Scientists link opioid use disorder to chronic pain

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Scientists have long observed a connection between opioid use disorder (OUD) and chronic pain, but the brain mechanisms linking these conditions have remained unclear.

Researchers from The Ohio State University have investigated one possible mechanism, known as central sensitization, among individuals with OUD. This study, led by Dr. O. Trent Hall, was published in the journal PAIN Reports.

Central sensitization refers to abnormal pain processing in the brain and spinal cord. In individuals with central sensitization, the spinal cord is exceptionally efficient at sending pain signals to the brain, while the brain has difficulty shutting off these signals once they arrive.

As a result, people with central sensitization tend to experience more intense and persistent pain compared to others.

In their study, the Ohio State team examined 141 participants from the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s addiction treatment center in Columbus, Ohio.

These participants answered questions about how pain interfered with their daily lives, their quality of life, and their beliefs and expectations regarding pain and addiction treatment.

The researchers found that people with higher levels of central sensitization reported a worse quality of life.

These individuals were more likely to cite pain as a primary reason for starting opioid use, delaying addiction treatment, continuing and increasing opioid use, and fearing pain-related relapse in the future.

Chronic pain can lead to OUD, and people suffering from both chronic pain and OUD face more challenges in quitting opioids than those with OUD alone.

The study suggests that central sensitization is a significant factor complicating the treatment of both chronic pain and OUD. Understanding and measuring central sensitization in patients with OUD could help clinicians and researchers develop better treatments for those struggling with these interconnected conditions.

If you care about pain, please read studies about how to manage your back pain, and Krill oil could improve muscle health in older people.

For more information about pain, please see recent studies about how to live pain-free with arthritis, and results showing common native American plant may help reduce diarrhea and pain.

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