(ORDO NEWS) –A team of researchers from Canada and Italy concluded that the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids for pain relief may lead to the development of chronic pain. The new work calls into question traditional therapies that block inflammation. According to scientists, normal recovery from a painful injury involves inflammation.
The authors of the work, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine , studied the mechanisms of chronic pain in humans and mice. They found that neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infection, play a key role in managing pain.
“By analyzing the genes of people suffering from low back pain, we observed active changes in the genes over time in those who had pain gone.
Changes in blood cells and their activity seemed to be the most important factor, especially in cells called neutrophils,” said Lyuda Diatchenko, MD, professor at the School of Anesthesiology and Dentistry at McGill University (Canada).
As the researchers explain, neutrophils dominate the early stages of inflammation and “set the stage” for repairing damaged tissues. Inflammation occurs for a reason, and it seems dangerous to interfere with it.
Experimental blocking of neutrophils in mice prolonged pain ten times over the normal duration. Treatment of pain with anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids, such as dexamethasone and diclofenac, gave the same result, although they were effective against pain in the early stages.
These findings are also supported by monitoring data from 500,000 people in the United Kingdom, which showed that patients who took anti-inflammatory drugs for pain were more likely to experience pain two to ten years later. However, this effect was not observed in people taking paracetamol or antidepressants.
“For decades, standard medical practice has been to treat pain with anti-inflammatory drugs. But we found that this short-term solution could lead to long-term problems,” said Jeffrey Mogil, professor in the Department of Psychology at McGill University and chair of the E.P. Taylor Pain Study.
Based on the results of their study, the authors say it may be time to rethink how we treat acute pain. They offer to remove it in other ways, which, fortunately, are able to work without interfering with the inflammation process.
The scientists also emphasized that the elimination of pain is actually an active biological process. A logical extension of these findings would be clinical trials directly comparing long-term therapy with anti-inflammatory drugs with the effect of long-term therapy with painkillers that do not suppress inflammation.
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