Long-term opioid treatment for chronic pain can be extremely effective in allowing patients to decrease their pain and enjoy functional lives. However, there can be significant hormonal abnormalities that result from this long-term narcotic medication management.
A new study presented recently at the American Academy of Pain Medicine show exactly how significant those hormonal abnormalities can be. The study included over 20 individuals with intractable pain who were being treated in a California pain clinic for over 20 years.
The patients participating in the study did not receive any hormone replacement treatment and their morphine equivalency dosages daily range from approximately 500 to over 5000 mg per day.
55% of the study patients had low testosterone and this was the most common abnormal finding. Low follicle-stimulating hormone was present in 30% of the patients, and low cortisol and ACTH was seen in 9% each. There were some other abnormal findings as well such as abnormal estrogen levels seen in 5% of patients.
The lead author on the study concluded that the low testosterone and follicle-stimulating hormone had major effects on the body. He also concluded that these abnormal hormone levels most likely showed that the opioid treatment was inadequate in a lot of patients in the study.
Additionally, it was noted that individuals who are on chronic pain management should have hormone screenings performed to check for either deficient or excessive hormone levels based on how common they were in the study. In addition to the blood testing, the study used a survey for depression. In general, the participants in the study reported a good quality of life and a low incidence of depression. This was very different than what the hormone level abnormalites showed.
Even if patients say they may have adequate pain control, they may not be sleeping well and may have some mood abnormalities due to these hormonal deficiencies or excessive levels. Study authors recommended asking questions about these issues. It is important to try and maintain normal levels of important hormones such as cortisol, as excessive levels can lead to osteoporosis and spinal fractures.
If you live in chronic pain and are in Arizona, the best pain management in the state is at Arizona Pain Specialists. They have multiple AZ pain clinics throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area, serving Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert,Surprise and more.
The clinic has Board Certified, Award Winning Arizona pain doctors including pain management specialists, Phoenix chiropractor doctors, and physical rehabilitation specialists. Acupuncture and spinal decompression therapy are also offered at all clinics.
The clinics take all major medical insurances along with Medicare, Mercy Care, APIPA, Personal Injury, workers compensation, and self pay options.
Call 602-507-6550 today for scheduling.