Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Treatment Options Expand For Patients With Neuropathic Pain

Date:
December 1, 2003
Source:
University Of Rochester Medical Center
Summary:
Treatment options for people who suffer from severe pain caused by damage to nerves have expanded dramatically in just the past five years, say scientists and physicians who have published the first-ever guidelines for treating such pain.

Treatment options for people who suffer from severe pain caused by damage to nerves have expanded dramatically in just the past five years, say scientists and physicians who have published the first-ever guidelines for treating such pain. The guidelines for treating neuropathic pain appear in the November issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Though we may not appreciate it, much of the pain we feel every day is normal and healthy. The intense pain we feel after putting a hand on a hot stove, for instance, tells you that you're doing damage to your body and to move your hand immediately. But neuropathic pain serves no useful purpose – it's the result of damage to nerves that transmit pain signals. And so the nerves send errant, unnecessary pain signals that can put a person in constant, pointless, agonizing pain.

"This type of pain is very abnormal," says Robert Dworkin, Ph.D., the lead author of the guidelines and director of the Anesthesiology Clinical Research Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "Many patients worry about how to describe their pain, because it can be so unusual. It seems to come out of nowhere, and it can be excruciating."

Shingles is one of the most common causes of neuropathic pain. For most shingles patients, the painful rash heals in two to three weeks, and the pain is gone permanently. But one in four patients suffers from tremendous pain months or even years after the skin rash heals, because of damage to the nerves, a condition known as post-herpetic neuralgia.

"For many patients who had shingles, just the touch of a shirt or a blouse lightly brushing against the skin can be excruciatingly painful, for years. And so what happens? They stay home, topless. It's hard to go to work, hold a job, or see family and friends if you're sitting home unable to wear a shirt or a blouse. It can truly be disabling," says Dworkin.

Such patients are among the 4 to 6 million people in the United States that Dworkin estimates have neuropathic pain. The group also includes many people with diabetes who can develop a painful condition known as diabetic neuropathy. Such patients might feel extreme pain from just the slightest touch of bed sheets against their feet. Neuropathic pain also affects some patients who have or had cancer, multiple sclerosis, a stroke, a spinal cord injury, or a number of other conditions.

It was just a little more than five years ago that Dworkin pulled together experts from around the world to create the first annual International Conference on the Mechanisms and Treatment of Neuropathic Pain. Then, in late 1998, the Journal of the American Medical Association published two papers on the use of the anti-seizure drug gabapentin to treat pain in patients with diabetes and after shingles. The papers, Dworkin says, stoked the interest of the pharmaceutical industry in neuropathic pain, a condition which had been seen little improvement in treatment for almost two decades.

"When I speak to an audience, I tell them that the lecture I'm going to give about treatment is an entirely different lecture than the one I would have given five years ago," says Dworkin. "The developments have been that rapid."

For most of the past 20 years, doctors treating neuropathic pain have turned to a class of medications known as tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline. But with recent advances in pain treatment, Dworkin and 20 co-authors recommend five types of medication. In addition to the tricyclic antidepressants, the team recommends gabapentin, originally developed as an anti-seizure medication; a lidocaine patch; narcotics such as oxycontin; and the painkiller tramadol.

"Both patients and doctors need to know that now there are several effective choices when it comes to controlling neuropathic pain," Dworkin says. "These developments are significant; it makes relief possible for some patients who have never before been able to have their pain reduced. Still, there is a whole lot of room for improvement, and research on improved treatments for neuropathic pain is continuing."

The compilation of the guidelines was funded by Endo Pharmaceuticals, a company that makes and sells a lidocaine patch to treat neuralgia following shingles.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Rochester Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Rochester Medical Center. "Treatment Options Expand For Patients With Neuropathic Pain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 December 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031201065814.htm>.
University Of Rochester Medical Center. (2003, December 1). Treatment Options Expand For Patients With Neuropathic Pain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031201065814.htm
University Of Rochester Medical Center. "Treatment Options Expand For Patients With Neuropathic Pain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031201065814.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Nearly $1.0 billion dollars is needed to fight the Ebola outbreak raging in west Africa, the United Nations say, warning that 20,000 could be infected by year end. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is ordering U.S. military personnel to West Africa to deal with the Ebola outbreak, which is he calls a potential threat to global security. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins