Narcotics Cause Chronic Pain: No Surprises Here…

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We are in the middle of an epidemic of deaths due to narcotics fueled by pharma. It’s become vogue again for the media to discuss this issue, since the death of Prince, but the problem has always been there. Now a new study out of my neck of the woods (University of Colorado) shows why narcotics, once taken by a patient for pain, are a self-fulfilling prophecy. Basically, the narcotics prolong the pain!

How We Got Here—The Pharma Wizard Behind the Curtain

I’ve blogged many times before about how pharma took cheap and old narcotic drugs and got fast FDA approvals by placing these powerful medications into new slow-release forms. They then hired university professors on the pharma dole to educate an entire generation of physicians that there was no reason to fear placing patients on narcotics. This then caused the proverbial narcotic-prescribing floodgates to open, with pharma raking in billions in easy profits. These new drugs were so powerful (just one dose can contain as much narcotic as 20 Percocet pills) that they were perfect to crush and snort or inject, as they were cheaper than heroin and provided just as good a high. As a result, we now have an epidemic of overdose deaths of epic proportions on our hands. As an example, approximately 20,000 Americans died in 2015 from overdoses of prescription narcotics (source:the National Institute on Drug Abuse).

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The Concept That Narcotics Are a Reasonable Way to Treat Chronic Pain Is Falling Apart…

It’s amazing how much we know about how narcotics can cause central sensitization. What’s that? Patients who have been in pain a long time can develop amplified pain signals. Basically, the same amount of injury that would cause a small amount of pain in a normal person will cause much more pain in a patient who has “central sensitization.” Basically, the wiring that transmits pain signals gets screwed up, amplifying those signals. Narcotics can cause these amplified pain signals in patients in pain and in normal healthy people. In fact, babies born to mothers on narcotics also have this central sensitization problem. Even scarier is that past morphine administration cranks up later inflammation in animal models—meaning having had several doses of narcotics in the past causes more swelling when the animal is injured than it does when the animal has never before had morphine.

The New Study—Narcotics Cause More Pain

So we know that narcotics can amplify pain signals in patients with and without chronic pain. However, the new study added an even more disturbing dimension to the story behind how narcotics screw up pain signals. The researchers found that giving mice just five days of narcotics, which is common, markedly increased the duration of pain signals. Basically, mice who had their nerves injured who had narcotics took twice as long to recover as those who didn’t have narcotics. The mechanism behind this was that the narcotics put the cells in the spinal cord into overdrive, causing them to create inflammation.

The upshot? Pharma and the physicians who bought the university-manufactured story that narcotics should be routinely prescribed have likely created more than just an epidemic in overdoses. They’ve likely created an entire generation of patients whose pain is increased by the very medications that are supposed to be helping it! Only in “Pharmerica”!

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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