Heroin users' mystery a hope for back pain sufferers

July 02, 2001

A WORLD-FIRST study of acute pain in former heroin users could also benefit thousands of people who suffer from chronic back pain.

The three-year, $US1.6m study is being conducted at Adelaide University, Australia, in collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Adelaide's Department of Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology is heading the study, which highlights a little-known and mysterious, often permanent side effect of heroin and other opiate drug use.

The side effect is extreme sensitivity to pain. Former users of heroin, methadone, even long-term morphine users can develop a "hypersensitivity" to pain, causing enormous problems for their quality of life. Those who suffer from this condition are often not helped by any available treatment for acute and chronic pain. And in another mystery, not all kinds of pain have the same response in sufferers.

"The problem is, there are no real guidelines on how to assess and manage pain for these people," says Adelaide's Professor of Addiction Studies, Jason White.

"The aim of the study is to gather the best possible information about people's responses to pain, and to various current treatments of pain. Hopefully the results of our study will go some way towards solving a few of the main mysteries which continue to puzzle clinicians and scientists alike."

The Department of Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology has built up a national and international reputation in the field of drug abuse and treatment. While its target so far has been improvements in treatment for heroin and other illicit drug users, "the spin off for other people in the community who also suffer from these symptoms, such as chronic back pain sufferers, could be significant", Professor White says.

"This study will focus on small numbers of people, but studying them intensively to gain a much better understanding of each individuals' response to pain and treatment," he says. "We will be looking at former heroin users who are now on methadone treatment, and comparing them with people on a new drug, buprenorphine."
-end-
The study is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the United States.

University of Adelaide

Related Chronic Pain Articles from Brightsurf:

Researchers are developing potential treatment for chronic pain
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have developed a new way to treat chronic pain which has been tested in mice.

Molecular link between chronic pain and depression revealed
Researchers at Hokkaido University have identified the brain mechanism linking chronic pain and depression in rats.

How chikungunya virus may cause chronic joint pain
A new method for permanently marking cells infected with chikungunya virus could reveal how the virus continues to cause joint pain for months to years after the initial infection, according to a study published Aug.

Gastroesophageal reflux associated with chronic pain in temporomandibular joint
Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) is associated with chronic, painful temporomandibular disorder -- pain in the temporomandibular joint -- and anxiety and poor sleep contribute to this association, according to a study in CMAJ.

One step closer to chronic pain relief
While effective drugs against chronic pain are not just around the corner, researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, have succeeded in identifying a protein as a future potential target for medicinal drugs.

Gut bacteria associated with chronic pain for first time
In a paper published today in the journal Pain, a Montreal-based research team has shown, for the first time, that there are alterations in the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tracts of people with fibromyalgia.

Nearly 5.4 million cancer survivors suffer chronic pain
A new report finds about one in three cancer survivors (34.6%) reported having chronic pain, representing nearly 5.4 million cancer survivors in the United States.

New opioid speeds up recovery without increasing pain sensitivity or risk of chronic pain
A new type of non-addictive opioid developed by researchers at Tulane University and the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System accelerates recovery time from pain compared to morphine without increasing pain sensitivity, according to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

New target for chronic pain relief confirmed by scientists
A research group at Hiroshima University observed a potential new target for chronic pain treatment.

Menopause symptoms nearly double the risk of chronic pain
In addition to the other health conditions affected by estrogen, it has also been shown to affect pain sensitivity.

Read More: Chronic Pain News and Chronic Pain Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.