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      Pain symptomology, functional impact, and treatment of people with Neurofibromatosis type 1

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          Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a neurogenetic disorder affecting 1 in 3000 people worldwide, where individuals are prone to develop benign and malignant tumors. In addition, many people with NF1 complain of pain that limits their daily functioning. Due to the complexity of the disorder, there are few options for treating pain symptoms besides surgery and medications. Moreover, the spectrum of pain symptomatology and treatment, as well as the mechanisms underlying NF1-associated pain, has been understudied.


          To address this knowledge gap, we conducted a survey of 255 adults with NF1, leveraging the Washington University NF1 Patient Registry Initiative (NPRI) database. Demographic and pain data were collected using a Qualtrics survey.


          All participants had at least one surgical procedure, with 55% reporting having at least one surgery within the last year and 17% being currently prescribed opioid medication. A positive relationship was shown ( p<0.001) between those prescribed prescription pain medication, and their pain severity and interference. Moreover, there was a significant relationship ( p=0.049) between the usage of complementary treatments and pain severity and interference.


          The current study demonstrates that individuals with NF1 report a higher incidence of pain severity and interference than observed in NF1 previous studies, with pain symptoms not localized to any specific region of the body. The consideration for alternative treatments and careful monitoring of current treatments that are more conservative or have less potential adverse side effects may improve pain management and reduce the risk of developing medication dependence.

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          Most cited references 26

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          A comprehensive review of opioid-induced hyperalgesia.

          Opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH) is defined as a state of nociceptive sensitization caused by exposure to opioids. The condition is characterized by a paradoxical response whereby a patient receiving opioids for the treatment of pain could actually become more sensitive to certain painful stimuli. The type of pain experienced might be the same as the underlying pain or might be different from the original underlying pain. OIH appears to be a distinct, definable, and characteristic phenomenon that could explain loss of opioid efficacy in some patients. Findings of the clinical prevalence of OIH are not available. However, several observational, cross-sectional, and prospective controlled trials have examined the expression and potential clinical significance of OIH in humans. Most studies have been conducted using several distinct cohorts and methodologies utilizing former opioid addicts on methadone maintenance therapy, perioperative exposure to opioids in patients undergoing surgery, and healthy human volunteers after acute opioid exposure using human experimental pain testing. The precise molecular mechanism of OIH, while not yet understood, varies substantially in the basic science literature, as well as clinical medicine. It is generally thought to result from neuroplastic changes in the peripheral and central nervous system (CNS) that lead to sensitization of pronociceptive pathways. While there are many proposed mechanisms for OIH, 5 mechanisms involving the central glutaminergic system, spinal dynorphins, descending facilitation, genetic mechanisms, and decreased reuptake and enhanced nociceptive response have been described as the important mechanisms. Of these, the central glutaminergic system is considered the most common possibility. Another is the hypothesis that N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in OIH include activation, inhibition of the glutamate transporter system, facilitation of calcium regulated intracellular protein kinase C, and cross talk of neural mechanisms of pain and tolerance. Clinicians should suspect OIH when opioid treatment's effect seems to wane in the absence of disease progression, particularly if found in the context of unexplained pain reports or diffuse allodynia unassociated with the original pain, and increased levels of pain with increasing dosages. The treatment involves reducing the opioid dosage, tapering them off, or supplementation with NMDA receptor modulators. This comprehensive review addresses terminology and definition, prevalence, the evidence for mechanism and physiology with analysis of various factors leading to OIH, and effective strategies for preventing, reversing, or managing OIH.
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            Neurofibromatosis type 1

            Neurofibromatosis type 1 is a complex autosomal dominant disorder caused by germline mutations in the NF1 tumour suppressor gene. Nearly all individuals with neurofibromatosis type 1 develop pigmentary lesions (café-au-lait macules, skinfold freckling and Lisch nodules) and dermal neurofibromas. Some individuals develop skeletal abnormalities (scoliosis, tibial pseudarthrosis and orbital dysplasia), brain tumours (optic pathway gliomas and glioblastoma), peripheral nerve tumours (spinal neurofibromas, plexiform neurofibromas and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours), learning disabilities, attention deficits, and social and behavioural problems, which can negatively affect quality of life. With the identification of NF1 and the generation of accurate preclinical mouse strains that model some of these clinical features, therapies that target the underlying molecular and cellular pathophysiology for neurofibromatosis type 1 are becoming available. Although no single treatment exists, current clinical management strategies include early detection of disease phenotypes (risk assessment) and biologically targeted therapies. Similarly, new medical and behavioural interventions are emerging to improve the quality of life of patients. Although considerable progress has been made in understanding this condition, numerous challenges remain; a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach is required to manage individuals with neurofibromatosis type1 and to develop effective treatments.
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              Clinical and genetic aspects of neurofibromatosis 1.

              Neurofibromatosis 1 is an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by multiple café-au-lait spots, axillary and inguinal freckling, multiple cutaneous neurofibromas, and iris Lisch nodules. Learning disabilities are present in at least 50% of individuals with neurofibromatosis 1. Less common but potentially more serious manifestations include plexiform neurofibromas, optic nerve and other central nervous system gliomas, malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors, scoliosis, tibial dysplasia, and vasculopathy. The diagnosis of neurofibromatosis 1 is usually based on clinical findings. Neurofibromatosis 1, one of the most common Mendelian disorders, is caused by heterozygous mutations of the NF1 gene. Almost one half of all affected individuals have de novo mutations. Molecular genetic testing is available clinically but is infrequently needed for diagnosis. Disease management includes referral to specialists for treatment of complications involving the eye, central or peripheral nervous system, cardiovascular system, spine, or long bones. Surgery to remove both benign and malignant tumors or to correct skeletal manifestations is sometimes warranted. Annual physical examination by a physician familiar with the disorder is recommended. Other recommendations include ophthalmologic examinations annually in children and less frequently in adults, regular developmental assessment in children, regular blood pressure monitoring, and magnetic resonance imaging for follow-up of clinically suspected intracranial and other internal tumors.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                22 August 2019
                : 12
                : 2555-2561
                [1 ]Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine , New Haven, CT, USA
                [2 ]Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health , New Haven, CT, USA
                [3 ]Northern Illinois University , Dekalb, IL, USA
                [4 ]Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine , New Haven, CT, USA
                [5 ]Institute of Public Health, Brown School, Washington University in St Louis , St Louis, MO, USA
                [6 ]Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine , St. Louis, MO, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Frank D BuonoDepartment of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine , 300 George Street, New Haven, CT 06510, USATel +1 203 801 3499Fax +1 203 801 3442Email frank.buono@yale.edu
                © 2019 Buono 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
                Tables: 3, References: 30, Pages: 7


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