OPIOIDs a pain problem?
Pain Management - Time for an alternative to Opioids?
Opioids work to help relieve pain by binding to receptors in the brain or body to reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain.
There are many forms of opioids (some can be bought over the counter!) The more familiar ones are called codeine, morphine, oxycodone and tramadol to name but a few.
Some examples of opioid use include:
- A patient recovering from surgery might be advised by the surgeon to take them to help them cope with the pain following their operation until they have recovered.
- Someone suffering with chronic pain caused by an injury, such as severe back pain, could be prescribed opioids to help them through the difficult stages of pain.
- In other cases where pain is caused by a debilitating illness such as osteoarthritis, an opioid can prove helpful in managing the pain.
- Some cancer patients often use opioids to help them with pain relief.
Although opioids can reduce short-term pain and effectively relieve pain there are serious risks and complications. One of their most common and distressing adverse effects is chronic opioid constipation, which occurs in 41% to 81% of patients.
It is now widely accepted by medical researchers that opioids are highly addictive, as many as 1 in 4 patients receiving opioids for chronic pain develop opioid use disorder. This is where the patient becomes dependent on the drug which results in significant health or social problems and impacts on the quality of their lives.
MeDiNova Clinical research are currently conducting a trial for a nerve growth factor (NGF) inhibitor which has shown promise in a phase II/III trial, rekindling hopes of an alternative to opioids for chronic pain.
The trial - in patients with moderate-to-severe chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis - showed that this treatment dosed by injection once a month was able to provide a significant improvement in pain relief compared to placebo at all doses tested.