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Managing Chronic Pain Conditions with Naltrexone

Potential Use in Orofacial Pain Management

In a study in the Journal of the American Dental Association, naltrexone as a potential treatment for chronic pain and orofacial pain in particular was evaluated. In this first in-depth, systematic review, researchers looked at reduction in pain intensity and increase in quality of life as the primary and secondary outcomes determined, respectively. This study review confirmed that naltrexone—a semisynthetic opioid developed in the early 1960s as an oral alternative to naloxone—is a good option to combat, without risk of addiction, chronic and orofacial pain.

First author of the study, Elizabeth Hatfield, a clinical lecturer in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Hospital Dentistry, commented that "low-dose naltrexone begins to address the cause of pain and not just mask it, which allows us to better target diseases causing chronic pain, as well as potentially consider pain control outside of opioid use." Naltrexone is best used for conditions such as temporomandibular joint disorders, myalgia, and complex regional pain syndrome. It has few side effects, is inexpensive, but those who drink alcohol or use opioids on a regular basis should not use it.

More formal studies are called for.


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