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Chronic pain treatments more effective when taken together, new study shows

s research. Dr. Gilron and his team are a shining example of CIHR-funded researchers taking research knowledge from the bench to the bedside."

Although the research focused on two specific types of neuropathic pain diabetic neuropathy and postherpetic neuralgia the methods used in this trial could be employed in studying other chronic conditions such as cancer, spinal disk disease, and the pain experienced after chemotherapy and mastectomies, Dr. Gilron notes. "The numbers of people affected are staggering, and the impact of the problem is devastating and costly."

Diabetic neuropathy occurs in diabetes patients who experience a constant, burning pain, often in the soles of their feet, that isn't associated with obvious tissue injury. It is sometimes accompanied by electrical shooting pains up the foot and into the lower leg.

Postherpetic neuralgia results from a re-activation of the virus that causes chicken pox, and usually develops after someone has a herpes zoster or "shingles" infection in an isolated part of the body. In 10 to 20 per cent of people afflicted with herpes zoster, the pain doesn't go away after the rash disappears. Instead it continues to be felt as a burning sensation and often makes normal touch excruciatingly painful.

Both conditions are due to nerve damage and/or injury, and are associated with the experience of pain in an apparently uninjured area, Dr. Gilron explains. Most of the current treatments for this condition cause side effects, which limit the drug dosage a person can tolerate.

"What we need to do clinically is to achieve a balance between side effects and pain relief," says the Queen's anesthesiologist. "The purpose of this study was to evaluate two different drugs for chronic pain, and to carefully measure both the pain-relieving effects and the side effects."

The clinical trial compared a combination of morphine and gabapentin to each drug alone, as well as to a placebo, in
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Contact: Nancy Dorrance
dorrance@post.queensu.ca
613-533-2869
Queen's University
31-Mar-2005


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