News from a research team studying the effects of opioids may help explain the explosion in prescription painkiller addictions of the last several years. A University of Colorado-Boulder studyhas found that opioid use increases chronic pain in rats. If the same result holds true in humans, it would mean that prescribed opioids aren’t only viciously addictive, they also worsen the very condition they’re prescribed to treat.
The study showed that just five days of morphine treatment in rats caused chronic pain that continued for several months by triggering the release of pain signals from immune cells in the spinal cord.
“We are showing for the first time that even a brief exposure to opioids can have long-term negative effects on pain,” said CU-Boulder assistant research professor Peter Grace, a faculty member in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. “We found the treatment was contributing to the problem.”
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