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Medications for Pain Series: Research Advances

June 30th, 2014 · No Comments

This article is one in a series on Medications for Pain. What are your choices? How do various medications work? What are the pros and cons? How about side effects?

Here are 2 promising advances in research for pain.

1. The first advance is studying multiple medications together. As you might know all too well, it’s usually not a single medication alone which helps in chronic pain. Patients often use 2, 3, or even more medications together. However, most research looks at only 1 medication at a time. While this practice is simpler, it doesn’t help us know how to best combine medications for pain management.

Studies looking at more than 1 medication at a time are beginning to be published. Yay!! Here’s an example:

Lamotrigine in Combination with Other Medications for Neuropathic Pain. This study looked at adding lamotrigine (an anti-seizure medication) to either neurontin, a tricycle antidepressant, or another non-narcotic medication, in patients whose pain wasn’t well controlled with only 1 medication. The results showed that the addition of Lamotrigine didn’t help with pain.

As more studies are done, we’ll know better:

  • what drugs to use together
  • in what order to prescribe them
  • what dosages to use together

(Study is: Silver M, Blum D, Grainger J, Hammer A, Quessy S, Double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of lamotrigine in combination with other medications for neuropathic pain. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, Vol 34, 2007, 446-454.)

2. The second advance is studying medications for pain specifically and for particular pain disorders. National research organizations (eg NIH) as well as pharmaceutical companies are directing more dollars towards the study of pain. This will create advances in pain medicine – more options and quicker development of medication options. As well, specific pain disorders are being researched. For example, fibromyalgia has gone from being a questionable diagnosis to having multiple medications being approved to treat it.

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