 2012 for Major Depression. Its effect for depression lasts longer than for chronic intractable pain where it is short lasting. In the past, I prescribed it orally, by mouth, but since late 2011 I have prescribed it in a nasal spray and that form works for depression.

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The neuroprotective action of ketamine has been published since at least 1988.

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Patients can use nasal ketamine as needed. Schedules vary, everyone is different. It is short acting, but it does not stop working.

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However, the use of other adjuvants, such as glial modulators, in treatment of depression is essential to understand, and is now work in progress. The role of inflammation and glia in the pathogenesis of depression has been well established since 2000, and discussed here.

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Does ketamine also restore brain connections in patients with chronic pain? Chronic pain and major depression both lead to brain atrophy and memory loss. Both cause the same imbalance in glial cytokines. Both may respond to glial modulators, e.g. low dose naltrexone among others that have worked in some patients.

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“The original link between ketamine and relief of depression was made at the Connecticut Mental Health Center in New Haven by John Krystal, chair of the department of psychiatry at Yale, and Dennis Charney, now dean of Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, who helped launch clinical trials of ketamine while at the National Institute of Mental Health,” reported by Yale  here.

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I hope to add new approaches to treatment of anxiety that has failed to respond to other interventions.

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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, 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.

.

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.

 .

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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CRPS Two Years, Pain Free on Low Dose Naltrexone


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Girl with CRPS cold type two years, pain free on naltrexone 3 mg

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KR, 17 year old seen 11/4/11, with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome [CRPS] involving left lower limb from foot to hip, onset 3/09. She has nonspecific immune system abnormalities and many food sensitivities that caused leaky gut syndrome and 30 lb weight loss with certain foods causing the stomach to be rock hard and vomit. Elimination diet allowed her to regain 30 lbs.

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CRPS diagnosed February 2011, two years after first symptoms. The leg was cold, purple, mottled with allodynia. Pain had been 9 on scale of 10 for weeks prior to my visit when she was started on prednisone 60 mg x 1 week, 40 mg 1 week, and a few days on 20 mg, dropping her average pain to 4/10. Pain at my visit 11/4/11, ranged from 4 to 9, average 5, that was 40% better after prednisone. She takes a wheelchair to school and for distance, is able to walk short distances with cane, and without cane she concentrates walking slowly to avoid limp. She is very bright, highly motivated and described the limb as cold, aching, throbbing, shooting, stabbing, sharp, tender, burning, exhausting, tiring, miserable, unbearable. Pain severely interfered with walking, work, sleep, enjoyment of life, general activity, and relations with others. At rare times, the limb would jump. Numbness was present posteriorly off and on, especially when sitting, not present when standing.

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She had good health until mononucleosis at age 13 in October 2007. A few weeks later irritable bowel syndrome began (IBS-C), then CRPS began after injury March 2009, reinjury July 2009, then no problems until February 2011. The initial injury occurred when roughhousing with a friend, and her foot pulled her toes in a dorsiflexed position. The next day it was swollen and purple with bruising pain after the first injury. She was in a boot for several weeks. CRPS improved, she went to Peru climbing Machu Pichu when she was reinjured again. The foot was swollen, burning with allodynia. She was taken to a hospital in Chile where they wrapped the foot, advised to take Advil. Once home, she went to physical therapy. It resolved in 6 weeks.

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February 2011, fulfilling PE for high school, she tried out for swim team. Day two, she had pain from kicking in the water and was never able to get back into the water. She was in crutches the next 2.5 months and began physical therapy three times weekly since then. Pain began in the sole of the foot, but a slip and fall in the rain caused pain to spread to the hip. A flare in the past month caused pain much more in the left knee after prolonged sitting for tests. She now takes her wheelchair to school which she began to use early October 2011. She was in the chair consistently two weeks, now only as needed, and never uses it at home. She has used a cane since later April when she got off her crutches. In hot weather, the cold left lower limb sweats profusely. No hair changes. On prednisone, toes nails grow faster. She has used warm and cold compresses to relieve pain. She failed gabapentin when it caused her to be nonfunctional on 900 mg/day with no relief. Lyrica caused hives. Nortriptyline caused personality change, becoming very mean, an Atilla the Hun, opposite her usual good nature. Cymbalta 20 mg – severe dry throat, thick mucous, medications lodged in esophagus. Tried Tramadol 25 mg TID and Naproxen 500 bid.

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Incidentally, she saw a neurologist at Children’s Hospital in 2009 due to sudden onset of diplopia that was found due to allergy to contacts, and resolved with new contacts. She saw an allergist in 2010, and tested positive for nonspecific autoimmune disorder: ANA 1:160 speckled, positive for food sensitivities, and after four months of stopping certain foods, ANA was negative: gluten, dairy, garlic, broccoli, lima beans, banana, asparagus, pineapple, oyster, mushroom. While eating those foods she had IBS-C, stomach would harden, causing vomiting, and she lost 30 lbs, was 120 before —- it is part of the leaky gut syndrome that prevented her to absorb certain nutrients. She has regained weight and all symptoms resolved. She does not have dry mouth or dry eyes. She is sensitive to normal doses of medications like her grandmother.

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Exam: Toes are cold on the left. At the moment, no changes in hair, skin color, temperature, sweating. Stretch reflexes symmetrical, brisk in both lower limbs. She uses a cane but is able to walk slowly without limp, carefully, holding both arms stiffly at her side as she concentrates on walking. Sensory examination was not detailed due to patient discomfort and long trip from home that was very tiring.

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Treatment: Prednisone was rapidly tapered off. Begin 1 mg low dose naltrexone [LDN]. Begin N-acetyl cysteine [NAC] 600 mg x 3/day for “cold” CRPS – it is reported to take 3 or 4 months to help.

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Reponse: Mom wrote a few days later, “On the way home from our visit in La Jolla, K started to experience sensation in her leg. You had asked her at the appointment if she had numbness and she could feel some in the back of her leg. She didn’t realize the extent of it. The Naltrexone [1 mg] seems to be awakening areas of her leg. She has felt more muscle pain as well. She feels this may be because she is able to use more muscles in her leg with the increased feeling. She also had her foot stepped on the next day (Saturday). In the past, she would have been incapacitated with the pain for a couple weeks. With the Naltrexone, she felt very little pain at all. We were both very excited to see these changes. 🙂 She is at about a level 3 to 4 in pain.”

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Encouraged mom to continue increasing LDN as tolerated.

11/16/11, ” K is pain free at 3 mg of Naltrexone. We are not sure of any side effects at that level as she has a cold/flu and has had nausea and headaches. She does not have any sleep issues so far. K thought the Delsym was making her lightheaded. She will start it again as soon as she is feeling better.…

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Needless to say, it makes me very happy to know I am able to help someone in pain, especially a child.

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11/21/11: “We are thrilled too! The only things she is taking is the NAC and the naltrexone. When she tried 2mgs the pain receded to just the upper back of the leg. She also noticed the minor cut she had that day burned a lot. At 3mg all pain just vanished. I can’t tell you how excited we are. Her muscles are a bit sore in the leg as she is exerting herself more in physical therapy…. I am interested to see K’s next autoimmune text results in 6 months. I am wondering whether her Autoimmune test results will be negative from taking the naltrexone.”

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1/15/12, “K has been using the LDN at 4 mg and it is working better for her….Once K has recovered from the mononucleosis and is back on her feet again she will know for sure whether her leg pain is gone when standing in one position. If not, she will try the dose at 5 mg and let you know how that goes.”

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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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Case Reports – Fibromyalgia, Spinal Stenosis, Disc Disease, CRPS, Transverse Myelitis, Central Pain


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Glial research key to intractable pain?

These are not ordinary cases.

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These patients have failed every known treatment for years under the care of well known specialists.

They show a remarkable and lasting response to these simple medications.

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The response is important because these medications are 

(1) available, low dose, nontoxic medications largely ignored by the medical community for pain,

(2) glial modulators, and

 (3) more glial research is urgently needed for millions with intractable pain.

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May 2011: The World Health Organization says undertreated pain is America’s #1 public health problem

Department of Health and Human Services says that patients with chronic pain

outnumber patients with heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined

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Fibromyalgia Disabling, Responds to LDN & Dextromethorphan

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AP, 75 years old with scoliosis, restless legs syndrome, anxiety, seen 8/6/04: Onset of fibromyalgia in 2000 after losing half her investment portfolio. It began with acute onset of severe arthralgias, myalgias, fatigue without fever, that prevented her from returning to her business as an art dealer for corporations, private collections. It disappeared without a trace suddenly in 2 months. She was nearly bedridden, just able to sit in a chair, diagnosed as fibromyalgia by a rheumatologist.

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Two years ago, pain, fatigue and “brain fog” returned in 2002, now disabled with intense muscle ache across upper and lower back, circumferentially in thighs/legs, everywhere except head, trunk, feet, fingers – stable since acute onset, markedly interferes with activity, mood, thinking, walking, sleeping, doing her checking account and driving. Pain ranges 2 to 10, average 4 to 5. Burning pain is recent, across upper thoracic and arms, avoids simple activity to avoid flare.  She rated moderate depression due to pain and inability to be active and live a social life. She has been unable to resume walking, a favorite activity. Exam: very anxious, muscle tenderness 18 points, including buttocks, calves, iliotibial bands, right cervical-thoracic paraspinal more than left. Spine tender at almost every level, maximal at L4-5. Sciatic notches tender. Both legs severely discolored brown from chronic venous insufficiency. Gait very slow, wide based later found due to cerebellar atrophy (MRI).

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Oxycontin was started and changed to fentanyl 50 mcg/hr every 72 hours. Fentanyl was then decreased to 25 mcg/hr after adding Fentora 100 mcg twice daily, Lyrica 50 mg at bedtime, with mirtazepine 15 mg and temazepam 15 mg for sleep. She continued to have marked difficulty walking, concentrating, thinking, and was unable to drive or do her checking account. Constant issues with constipation required multiple preparations for stool softener, laxatives, anti-emetics; hypertension was difficult to control, and she had high anxiety and stress.

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Fibromyalgia was then helped somewhat by pramipexole 0.5 mg twice daily, amitriptyline 20 to 50 mg/day, Lidoderm 5% patches 3 per day, clonidine 0.1 mg twice daily, that allowed fentanyl patch to be discontinued and lowered her opioid requirement down to Fentora 100 mcg bid, still with some constipation but less.

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11/3/08, started low dose naltrexone [LDN] 1 mg – slept only 3 hours that night. On 4 mg, no sleep at all, 1 mg somewhat better, 2 nights after that back to usual sleep but Pain levels low 0 to 3 limited to low back ache.  Before LDN,  pain ranged from 3 to 8, average 5. She had no withdrawal from opioids.  BM’s were excellent for at least 3 days.  Sinemet 25/100 replaced Fentora for restless legs syndrome.

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However, LDN was discontinued a few weeks later as she had so much energy she was hypomanic. Months later she again developed some pain.

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4/8/09 started Delsym 2 teaspoons every 12 hours. Pain dropped to zero. She never needed opioid again, had no withdrawal. A dose of Delsym is the same as long acting dextromethorphan [DM] 60 mg capsules, but 60 mg was too strong for her —- she became hypomanic again. DM allowed her to become pain free. She stopped DM 10 days, feeling so great she forgot to take it until low back pain returned initially mild, then severe. “I started getting back pain, I thought it was just back pain. I have scoliosis, then it became very severe, then realized am I getting fibromyalgia again.”

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After resuming DM, it took only 3 days for pain to come down from 10 to 3-4, then less and less to 1-2 on scale of 10. She was back on DM 4 days. Today, after being off DM and getting return of pain, she is now still using a Lidoderm 5% patch daily to the low back and occasional Aspercreme to groin qhs. Did not need to use these when pain was zero.

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She is 80 years old feeling better than she felt when she was 50!  “My biggest problem is slowing down. I’m 80. I enjoy doing what I’m doing. I like being alive. I’m a little hyper so I stopped drinking coffee.  Hyper because so excited about life, and catching up to what I could have done.” She is now able to clean and organize things she put off for years while in pain. She began designing bathrooms and kitchens for more than one location and waking up after 6 hours of sleep to begin work all day. Her husband describes her as having the energy of ten people. He needs to interrupt her to stop work and have lunch.

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“It changed my outlook, I’m so much happier. I am in heaven. I am back to my mental age of 50. I feel alive with energy, vibrance, lust for life. I drive clearly, I have a brain, my reaction to the wheel, to moving and turning and seeing things is better.”

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10-19-09, with mild recurrence of pain, she was advised to continue DM 60 mg  AM and PM, add naltrexone 4.5 mg PM, continue both for 1 or 2 weeks and discontinue if no more pain.

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7-26-10, experimented with timing and dosage, 4.5 mg LDN best at 5 or 7 AM, 2 to 4 PM, and bedtime.  DM 60 mg twice daily. Voltaren gel qd < 1/2 tsp total in AM only at times variously at hips, back, medial arms, groin, thighs, behind knees where pain occurs when it occurs. Rates pain 0 to 2, avg 0. Has pain if waits too long to take LDN too long.

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“I feel wonderful. I don’t feel high. Normal, comfortable at ease, mentally clear – more than in years, memory is better – even helped dyslexia. Now I’m able to skim reading.” She reads faster, is able to multitask ten things at once and get them all done. Husband says, ”She has boundless energy.” Biggest problem is instability gait, wobbles. Fear of falling. Fell backwards in bedroom one month ago,a  trip and fall onto her back, bruised posterior thoracic and right arm. Had home PT. She works out in gym, treadmill daily. Exam: 2/3 of proximal legs and both feet now normal skin color. Gait slowed. Wide based. MS and mood – excellent. Drowsy [never sits still at home].

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Fall 2010, husband reports her gait markedly improved, faster, more stable after dental prothesis. She is walking faster. She is now 82 and full of energy. Visits initially were monthly for several years while on opioid analgesics, now seen 2 or 3 times a year for minor adjustments and off opioids since 2008.

`

Of course all specialists have stories of unusual responses,

but these are responses to the combination of medications that I use, that are not used by other MD’s.

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Transverse Myelitis Responding to Low Dose Naltrexone

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There is currently no known treatment for Transverse Myelitis. It is very rare, if ever possible, to be able to reverse lesions of the brain and spinal cord seen on MRI, especially if chronic. This man is responding to this tiny dose of naltrexone, 1/6th or 1/8th of the smallest tablet.

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FB, 47 year old male triathlete seen 11/1/10. He was in excellent health until 11/09. He began to have interscapular pain worse on the left, days later a band around the waist approximately T8-T10 described as “muscular” discomfort, later with numbness in the same area, followed by weakness, spasticity of the left lower limb and atrophy. Intermittent Lhermitte’s, now resolved. Hypersensitivity to sensation of his shirt across his chest and shoulders lasted 4 to 6 weeks with initial onset. Initially misdiagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis. MRI and spinal fluid led to diagnosis of transverse myelitis.

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On 3/11/10, MRI cervical and thoracic cord [probably the second MRI of two sets of MRI’s] showed extensive parenchymatous lesions extending at least 10 segments from T1-T10 with extra-axial fluid collection that appears as an extensive arachnoid cyst over multiple levels. No obvious cord compression. CSF Mixed lymphocytes with reactive pleocytosis, WBC 2/cu mm, 97% lymphs, 3% monos.

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Diagnoses  11/1/10:  Transverse myelitis with foot drop, spastic monoparesis, atrophy of the left lower extremity, neurogenic bladder, constipation, band around the lower thoracic “waist” onset 11/09, self-treated by injections of B12 with declofenac.   He also had gluten intolerance – eating gluten flares above symptoms

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1/27/11, return visit: “I feel l ike I’ve come light years away” compared to one year ago.

Low dose naltrexone [LDN]  prescribed November 2010, took for few months. Felt immediate effects, improved in strength at left lower extremity, foot drop still present but no longer catches toes on curbs or steps.

He increased dose to 7 or 8 mg, began to feel slightly weird, mild insomnia, like head felt a little weird. Stopped LDN a couple months.

Resumed LDN April 2011,  and again began to feel positive effects; used it daily since then, probably 6 to 7 mg/day.

Resolved: burning pain both feet had radiated up the calves when seen 11/10 ––> discontinued gabapentin one year ago, about 1/10.

Resolved: banding around the waist.

Improved strength 30%  in left lower extremity, still unable to push off with the left foot, but no pain.

Improved: Occasionally used to get a trembling in the left leg evenings 7 or 8 pm, shaking every 20 secs for an hour, at times preventing sleep – resolved about 4 months ago, occurs now perhaps 1 or 2 days a month.

Improved bladder urgency, must find toilet 3 minutes before he voids, now limited to the first 3 hours of the morning.  Before, he could not be far from restroom. Rectal sphincter feels weak.

~

In December 2011, he felt symptoms were plateauing, slowly getting better. Went on vacation in January, ran out of LDN for 11 days and is today 30% weaker. That was the longest time he has been off LDN in the last 9 months. The left leg feels a little like spaghetti. When on LDN, he felt stronger when lifting the leg.

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Sleep: When began LDN, had 3 or 4 months of vivid dreaming, but urinated during sleep 2 or 3 times a month while have the vivid dream that he was voiding. That resolved.

Still has weird sensations: right foot a little burning sensation, not pain, of the whole foot, lasting 1 or 2 hours, quite tolerable, nothing like it was before when pain radiated to the calves of both legs.

His medications:  LDN, vitamin D3, alpha lipoic acid, Fish oil 2 or 3/day,

Every couple weeks he gets an injection of B12 and diclofenac 2 vials to buttock and feels definite benefit – I warned not to use diclofenac due to high risk of heart attack, cardiac arrhythmias with this NSAID.

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Spinal Stenosis Pain Responds to Nasal Ketamine

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ML, 81 year old diabetic woman with heart surgery 9 months ago, reports that she was able to walk 26 miles a day in Snow Canyon Utah 10 years ago, but barely able to walk room to room the last year due to lumbar pain and weakness from spinal stenosis. Function failed to benefit from tramadol 100 mg x 3/day and she disliked the side effects. Gabapentin failed to help, but when she tried to stop, she had severe nausea and she lost so much weight in four days that her endocrinologist advised her to resume it.

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Nasal ketamine was started with excellent results allowing her to walk again. Unfortunately, on her own, she abruptly and almost immediately stopped tramadol which resulted in severe opioid withdrawal: severe vomiting, dry heaves and watery diarrhea for 48 hours. She was admitted via ER with chest pressure and muscle strain of abdominal muscles from vomiting. EKG and chemistry ruled out heart attack. Low potassium was corrected and she returned home the next day delighted with pain control.

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A few days after hospital discharge she reports: “Feeling good, actually exercising in the pool every day, 30 minutes without stopping.” Weather here has been sunny 80 degrees this January. “I never built back my stamina after the heart surgery because of the pain.  I think I am finally on the right  track and it feels good!!” Her son is coming over to walk around the block with her tomorrow.

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 Complex Regional Pain Syndrome 70% Better in 6 Weeks after Opioid Detox,

Responding to Low Dose Naltrexone, Ketamine, Lamotrigine, Memantine

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AD, 23 year old male athlete with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome [CRPS] caused him to be bedridden 4.5 years on opioids. Pain was so severe he was unable to eat and lost 30 pounds of muscle. He was slowly able to bear weight and walk 5 or 6 steps with an underarm crutch, but used a wheelchair when not in bed. Fatigue was severe and unbearable just to be out of bed a few minutes. Pain involved all limbs, but focused at the cold right lower extremity, particularly the knee where he had maximal pain. He is tall and weighed 110 pounds when first seen July 2011.

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I advise patients that opioids create pain.  I am guided by a colleague who detoxed thousands of persons in pain over a 20 year period and never once found the patient had more pain after detox. Confirming this, Baron and McDonald published Significant pain reduction in chronic pain patients after detoxification from high-dose opioids in 2006. Some of the science  is discussed here.

~in 2006

This young man decided the night of his first visit to stop opioids and was admitted for symptom control with opioid withdrawal. He was started on low dose naltrexone [LDN], N-acetyl cysteine, dextromethorphan, slow titration of lamotrigine and memantine slow titration, and oral ketamine. Six weeks later he returned and rated himself 70% better, no longer in a wheelchair, not needing a crutch, but still with significant fatigue that caused him to need to lie down during the day. However, he was able to return to his MBA program by September and is doing well in college.

~

~

  CRPS pain 70% Better in 6 weeks on Low Dose Naltrexone [LDN], Patient with ALS

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FG,  a 71 year old woman with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome [CRPS] and severe burning pain in the legs that markedly interfered with sleep, was seen in fall 2011 for pain in the legs that began two years ago after thoracic fusion October 2009, with cage and titanium rods T4-T9. Disc at T5-6 was compressing the spinal cord and there was an asymptomatic T4-T5 compression fracture 4 to 5 years ago. After thoracic fusion she was able to use a walker for a time, but had weakness progressing to paraplegia and had been in a wheelchair for 6 months. ALS was diagnosed at two university medical centers. Her feet were deep purple, swollen twice their size. and now back to normal size after 7 low power laser treatments. She was now having a frequent ache in both deltoids for a few months from needing to use her arms to push up from the wheelchair. Recently she had severe weight loss with shortness of breath, and during sleep used CPAP for obstructive sleep apnea. Polymyalgia rheumatic from year 2000 was in remission – she’d been on prednisone 5 years until 2005. Breathing was shallow, FVC 1.72 is 54% of predicted.

~

She had a spinal cord stimulator at T10-11.

Medications tried and failed: Cymbalta 30 mg maximum dose, Neurontin 400 mg BID maximum dose, Lyrica dose unknown. Fentanyl patches no effect.

Methadone 25 mg/day for 1.5 years, is the only medication that helps, estimated 80% relief, nevertheless described pain as severe. She used it 5 of 7 days. With ALS causing progressive respiratory difficulty consistent with neuromuscular disease, it was deemed dangerous to continue an opioid. 

~

Low dose naltrexone 4.5 mg to be started after all methadone is out of her system. She was started on N-acetyl cysteine 600 mg capsules x 3/day – the standard of care in Netherlands since 1995 for cold CRPS. Lamictal 25 mg, to begin 1 daily for 2 weeks and slowly titrate to 300 mg per day.

~

On return 6 seeks later, she was delighted to report 70% relief of pain. She plans to return if pain progresses.

~

~

Complex Lumbar Disc Disease Markedly Better with Low Dose Naltrexone 

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CL, first seen age 57, December 2004, for pain right buttock radiating to right leg due to degenerative disc disease with lumbar radiculitis. She injured the right knee four weeks prior after giveaway weakness of the right leg. After the recent lumbar laminectomy in June 2003, she had done well only during the months of October, November, December before she herniated the lumbar disc at L3-4 and declined further surgery. The flare occurred after sitting in a chair for 4 hours taking a class. Symptoms were similar to those she had prior to extensive lumbar surgery but she declined repeat surgery. On Exam, she had positive straight leg raising at 45 degrees bilaterally and diminished reflex right knee, but motor, sensory exam was otherwise intact.

  ~

She had received epidurals perhaps 6 per year from 1999 until December 2004, posing a risk for osteoporosis, and she had symptoms of probable ulcer disease from a steroid dose pack. She had extreme pain during the epidural, but got fairly good relief for only one to two months. Pain in the leg now is 50% less from the recent epidural but will it last?

~

Past Surgery: Cervical laminectomy and fusion C5-C7 with anterior plate, lumbar hemi-laminotomies L3 to S1 on the right and discectomy right L3-L4 in June 2003. MRI done after surgery 4/30/04: 1.  Large right paracentral recurrent disc herniation filling right lateral recess at L3-4. 2.  Asymmetrical right foraminal & extraforaminal disc protrusion at L4-5.  3. L5-S1, mild right foraminal stenosis due to facet hypertrophy & asymmetrical disc bulging on the right.

~

She was started with a Fentanyl patch then changed to Oxycontin but continued difficulty walking, standing, lifting. Flying to Boston to see her son would result in being bedridden for the week in Boston and after returning home. However, a few days prior to another trip to Boston, Namenda 5 mg profoundly helped back pain. She was no longer bedridden but was able to travel up and down the East coast and fly home with markedly improved function. Stretching, doing yoga. Walked briskly on beach with son for quite some time.

~

On  8/31/09 , surgery for hyperparathyroidism removed two parathyroid glands on left side, biopsied on right.  Back pain “killing me” on left lumbar side postop, hospital 1-1/2” mattress caused flare. She was not back on Namenda 5 mg as it was too painful to swallow and expensive on her budget.

~

Low dose naltrexone [LDN] was started 12/12/08, after stopping the Fentanyl patch 2 days previously. On January 2009, she reported: “My pain level dropped to about 2-3 at that time and was down to 1 by Dec. 15th. With the patch still in by bloodstream for those few days my pain level never really spiked.  There was a very even transition from the patch to the LDN. What I do know is that my pain level has remained at about a 1-2 for the past month, even with an increased stress level and much time spent on my feet. [She has had lifelong insomnia.] It hasn’t changed my sleep pattern at all.  I still take the Temazepam several times to help me sleep a little bit better. I’m very happy that the LDN has given me so much relief from the pain I’ve dealt with for over 5 years.”

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1/29/12, she emails, “Although my lower back pain is pretty well controlled, my right knee pain prohibits me from doing many things that I would like to do. However, I had a significant event last night.

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I awoke at 3AM with terrible stabbing pain going from my right knee to my right foot. I was in too much pain to deal with the Ketamine spray on a Q-tip, so I just used 3 sprays in each nostril, pinched my nostrils together, and tilted my head back slightly. The pain was completely gone in 30 seconds and I was able to go back to sleep immediately. 

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I used the 50mg/ml dose since I haven’t picked up the stronger spray yet. It was amazing! I’ve continued to use the nasal Ketamine today and it has helped considerably, though not as dramatically as it did at 3AM.

[P.T.] told me there’s nothing more he can do for me.  He said he’d be happy to help me with my re-hab after my knee replacement.  So now I guess I will just have to hope that [my rheumatologist] will be able to offer me some pain relief with hyaluronic acid injections until I can convince myself that a replacement is the only solution.

So the LDN and the Ketamine spray are my constant companions for now.

~~

~

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 Right Upper Quadrant & Ribs After Laparoscopic Gall Bladder Surgery Better with LDN

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CR, 40 year old engineer with scoliosis who had been a triathlete. She first saw me on 6/6/05 for persistent, intense, right upper quadrant abdominal and rib pain that began immediately after laparoscopic gall bladder surgery on 11/17/04, associated with severe fatigue. Pain in the abdominal area was so acute after surgery that she couldn’t swim for four months. Pain impaired breathing and ability to stand erect. She became a long distance swimmer as she now could not do a flip in a pool, run, bike or take part in other sports. Severe pain was triggered even by slight jogging, jarring, vibrations forcing her to buy another car. Positions that relieved right rib pain, made scoliosis worse. Prednisone last year caused loss of memory for  > 1 month of work projects.

~

Spasm along the right lower rib was so severe she once fell out of bed. A cardiologist and neurologist advised removing the lower ribs.

~

Pain was constant mild to moderate at right lower ribs with muscle spasm at the right epigastric area,  intermittently severe stabbing, tender, penetrating, burning.  She describes the pain as a scorpioin tailed dragon that stabs with its scorpion tail and blows fire breath inside the ribs. Pain ranged from 1 to 7, average 4 to 5, and severely interferes with function including ability to concentrate, general activity, enjoyment of life, sleep, work, relations with others and moderately interferes with walking and mood. Each of the 2 times she started P.T., she heard a “pop” when the ribs were released; spreading the ribs relieves pain/spasm.  She tried acupuncture, yoga, Feldenkrais.

 ~

Exam: hyperalgesia over the tender T8 dermatome at the lower right ribs shading off toward T10; easily palpable tender trigger point at right epigastric area that radiates to the right anterior lateral iliac crest suggesting visceral ligamentous problems. Physical therapist noted a stiff band in the right upper quadrant but there are no ligaments in this area of the anatomy. She had temporary relief with adjustments, poor response with opioids and failed gabapentin. Intercostal blocks T8-T10 or T11 and right upper quadrant field blocks using Marcaine gave transient 50% relief. MRI and CT scans failed to disclose any etiology.

By 11/17/05, P.T. had freed several structures about the rib cage, but was not able to loosen the lower ribs that no longer flare out as the left side. P.T. has helped far more than nerve blocks (duration of nerve block effect 2 to 4 weeks if cortisone used, or 5 to 14 days if a field block after miserable numbness 48 hours). Pain is focal at the MCL inferior to the lower right rib, deep under the incisional scar triggered by crunches  (as with use of dishwasher, etc).  She is now able to swim butterfly, but not flip turns – flip turns are a crunch flexion. Right levator scapulae trigger point is flared with the same crunches and “feels related.”  She continues Feldenkrais but avoids flexion,no longer has difficulty breathing and since P.T. has been able to get the inspiration spirometer to the top. Inflammatory pain along the costochondral margins anterior and posterioly from T2 to T12 and below the right lower ribs fairly resolved with the topical ointment ketoprofen 20%, lidocaine 10%. She tried Bengay at the levitator scapulae but stopped Daypro due to burning mid sternum, uses aspirin with yogurt.

~

New spine x-rays were reviewed at Boston Children’s Hospital compared with her most recent 10 year old spine MRI: The ribs are splinted upward where they should be down.  Scoliosis then measured 31 degrees at T1-6, and 28 degrees at T6-11 with the superior iliac crest 1 cm down.

~

February 2009, she started low dose naltrexone [LDN] 1 mg:  For years, pain was 8 to 9, like I had swallowed a fire burning. After LDN it was gone in one hour, zero for 18 hours later returned but much lower 1.5 on scale of 10. Premenstrual pain also was there lower abdominal, prior 3 to 4, down to 1 while taking LDN. A morning swim in ocean usually takes a couple hours of swimming to warm up to get that endorphin high, since LDN now occurs in 20 min. Begins with complete feeling of ease and well being because you’re swimming in cold water, everything is cold and you’re tired, suddenly you’re not tired, its easy, nothing is terrrible anymore, all the frustration melts away. There are no long life threatening events, everything seems easier, you’re happier, and you love everyone. Everyone you see a that moment is beautiful and you love them.  The world is a little slower.  You always feel like you could swim [or run] forever, whereas before that point you feel you can go maybe 5 more minutes.

~
Since mid morning a little hyper – sometimes I am if I have lots of sugar or caffeine [had none], talking faster, less patient slightly –  entire family has ADD or ADHD. 
Slept really well  —- usually has light sleep, poor quality.
I got my desk cleared off for the first time in weeks.
Had sinus headache 1-2 weeks, the head was still unchanged after LDN.
Had night sweats > 10 years, at 4 am none last night, in fact the opposite.  

~

Sleep improves for some while on LDN. It is a morphinan, i.e. morphine like. “I sleep well on LDN… the neuroma in my foot is not gone but hurts less, one of those items I’ve been ignoring because the rib/abdominal pain kept me from hiking enough to care.  So far that’s what I’ve got, for some reason the best dosing for me seems to be alternating 2mg and 3mg. I don’t know why that is. I still get a good endorphin rush pretty early into exercise, even walking which I can do again.  Last week I accidentally walked 6 miles, longest I’ve walked in years!  Next I want to try hiking once the snow is gone.

~

A stingray stabbed her the top of her foot on 4-28-11. Lifeguards usually call EMT for morphine as the injury causes so much pain that people black out. There was profuse bleeding, estimated one cup of blood, and swelling the size of an egg. The entire foot was covered with blood as were the footsteps on the beach. Pain quickly increased to 7 on scale of 10 but never went above ankle, then pain dropped to a 3 before they were able to put her foot into hot water. She was laughing with the lifeguard while being treated.  Swelling was almost gone 4 days later. It was a little tender to pressure, the puncture was still visible. She did not wear a shoe to avoid pressure over the wound, and to keep the wound clean to avoid bacterial infection. People were asking why she was not walking with crutches – not remotely necessary.

~

She has scoliosis and wore braces for it as a child. “I’ve been using the SalonPas patches on my lower back, they give me a minor skin rash but work great. I suspect a combination of topicals and stretches will be the key.  For meds we’d have to be in the office with my records (allergic to tylenol and bad reactions to naproxen/Aleve though I may try it again some day).  Its more a question of what to do about the underlying cause -the spine- and avoiding the pain. I know having the pain isn’t good long term but its minor enough that I really didn’t feel it all this time because my front hurt more.  Peeling the onion!  While I was having a lot of rib pain I would get pulled forward and my lower back would go “out.” P.T. could help that by loosening the front and working the back.  Now it seems more complex to address.  I used to do lots of sit-ups and crunches to stabilize it but P.T. says no to those and my core is pretty stable.  I have been able to do yoga again (another LDN success) and I thought that helped in the past.  I’ll have to continue with that and see if it helps things in the long run….  I have to seek out the spine experts now that I can move more.  My ski turns are uneven, always have been becuase I turn easier to the left than the right (so I’ll turn one cheek more readily than the other).”

>

Vibrations from dolphins ease the pain for days. She has experienced more encounters with dolphins and whales since the surgery. One day when she was aware of squid in the water, she noticed what she thought was the world’s biggest squid swimming 10 feet below her, except that it was a gray whale, which soon surfaced and blew water. Her reasoning for why marine life are attracted to her: scar tissue built up around her surgical scar, which she says makes a squeaking sound in the water. “It might be similar to how they perceive pain and illness.They might be coming together to try to help.”

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~

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Further information will be posted on these cases, and more cases will be added as time permits.
They will include persons who had years of intractable chronic pain that severely limited function, who are now pain free
on low dose naltrexone [LDN] and/or other medications.  Some with intractable chronic pain have now been pain free off LDN and all pain medications for three years.
~
~~~~~

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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LDN World Database – Low Dose Naltrexone


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~

This is a database of persons who have tried low dose naltrexone, their diagnosis, dosage and response to it, if any. The database lists many different medical conditions.

~

For example, persons with Multiple Sclerosis, will choose the link above, that has hundreds of persons with MS who have tried naltrexone. Don’t forget to see more pages once you reach the bottom. For a graph of the overall responses, then go back to the main link on Multiple Sclerosis where you see these choices:

~

To view the database please click HERE

To view the Graph on how people feel about LDN please click HERE

To add your experience with LDN please click HERE – of course first select the condition you have, so your entry falls into the proper category.

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If your condition is different, just select the condition from the list on left.

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For example for fibromyalgia:

To view the database please click HERE

To view the Graph on how people feel about LDN please click HERE

To add your experience with LDN please click HERE

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Here for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis.

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If your condition is not listed, check Other on the left side of the list.

This forum is from LDN Research Trust, a registered non-profit Charity based in the UK, with participants from many countries internationally.

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I will soon be posting several case reports of my patient responders, persons with intractable pain from various conditions. Some have been pain free one or two years on naltrexone. Some who had years of previously intractable pain have responded to low dose naltrexone and remained pain free more than one year after discontinuing LDN.

~

MECHANISM

for those who like to know the science

~~`

We have known for decades that naltrexone binds to the mu opioid receptor. It blocks the effect of opioids like morphine at the mu receptor. We now know it also acts at another receptor.

~

You may wish to watch this video that explains Toll Like Receptors, TLRs for short. This is a lecture by Dr. Rachel Allen, whose PhD in immunology is from Oxford University. After that, she worked at Cambridge University on innate immune receptors such as the TLR’s.

~

In 2008, it was shown that naltrexone binds at one of the Toll Like Receptors, the TLR4 receptor. There are 13 Toll Like Receptors, and so far they have studied naltrexone only at one of them, the TLR4. That is important because the TLR receptors are part of the innate immune system.

~

The Toll Like Receptors are not like other receptors. Not these snug little pockets where naltrexone binds. Instead the Toll Like Receptors are like an entire football field, with enormous nooks and crannies where it has many interactions with many molecules. Now, in 2010, scientists are asking if naloxone or naltrexone is acting at TLR4 or even higher up in the cascade.

~

The study of immune cell glial interactions is in its infancy. Glial cells are the immune cells in your central nervous system (brain, spinal cord). They are very involved in dysregulation of pain systems, neuroinflammation, and some neurological diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, infections of the brain, etc.

~

One of our distinguished glial scientists, Linda Watkins, PhD, in October 2010, said we are not even sure naltrexone binds to the Toll Like Receptor. Rather, it involves AKT1, close to the TLR4 receptor, very very high up in the cascade at the dimerization step, the recruitment of CD14. This is being worked out now.

~

Dr. Watkins with Kennar Rice, PhD, from NIH/NIDA, et al, has a paper in press in Cell:

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Glial activation participates in the mediation of pain including neuropathic pain, due to release of neuroexcitatory, proinflammatory products. Glial activation is now known to occur in response to opioids as well. Opioid-induced glial activation opposes opioid analgesia and enhances opioid tolerance, dependence, reward and respiratory depression. Such effects can occur, not via classical opioid receptors, but rather via non-stereoselective activation of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), a recently recognized key glial receptor participating in neuropathic pain as well. This discovery identifies a means for separating the beneficial actions of opioids (opioid receptor mediated) from the unwanted side-effects (TLR4/glial mediated) by pharmacologically targeting TLR4. Such a drug should be a stand-alone therapeutic for treating neuropathic pain as well. Excitingly, with newly-established clinical trials of two glial modulators for treating neuropathic pain and improving the utility of opioids, translation from rats-to-humans now begins with the promise of improved clinical pain control.

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For chronic pain, targets of interest are: glial attenuation, p38 MAPK inhibition.

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Of interest, a commonly prescribed pain medication, amitriptyline, is a TLR4 inhibitor (Hutchinson, 2010).

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You can read many new publications on glia that I posted on my site here, or find it from the banner at top:

Donate to Eliminate Neuropathic Pain

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I am a member of a Neuroinflammation Research Consortium that will be studying these many conditions, some that are painful, others that are not. They involve glia and neuroinflammation.

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For more discussion of mechanisms of action of naltrexone and other publications I have posted, see here, particularly the paper by Zhang, Hong, Kim et al.

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Finally, for those who may feel they are losing heart because medicine has been too slow to adopt the use of low dose naltrexone, let me point this out:

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Dr. Linda Watkins is a University of Colorado Distinguished Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is a world-renown leader in glia research and the neurological applications of glial attenuation, with a focus on alleviation of chronic pain. She is the recipient of the highest award for distinguished basic science research from the American Pain Society and the 2010 John Liebeskind Pain Management Research Award from the American Academy of Pain Management. She has over 300 peer-reviewed publications including articles in Nature, Science, Nature Neuroscience, and Journal of Neuroscience. She received over $2 million in NIH grants supporting 6 generations of IL-10 gene therapy research culminating in XT-101.

~~~~~

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.

~~~~~

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

Low Dose Naltrexone “LDN” and Dextromethorphan off label for Pain, RSD, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, MS, Crohn’s Disease


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Low Dose Naltrexone

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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.

Naltrexone and and naloxone are both classified as morphinans, meaning morphine-like. The action of the morphinans and dextromethorphan is on the glia. This discussion relates to those medications. Refer to the paper titled Morphinan Neuroprotection by Zhang, below.

How does it work?

Naltrexone and dextromethorphan are anti-inflammatory. They act centrally and are very different from, and without the toxicity of commonly used anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or steroids.

They inhibit Superoxide, a free radical, and reduce the toxicity of peroxynitrate metabolism and the excitotoxic effects of glutamate. The mechanism of action occurs at the microglia in spinal cord and brain where they are neuroprotective. Microglia are the immune cells of the central nervous system. Microglia are not only the hallmark of pathology in Multiple Sclerosis but they also play a major role in pain and other degenerative neurological conditions. Reducing the damaging effect of these potent neurotoxins improves function of the immune system and various organ tissues including the spinal cord and brain.

There is evidence that they also increase the release of neurotrophic factors BDNF and GDNF (Jau-Shyong Hong, PhD, at the NIEH/NIH,personal communication).

Chronic pain alters central processing by changing the neurochemistry and the anatomy. This can lead to premature aging of the brain with loss of gray matter and brain atrophy as reported on MRI’s of persons with chronic low back pain. This may also occur in other stress-related disorders, such as chronic depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

There has been a blossoming of basic neuroscience research on microglia that began in the 1980’s. At the American Pain Society meetings in San Diego in May 2009, there were hours of lectures for several days on the basic science of microglia and pain mechanisms.  This confirms the experience that I have seen clinically.

I am grateful to have the guidance of patients, physicians, and scientists in learning about the use and mechanisms of low dose naltrexone, with special thanks to Dr. Jau-Shyong Hong, PhD, Chief of Neuropharmacology at NIEH/NIH. He is one of the country’s leading experts on microglia, opioid antagonists and morphinans and has published some of the references below.

New science shows naltrexone to be a potent anti-inflammatory — much stronger and with a much different mechanism than the weaker cox inhibitors such as ibuprofen, Vioxx, Celebrex, Naproxen with none of those adverse side effects. Dr. Hong reports that in animal studies, dextromethorphan is even stronger than naltrexone.

Naltrexone is one of a few compounds called morphinans, meaning it has a structure similar to morphine, but naltrexone blocks morphine-like medication:  it is an antagonist.  For detailed discussion of morphinans refer to the article by Zhang et al, listed below.

There are links to further understand the basic science in medical publications and references below. We all owe thanks to patients whose clinical recovery with the use of low dose naltrexone has kept this work alive since its effect on the immune system in Multiple Sclerosis and HIV/AIDS was discovered by Bernard Bihari, MD, in 1984. He was a Harvard trained academic neurologist based in NYC. Their testimony can be found in the book mentioned below or in many web sources. The excitement of their recovery and their fundraising prompted UCSF and Stanford to begin double blind studies now 25 years later.

Recent clinical research

In 2009, 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. They now plan a larger study. Bruce Cree, MD, of the UCSF Multiple Sclerosis Clinic in 2008 reported improvement usinglow dose naltrexone in a masked placebo controlled study to evaluate quality of life in MS [reference below] testing only pain, cognitive function and mental health. They propose doing a larger study to measure other functions in MS. In the 2007 study by Jill Smith, MD, at Hershey Medical Center [reference below], 67% of persons with Crohn’s Disease achieved remission in a few weeks, and total 89% had a response to therapy. As described in their publication: Endogenous opioids and opioid antagonists have been shown to play a role in healing and repair of tissues.”Dr. Smith has received a $500,000 grant from NIH to continue research on low dose naltrexone for Crohn’s Disease.

Multicenter studies on LDN for persons with Multiple Sclerosis have been done in Italy and Scotland.  New research is starting in Scotland that will include study of the toxicity of peroxynitrate metabolism in MS first proposed by a Nobel winning scientist in 1991, see the reference on peroxynitrate metabolism and Dr. Gilhooly’s references, below.  Scotland has the highest incidence of MS in the world, even higher than Great Britain and Ireland.  Dr. Gilhooly’s patients reported remarkable improvement in function on LDN that led to him starting this work.

My experience prescribing LDN

I have been prescribing naltrexone for 6 years in ultra-low microgram doses, and more recently prescribing low dose naltrexone at doses of 1 to 4.5 mg.  It is one of the most exciting developments in pain medicine and neurodegenerative diseases that I have ever seen.  It was previously unimaginable to me to see some persons with intractable pain now pain free and off opioids because of low dose naltrexone or a similar medication that will soon be posted on this weblog.

I have not yet been able to predict who will respond to low dose naltrexone with decrease in symptoms, but many patients have had profound relief. Often it may reduce intractable pain to zero despite failing to respond for many years to all known therapies. Inability to predict a response to pain is true of many classes of medication that we trial “off label” for pain relief and even those that are FDA approved for pain. Paradoxically, the same is true for morphine and similar strong opioids.  In fact, opioids relieve pain and opioids create pain at the same time, and it is not uncommon for pain specialists to see individuals with severe pain despite using high dose opioids.

“Off label” use means it is not FDA approved for these purposes.  Instead, low dose naltrexone is used in small doses of 1 to 4.5 mg at bedtime that must be made by a compounding pharmacist, rather than the 50 mg tablets or higher doses that are FDA approved for prevention of addiction and alcoholism.

Many thanks to the sponsors and speakers of the Fourth Annual Conference on Low Dose Naltrexone which was held for the first time on the West Coast at USC on October 8, 2008 – they have provided other references attached below.

Naltrexone became available as a generic drug many years after 1984, and thus there is no profit in this use for pharmaceutical companies.  Only recently, has the science progressed enough to understand its new uses.  Therefore what you may read in various sources on the web may be the “old science,” whereas the articles below are the “new science.”

I will be updating this page in the near future but wanted to make these recent publications and documents available now.

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Update June 22, 2010: Check back for patient case reports I will be publishing soon now that I have more specific information on how morphinans work on path pathways and on the central nervous system.

I recommend this book:

The Promise of Low Dose Naltrexone Therapy

by Elaine A. Moore & Samantha Wilkinson, McFarland & Company Inc., 2009

The Promise of Low Dose Naltrexone Therapy

“Grounded in clinical and scientific research, this book describes the history of naltrexone, its potential therapeutic uses, its effects on the immune system, its pharmacological properties, and how the drug is administered. It also lists … patient resources, and includes interviews with LDN patients and researchers.”

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If you are unable to view and print PDF files below,

download the free PDF reader.

If you do not have Microsoft Powerpoint software to view slides,

download the free Microsoft Powerpoint Viewer.

Download sizes are in parentheses to the right of each download link.

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Non-stereoselective reversal of neuropathic pain by naloxone and naltrexone, involvement of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)

Morphinan Neuroprotection by Zhang, Hong, Kim, et al, Crit.Rev.Neurobiol. 16(4):271-302, 2004 (PDF)  450k

Microglia Mediated Neurotoxicity Molecular Mechanisms. Block Zecca Hong, Nature Reviews Neurosci 8:57, 2007 (PDF) 529k

Peroxynitrites in MS,  Dr Tom Gilhooly, Scotland, USC 4th Annual LDN Conference 2008 (PDF)  77k

LDN research on MS in Scotland Dr Tom Gilhooly, USC 4th Annual LDN Conference, 2008 (Powerpoint)  12M

LDN In MS, Bruce Cree MD, UCSF Poster, 2008 (PDF)  154k

A Pilot Trial of LDN in Primary Progressive MS, Gironi et al, Multiple Sclerosis 14:1076–1083, 2008 (PDF)  222k

LDN for Treatment of MS – Clinical Trials Are Needed, Patel, Ann Pharmacotherapy 41 (9):1549, 2007 (PDF)  114k

LDN Improves Active Crohns Disease, Jill Smith MD et al, Am J Gastroenterology 2007 (PDF) 121k

LDN Immune System Autism & HIV, Vojdani, USC 4th Annual LDN Conference, 2008(Powerpoint)  5.7M

LDN Immune System Autism & HIV, Vojdani Part 2, USC 4th Annual Conference, 2008 (Powerpoint)  3.6M

Naltrexone ULD Decreases Side Effects and Potentiates the Effect of Methadone 2003 JP&SM Cruciani Arbuck  (PDF) 80KB

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Update December 10, 2010:  For further research publications on glia, please refer here.

Refer here for a case report of severe RSD responding primarily to naltrexone.


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