How circuits in the brain may lead to pain management without the use of opioids

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Medical News Today

  • Researchers have identified an alternative pain control circuit in the brains of mice, one that can help effectively manage pain relief.
  • Targeting this circuit helped provide pain relief similar to that of opioids without the side effects.
  • Opioids are effective at managing pain, but there are many potential side effects as well as a risk of addiction, abuse, and overdose.
  • Researchers plan on expanding their findings to see if they can be replicated in human test subjects.

When it comes to relieving pain, opioids are virtually unmatched.

These drugs, which act on opioid receptors in the brain and the body, pack a potent punch and can effectively manage intense pain.

The downside is the addictive nature of opioids.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of deaths by drug overdoseTrusted Source increased sixfold between 1999 and 2021, with many of these deaths attributed to the ongoing opioid epidemic.

This places doctors in a tricky spot, since prescription opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone are powerful tools when it comes to pain management but also create the potential for addiction, abuse, and overdose.

Now, researchers from the University of Chicago say they may have found a new way to treat pain, one that can produce a similar effect to opioids without actually using the medications.

 

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