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      Are Opioids Needed to Treat Chronic Low Back Pain? A Review of Treatment Options and Analgesics in Development

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          Abstract

          The continued prevalence of chronic low back pain (CLBP) is a testament to our lack of understanding of the potential causes, leading to significant treatment challenges. CLBP is the leading cause of years lived with disability and the fifth leading cause of disability-adjusted life-years. No single non-pharmacologic, pharmacologic, or interventional therapy has proven effective as treatment for the majority of patients with CLBP. Although non-pharmacologic therapies are generally helpful, they are often ineffective as monotherapy and many patients lack adequate access to these treatments. Noninvasive treatment measures supported by evidence include physical and chiropractic therapy, yoga, acupuncture, and non-opioid and opioid pharmacologic therapy; data suggest a moderate benefit, at most, for any of these therapies. Until our understanding of the pathophysiology and treatment of CLBP advances, clinicians must continue to utilize rational multimodal treatment protocols. Recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for opioid prescribing recommend that opioids not be utilized as first-line therapy and to limit the doses when possible for fear of bothersome or dangerous adverse effects. In combination with the current opioid crisis, this has caused providers to minimize or eliminate opioid therapy when treating patients with chronic pain, leaving many patients suffering despite optimal nonopioid therapies. Therefore, there remains an unmet need for effective and tolerable opioid receptor agonists for the treatment of CLBP with improved safety properties over legacy opioids. There are several such agents in development, including opioids and other agents with novel mechanisms of action. This review critiques non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic treatment modalities for CLBP and examines the potential of novel opioids and other analgesics that may be a useful addition to the treatment options for patients with chronic pain.

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          Most cited references 89

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          A systematic review on the effectiveness of physical and rehabilitation interventions for chronic non-specific low back pain

          Low back pain (LBP) is a common and disabling disorder in western society. The management of LBP comprises a range of different intervention strategies including surgery, drug therapy, and non-medical interventions. The objective of the present study is to determine the effectiveness of physical and rehabilitation interventions (i.e. exercise therapy, back school, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), low level laser therapy, education, massage, behavioural treatment, traction, multidisciplinary treatment, lumbar supports, and heat/cold therapy) for chronic LBP. The primary search was conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, CENTRAL, and PEDro up to 22 December 2008. Existing Cochrane reviews for the individual interventions were screened for studies fulfilling the inclusion criteria. The search strategy outlined by the Cochrane Back Review Groups (CBRG) was followed. The following were included for selection criteria: (1) randomized controlled trials, (2) adult (≥18 years) population with chronic (≥12 weeks) non-specific LBP, and (3) evaluation of at least one of the main clinically relevant outcome measures (pain, functional status, perceived recovery, or return to work). Two reviewers independently selected studies and extracted data on study characteristics, risk of bias, and outcomes at short, intermediate, and long-term follow-up. The GRADE approach was used to determine the quality of evidence. In total 83 randomized controlled trials met the inclusion criteria: exercise therapy (n = 37), back school (n = 5), TENS (n = 6), low level laser therapy (n = 3), behavioural treatment (n = 21), patient education (n = 1), traction (n = 1), and multidisciplinary treatment (n = 6). Compared to usual care, exercise therapy improved post-treatment pain intensity and disability, and long-term function. Behavioural treatment was found to be effective in reducing pain intensity at short-term follow-up compared to no treatment/waiting list controls. Finally, multidisciplinary treatment was found to reduce pain intensity and disability at short-term follow-up compared to no treatment/waiting list controls. Overall, the level of evidence was low. Evidence from randomized controlled trials demonstrates that there is low quality evidence for the effectiveness of exercise therapy compared to usual care, there is low evidence for the effectiveness of behavioural therapy compared to no treatment and there is moderate evidence for the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary treatment compared to no treatment and other active treatments at reducing pain at short-term in the treatment of chronic low back pain. Based on the heterogeneity of the populations, interventions, and comparison groups, we conclude that there are insufficient data to draw firm conclusion on the clinical effect of back schools, low-level laser therapy, patient education, massage, traction, superficial heat/cold, and lumbar supports for chronic LBP. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00586-010-1518-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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            Effect of Opioid vs Nonopioid Medications on Pain-Related Function in Patients With Chronic Back Pain or Hip or Knee Osteoarthritis Pain

            Limited evidence is available regarding long-term outcomes of opioids compared with nonopioid medications for chronic pain.
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              Mu-opioid receptor desensitization by beta-arrestin-2 determines morphine tolerance but not dependence.

              Morphine is a powerful pain reliever, but also a potent inducer of tolerance and dependence. The development of opiate tolerance occurs on continued use of the drug such that the amount of drug required to elicit pain relief must be increased to compensate for diminished responsiveness. In many systems, decreased responsiveness to agonists has been correlated with the desensitization of G-protein-coupled receptors. In vitro evidence indicates that this process involves phosphorylation of G-protein-coupled receptors and subsequent binding of regulatory proteins called beta-arrestins. Using a knockout mouse lacking beta-arrestin-2 (beta arr2-/-), we have assessed the contribution of desensitization of the mu-opioid receptor to the development of morphine antinociceptive tolerance and the subsequent onset of physical dependence. Here we show that in mice lacking beta-arrestin-2, desensitization of the mu-opioid receptor does not occur after chronic morphine treatment, and that these animals fail to develop antinociceptive tolerance. However, the deletion of beta-arrestin-2 does not prevent the chronic morphine-induced up-regulation of adenylyl cyclase activity, a cellular marker of dependence, and the mutant mice still become physically dependent on the drug.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                JPR
                jpainres
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove
                1178-7090
                14 May 2020
                2020
                : 13
                : 1007-1022
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Anesthesiology, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School , Newark, NJ, USA
                [2 ]Department of Anesthesiology, Englewood Hospital and Medical Center , Englewood, NJ, USA
                [3 ]Center for Pain Management , Hackensack, NJ, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Jeffrey Gudin Englewood Hospital and Medical Center , 350 Engle St #1808, Englewood, NJ07631, USATel +1 201-894-3322 Email healthmd@optonline.net
                Article
                226483
                10.2147/JPR.S226483
                7234959
                32523371
                © 2020 Gudin et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 3, References: 125, Pages: 16
                Categories
                Review

                Anesthesiology & Pain management

                analgesia, non-pharmacologic, opioid, chronic low back pain

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