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Morphine may make pain last longer

Rat study suggests further drawback to opioids

3:00pm, May 30, 2016

PAIN PILLS  Morphine treatment extended the duration of nerve pain in rats, a result that raises questions about the effects of other opioid-based painkillers, such as OxyContin.

Painkillers in the opium family may actually make pain last longer. Morphine treatment after a nerve injury doubled the duration of pain in rats, scientists report the week of May 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The results raise the troubling prospect that in addition to having unpleasant side effects and addictive potential, opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin could actually extend some types of pain. If a similar effect is found in people, “it suggests that the treatment is actually contributing to the problem,” says study coauthor Peter Grace, a neuroscientist at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Scientists have known that opioid-based drugs can cause heightened sensitivity to pain for some people, a condition called opioid-induced hyperalgesia. The new study shows that the effects linger weeks after use of the drugs is stopped. Male rats

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