Targeting Specific Inflammatory Cells May Offer Enhanced Pain Relief Interview with:
Prof. Dr. Halina Machelska
Department of Experimental Anesthesiology
Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Berlin, Germany

Prof. Dr. Halina Machelska
Department of Experimental Anesthesiology
Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Berlin, Germany  What is the background for this study?

Response: Pathological pain such as pain resulting from nerve injury is often accompanied by inflammation. This is manifested by accumulation of immune cells, including macrophages, in the damaged tissue. Current research mostly emphasizes the role of these cells in the enhancement of pain. One of the suggested strategies in the basic research is to deplete immune cells from the affected tissue. However, several previous preclinical studies, including our own, have shown that this approach did not sufficiently decrease pain. We think that one of the reasons is that not all immune cells invading damaged tissue are detrimental and in fact, some are needed there to counteract pain.

Macrophages are very heterogeneous and they comprise at least two subpopulations, pro-inflammatory M1 and anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages. Our idea in this study was to promote the analgesic properties of macrophages. We took advantage of the cytokine interleukin-4 (IL-4) to switch macrophages from the M1 to the M2 state.

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Chiropractic Care Linked to Lower Use of Opioids for Spinal Pain Relief Interview with:
Jim Whedon DC, MS
Director of Health Services Research
SCU Health System
Southern California University of Health Sciences
Whittier, CA  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Utilization of nonpharmacological pain management may prevent unnecessary use of opioids.

Our objective was to evaluate the impact of chiropractic utilization upon use of prescription opioids among patients with spinal pain. Overall, in the states of CT, MA and NH, at any particular time in the study period of 2012-2017, between 1.55 and 2.03 times more nonrecipients of chiropractic care.filled an opioid prescription, as compared with recipients.

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Animal Study Finds Ibuprofen for Pain Relief Can Cause Liver Damage Interview with:
Aldrin V. Gomes, Ph.D., FAHA
Professor and Vice-Chair for Teaching,
Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA 95616

Dr. Gomes  What is the background for this study?

Response: While many over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) now include a warning about potential cardiovascular disease, warnings about liver injury are hardly mentioned. This is because most NSAIDs including ibuprofen is considered to have very little potential to cause liver toxicity.

However, a 2018 publication (doi: showed a relatively high prevalence of ibuprofen -induced liver injury in Spanish and Latin-American DILI (Drug induced liver injury) registries. As such, we were interested in determining what effects, if any, ibuprofen had on mice liver.

Low Back Pain: AI Can Expedite Pain Relief Recommendations Through Electronic Record Interview with:

Ismail Nabeel MD, MPH
Associate Professor
Public Health and General Preventive Medicine
Mount Sinai Medical Center

Dr. Nabeel  What is the background for this study?

Response: Acute and chronic low back pain (LBP) are different conditions with different treatments. However, they are coded in electronic health records with the same International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10) code (M54.5) and can be differentiated only by retrospective chart reviews. This prevents an efficient definition of data-driven guidelines for billing and therapy recommendations, such as return-to-work options, etc.

In this feasibility study, we evaluated if Artificial intelligence can automatically distinguish the quality of Low Back Pain (LBP) episodes by analyzing free-text clinical notes from the treating providers. 

These clinical notes were collected during a previous pilot study evaluating an RTW tool based on EHR data that included nearly 40,000 encounters for 15,715 patients spanning from 2016 to 2018 and clinical notes written by 81 different providers. We used a dataset of 17,409 clinical notes from different primary care practices; of these, 891 documents were manually annotated as “acute low back pain” and 2,973 were generally associated with LBP via the recorded ICD-10 code. 

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Gene Responsible for Sensing Mechanical Pain Identified Interview with:
Reza Sharif Naeini, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Physiology & Cell Information Systems Group
McGill University
Life Sciences Complex (Bellini),
Montréal, Québec  What is the background for this study?

Response: My lab is interested in understanding how our bodies detect signals from the environment, like our sense of touch and pain. This process is done by specialized sensors we have that detect mechanical stimuli, ranging from a hair deflecting under the wind, a gentle stroke, or a pinch. These sensors are called mechanosensitive ion channels and they convert mechanical forces into electrical signals that our nervous system can understand.

Their existence was first proposed in 1950 (to my knowledge) by Bernard Katz, and in 1999, researchers at the University of California in San Francisco, led by Dr. Jon Levine, demonstrated that pain-sensing neurons (termed nociceptors) express these channels. But their molecular identity remained elusive.

In 2010, the group of Dr. Ardem Patapoutian discovered the genes Piezo1 and Piezo2, with the latter being essential for our sense of touch and proprioception. While these findings were transformative to the field of somatosensation, mice lacking these genes were still able to respond to painful mechanical stimuli.

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Nebulized Ketamine May Offer Pain Relief to Emergency Room Patients Interview with:

Jefferson Drapkin BS
Research Associate
Maimonides Medical Center
Department of Emergency Medicine
Brooklyn, New York  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Nebulized administration of ketamine has been studied in the areas of palliative care, therapy for asthma, and acute postoperative management of sore throat. To our knowledge, there is no literature regarding analgesic efficacy and safety of nebulized ketamine’s role in managing acute painful conditions in the emergency department (ED).

As all five patients had a decrease in pain from baseline to 120 min, this case series demonstrates that the inhalation route of ketamine delivery via breath-actuated nebulizer may have utility for managing pain in the ED.

Safety And Efficacy Of The Unique Opioid Buprenorphine For Chronic Pain Relief Interview with:
Joseph V. Pergolizzi, Jr., M.D.

Co-Founder and Chief Operating OfficerNEMA Research Inc.

Joseph V. Pergolizzi, Jr., M.D.
 Co-Founder and Chief Operating OfficerNEMA Research Inc.  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is a leading cause of disability.

  • Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are first-line analgesic options or mild CLBP; however, when certain patients with moderate to severe CLBP do not achieve adequate pain relief, opioids are considered as an add-on therapy. Unfortunately, most opioid analgesics have the potential for adverse effects, abuse, and diversion.
  • Buprenorphine buccal film (Belbuca®) is an opioid analgesic classified as a Schedule III controlled substance in the United States and is a partial μ-opioid receptor agonist.
  • Buprenorphine buccal film is a unique analgesic that is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in patients with chronic pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment for whom alternative treatment options are inadequate.
  • Two pivotal phase 3 clinical trials (Study 307, Clinical Trial ID NCT01675167, and Study 308, Clinical Trial ID NCT01633944) established the efficacy and safety profiles of buprenorphine buccal film.
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All Over-the-Counter Pain Relief Medications Contain Both Risks and Benefits Interview with:

Charles H. Hennekens, M.D., Dr.P.H, FACPM, FACC
Sir Richard Doll Professor and Senior Academic Advisor
Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine
Florida Atlantic University  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: About 29 million Americans use over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat pain. Every year in the United States (US),  NSAID use is attributed to  approximately 100,000 hospitalizations and 17,000 deaths. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently strengthened its warning about risks of non-aspirin NSAIDs on heart attacks and strokes. 

While each over the counter and prescription pain reliever  has benefits and risks, deciding which to use is complicated for healthcare providers and their patients.

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Back Pain in Elderly: Most Patients Do Not Receive Physical Therapy Interview with:
Staff Physician, VA Boston Healthcare System
Ph.D. Candidate in Health Policy (Economics)
Harvard University

Dan Ly
Ph.D. Candidate in Health Policy (Economics)
Harvard University  What is the background for this study?

Response: New low back pain is a common complaint in primary care clinics. Prior research examining care patterns up to 2010 and sampling individual visits has found increasing use of opioids and advanced imaging and decreasing use of NSAIDs during this time period.

However, because care is delivered longitudinally, this study examined the care delivered to patients for new low back pain over the course of the year, which allowed me to look at the timing and sequence of care.

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Older Adults More Likely to Misuse Opioids for Pain Relief Interview with:

Ty S. Schepis, PhD
Department of Psychology
Texas State University
San Marcos, TX

Ty S. Schepis, PhD
 Department of Psychology
 Texas State University
 San Marcos, TX
Dr. Schepis  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Prescription opioid misuse motives have been studied in adolescents, young adults, and across the population. One study across the population suggested that older adults differed from younger adults, but this was not fully clear.

We wanted to examine motives across age groups and to investigate the correlates of opioid motive groups in older adults (50 and older). We found that motives changed with aging, with increasing endorsement of pain relief motives, particularly pain relief without other motives.

In contrast, more recreational opioid misuse motives (e.g., to experiment, to get high) peaked in adolescents or young adults. Finally, non-pain relief motives in older adults (50 and older) were associated with higher rates of any past year substance use disorder and past year suicidal ideation.

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