Cognitive-Behavioral Couple Therapy Provided Pain Relief from Vulvar Pain

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Sophie Bergeron, Ph.D.
Canada Research Chair in Intimate Relationships and Sexual Wellbeing
Past-President, Society for Sex Therapy and Research
Professeure titulaire/Professor
Département de psychologie 
Université de Montréal 

Dr. Bergeron

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: Chronic pain problems involving the female reproductive system are major health concerns in women of all ages. As conditions which are poorly understood and often misdiagnosed or ignored, they entail a great personal cost to patients and a significant financial cost to society.

One such condition is vulvodynia, or chronic unexplained vulvar pain. Up to 8% of women under 40 may experience idiopathic vulvar pain during their lifetimes. Provoked vestibulodynia (PVD) – an acute recurrent pain localized within the vulvar vestibule and experienced primarily during sexual intercourse – is suspected to be the most frequent cause of vulvodynia in premenopausal women.

Despite its high prevalence and negative impact on psychosexual functioning of both affected women and their partners, there has been a paucity of controlled research to provide empirically validated treatments for afflicted couples. This randomized clinical trial compared a novel cognitive-behavioral couple therapy (CBCT) and topical lidocaine for PVD.

Fusion vs Replacement for Pain Relief from Ankle Arthritis

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Bruce J. Sangeorzan, M.D.
, Professor
Director, RR&D Center for Excellence in Limb Loss Prevention and Prosthetic Engineering
Veterans Affairs
University of Washington

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: We began a series of studies in the early 2000’s when ankle replacement was limited to a few centers like our own. We knew that ankle arthrodesis– or fusion—was an effective treatment for ankle arthritis. But ankle fusion is not appropriate for some people and it also results in loss of ankle motion. There were a growing number of ankle replacements being done but little was known about their effectiveness or how long they last.

We wanted to study whether replacement and fusion were comparable for pain relief and activity and wanted to know if maintaining motion of the ankle (by using a replacement) would have an advantage without additional risk. Three studies were done involving more than 800 patients from 6 centers.

This most recent study compared two groups of patients who had similar amount of pain and activity before treatment. All of the patients had already tried non -surgical solutions such as activity modification, bracing and injections with out improvement. One group had fusion of the ankle and the other had replacement of the ankle. Patients were questioned and examined four years or more after surgery and compared to their condition before treatment.

No Pain Relief Found With Paracetamol (acetaminophen) for Acute Back Pain

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Christina Abdel Shaheed PhD
Researcher and Academic
University of Sydney

Dr. Abdel Shaheed

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is one of the most widely used drugs for pain relief globally. Our study (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.5694/mja2.50992) examined the evidence on the efficacy of paracetamol versus placebo for 44 different pain conditions. There is strong evidence paracetamol provides greater pain relief than placebo for four conditions: craniotomy, knee or hip osteoarthritis, tension headache and perineal pain following childbirth, however sometimes the effects were very small.

Paracetamol was no more effective than placebo for acute low back pain. There is uncertainty regarding the benefits of paracetamol for the remaining 39 pain conditions. To note, most studies evaluated single doses of the pain reliever, which does not reflect typical use of the medicine.


PainRelief.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: If people are considering paracetamol for their pain, the recommendation is to:

  • Stick within the safe limits for using paracetamol (maximum 4 g daily for adults, which will vary depending on the formulation used).
  • Bear in mind there are different types of paracetamol products (long-acting, which should be taken less frequently, versus short-acting); and cold and flu preparations (including decongestant) and popular over-the-counter products for pain relief (including ibuprofen) can also contain paracetamol.
  • Do not use paracetamol for more than a few days at a time unless specifically advised to by a doctor or pharmacist.
  • Consider combining the medicine with other non-drug strategies to optimise pain relief, particularly for conditions like osteoarthritis e.g. exercise and healthy eating.

PainRelief.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: High quality clinical trials evaluating typical use of paracetamol are needed to resolve the uncertainty around its effectiveness for the majority of pain conditions.

Disclosures: Some of the authors on this study were also involved in the PACE trial which evaluated the efficacy of paracetamol vs placebo for acute low back pain.

Citation:

Abdel Shaheed, C., Ferreira, G.E., Dmitritchenko, A., McLachlan, A.J., Day, R.O., Saragiotto, B., Lin, C., Langendyk, V., Stanaway, F., Latimer, J., Kamper, S., McLachlan, H., Ahedi, H. and Maher, C.G. (2021), The efficacy and safety of paracetamol for pain relief: an overview of systematic reviews. Med J Aust, 214: 324-331. https://doi.org/10.5694/mja2.50992

The information on PainRelief.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.

Study Evaluates Placebo Effect of CBD on Pain Relief

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Martin De Vita, CPT, MS, USA
Doctoral Candidate
Clinical Psychology Department
Syracuse University

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Seemingly out of nowhere, cannabidiol (CBD) products became immensely popular. Cross-sectional studies showed widespread use among the public for various clinical conditions. Pain was by far the most commonly reason cited for using CBD. However, no human experimental pain studies had been conducted to evaluate the analgesic effects of CBD. A lot of people questioned whether CBD effects on pain were just a placebo.

To answer this question, we tested people’s baseline pain responding using sophisticated equipment capable of delivering safe, but painful stimulation that activates and evaluates human nervous system processes. Then we administered either CBD or a placebo and re-tested these pain outcomes to see how they changed. We took it a step further and manipulated the information that participants were given about which substance they received. So in some conditions, participants were told they got CBD, even though it was just a placebo. In other conditions, participants were told they got an inactive substance, despite actually receiving CBD. This way, we could test whether simply telling someone that they had received CBD would have an effect on their pain. These are called expectancy effects and there is a large body of literature that supports this phenomenon.

When we looked at the data, we found that CBD analgesia was actually driven by both expectancies (placebo analgesia) and pharmacological action. We also found that these manipulations affected different pain outcomes. We found that both CBD and expectancies reduced pain unpleasantness but not pain intensity. The results were complex in that CBD and expectancies for receiving CBD differentially affected various outcomes. This was exciting because we are left with even more questions to investigate in future research.

Continue reading

Tapentadol Provided Pain Relief and Improved Sleep in Patients with Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Dr Renato Vellucci
Contract Professor University of Florence
Pain and Palliative care Clinic
University Hospital of Careggi
Florence, Italy

Dr. Vellucci

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is the most prevalent chronic pain (CP) condition and the leading global cause of years lived with disability. According to the axiom pain as a biopsychosocial issue, mood and sleep disturbances represent key issues. However, the impact of different analgesic therapies on quality of life (QoL) and functional recovery has been poorly assessed to date. Focusing on combination of chronic pain and sleep, they both perform a mutual reinforcement.

Pain disorganizes the sleep architecture, and disturbed and unrefreshed sleep increases spontaneous pain and lowers pain thresholds. Sleep disorders may augment stress levels, thus making it difficult for patients to perform simple tasks impairing their cognitive ability. Poor sleep may predict the growth and intensification of pain over time, with increased insomnia symptoms being both a predictor and an indicator of worse pain outcomes and physical functioning status over time. Epidemiology of chronic pain unequivocally demonstrates the role of sleep quality in the development of chronic pain.

Notwithstanding this strong two-way relationship between chronic pain and sleep, little knowledge is available about the neurochemical determinants of this interplay and therapeutical strategies to break this vicious circle. Fifty percent of people with chronic low back pain have sleeping disturbances, with an 18-fold increase in insomnia versus healthy people. A recent study investigated the relationship between sleep disturbances and back pain and found that it is two sided with sleep disturbance being associated with risk of back pain whilst back pain can also lead to sleep disturbances. Thus, it can be hypothesized that, by reducing pain and physical dysfunction, sleep quality could be improved, thus enriching the QoL of people with CLBP.

Similarly, improvements in sleep after cognitive behavioral therapy in patients with chronic pain due to osteoarthritis were associated with reduced pain. Earlier evidence suggested that tapentadol prolonged-release treatment ameliorate in parallel QoL and sleep quality in a greater proportion of patients compared to that of patients following oxycodone/naloxone prolonged- release treatment (50% versus 37.7%). Other tapentadol studies conducted in a real-life context documented, along with effective pain control, similar improvements in mental and physical health and suggested beneficial effects in terms of less night awakenings and greater percentages of patients reporting restful sleep.

Continue reading

Costs of Compounded Pain Relief Medications Vary Widely Among Local Pharmacies

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Youssef Labib
PharmD Candidate
University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy

Youssef-Labib
Youssef Labib

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Compounded pain medication price data was gathered from over 30 community pharmacies for the sole purpose of directing our patients to both the most accessible and affordable compounding pharmacy.

A drastic variation in price was noticed and this report was published to comment on potential implications.

Continue reading

New Class of Drugs May Provide Pain Relief Without Need for Opioids

PainRelief.com Interview with:
John Traynor, PhD
Edward F Domino Research Professor
Professor and Associate Chair for Research
Department of Pharmacology, Medical School
Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI

Dr. Traynor

PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Response: Morphine and related drugs acting at the mu-opioid receptor are the most effective treatment for moderate to severe pain, yet their use is limited by serious on-target side effects including respiratory depression, and physical and psychological dependence that has led to the opioid crisis.  Current opioid drugs are required because our own endogenous pain relieving chemicals, the enkephalins and endorphins opioid peptides, cannot efficiently relieve pain.  

We have discovered a class of drugs (positive allosteric modulators, PAMs) that bind to the mu-opioid receptor to enhance the activity of endogenous opioids.  These “enkephalin amplifiers” afford pain relief in mouse models without the need for morphine-like compounds and do so with a much reduced side-effect profile.

Continue reading

Chronic Low Back Pain: Spinal Manipulation Therapy May Reduce Opioid-Related Adverse Effects

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Jim Whedon DC, MS
Director of Health Services Research
SCU Health System
Southern California University of Health Sciences
Whittier, CA

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response:    Current evidence-based guidelines for clinical management of chronic low back pain (cLBP) include both pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches.

Both Opioid Analgesic Therapy (OAT and Spinal Manipulative Therapy (SMT) are effective treatments for cLBP and are provided under Medicare for older adults with cLBP, but the long-term safety of OAT is uncertain, and the dangers of opioid misuse are well known. Older adults are at particularly high risk of adverse drug events (ADEs),but they nevertheless receive more opioid analgesics than any other age group. SMT is established as an effective non-pharmacologic treatment for cLBP, but little is known about the safety of long-term treatment with SMT. The objective of our study was to compare SMT and OAT to determine the impact of SMT on the risk of ADEs among older adults receiving long-term care for cLBP.

Continue reading

Targeted Smartphone Exercise Program Can Provide Pain Relief from Knee Arthritis

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Ana M Valdes MA PhD
Professor in Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology
NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre – Research Area Lead
Associate Editor European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
School of Medicine
University of Nottingham

Dr. Valdes

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: Knee osteoarthritis and knee pain affect a large proportion of middle age and aging individuals and this are  an increasing problem. Physical exercises aimed at strengthening and stabilising the muscles in the legs and hips  are known to be highly effective in reducing pain and improving the ability to walk and get on with life. But a key challenge is how to deliver such gradual exercises in a way that does not require people to travel to see a physiotherapist or a doctor, particularly given the issues raised by  lockdown both in terms of the Covid-secure challenges face to face visits and also given the strain that the pandemic has put on health services.  

Our  study was the first randomised controlled trial in the UK where we were had people with painful knee osteoarthritis either do only what their doctors normally recommend or, in addition, follow a programme of exercised developed in Sweden delivered via  smartphone app. The research participants were assessed for knee inflammation, knee pain, pain sensitivity around the knee, muscle strength, and ability to walk and get up from a chair both before and after the 6 week smartphone delivered intervention (or a 6 week period simply following any advice they had from their family doctor).

Transcranial Neuromodulation Studied for Pain Relief

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Markus Ploner MD
Professor of Human Pain Research
Department of Neurology
Technische Universität München
Munich, Germany

Prof. Ploner

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: Recent studies in humans and animals have revealed that pain is associated with rhythmic brain activity termed neural oscillations. In particular, changes of neural oscillations at alpha (8 – 13 Hz) and gamma (30 – 100 Hz) frequencies in somatosensory and prefrontal brain areas have been related to pain. Thus, modulating neural oscillations to eventually modulate pain is a promising novel approach for pain treatment.

Transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) is an emerging neuromodulation technique which aims at non-invasively modulating neural oscillations in the human brain. During tACS, a weak alternating current is applied to the scalp with the goal of entraining neural oscillations at the stimulation frequency, thereby increasing their amplitude. The appeal of tACS is that it is non-invasive, safe, cost-efficient, and potentially mobile which allows for broad clinical applications. Thus, tACS is increasingly explored as a new treatment approach for neuropsychiatric disorders.

In our study, we therefore explored the potential of tACS to modulate pain. We systematically applied tACS at alpha and gamma frequencies or sham tACS over somatosensory and prefrontal cortices during tonic experimental pain in healthy human participants.

PainRelief.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Our main findings are that, using the current setup, tACS did not modulate the perception of pain. Bayesian statistics further supported a lack of tACS effects in most conditions including prefrontal and gamma tACS. The only exception was tACS at alpha frequencies over somatosensory cortex where evidence for tACS effects on pain perception was inconclusive. 

PainRelief.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Readers might take away three key points.

First, neurophysiological studies indicate that modulating neuronal oscillations to eventually modulate pain is a promising novel approach for the treatment of pain.

Second, tACS is one non-invasive and simple approach to modulate neuronal oscillations.

Third, our mostly negative findings show that we are not there yet.    

PainRelief.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: A very general recommendation is that rigorous, well-controlled and transparent studies are needed to further explore the potential of tACS (and other neuromodulatory techniques) for treating pain. Furthermore, we should ideally make all our data available to the public so that the whole research community can take advantage of them. Finally, to advance the field, we should not only publish positive but also negative findings, as done here. 

A more specific recommendation is that modulating neuronal oscillations at alpha frequencies over somatosensory brain areas is the most promising approach for further tACS studies.

Citation:

May ES, Hohn VD, Nickel MM, Tiemann L, Gil Ávila C, Heitmann H, Sauseng P, Ploner M. Modulating Brain Rhythms of Pain using Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) – A Sham-controlled Study in Healthy Human Participants. J Pain. 2021 Apr 9:S1526-5900(21)00191-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2021.03.150. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33845173.

The information on PainRelief.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.