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Naloxone ?Reboots? Opioid Pain-Relief System
cweinbl posted:
Research has suggested potential benefits of using low-doses of the opioid antagonist naloxone to "reboot" the body's natural opioid-receptor system in patients who are not achieving adequate pain relief with opioid medications. Now, a new case study from China reveals naloxone as reversing resistance to high-dose morphine in a 56-year-old male patient with terminal bladder cancer.

Although the mechanisms behind this need further elaboration, research suggests that appropriately low doses of opioid antagonists (naloxone, and also naltrexone) appear to reset the endogenous opioid-receptor system, somewhat analogous to how "rebooting" a malfunctioning computer clears memory, refreshes the software, and often restores normal function. This may be an important concept for patients experiencing intractable chronic pain without relief from opioids.

Many patients with chronic intractible pain climb the opiate ladder until reaching the highest safe dosage, at which point the medication provides ever-decreasing effectivness due to tolerance. This resistance to powerful pain medication leads to increased infirmity, disability, emotional distress and higher medical and social costs.

There still remains a dearth of reliable data on this subject. Far more large population, double blind, control group research is necessary before we can draw a definitive conclusion. However, as we see a steady increase in the long-term use of opioid analgesics for chronic pain, this topic will become an ever-increasing source of interest to the medical and lay communities.

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