The Top 5 Most-Read Pain Management Stories of 2020

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The most-read stories on AJMC.com relating to pain in 2020 reflected the wide variety of conditions for which patients seek treatment, including headache, back pain, and pain borne by cancer survivors. Individuals are also looking for information about newer therapies used for pain.

Here are the top 5 most-read stories for 2020 related to pain management.

5. A Multidisciplinary Spine Intervention Can Significantly Reduce Costs Related to Chronic Back Pain

Researchers found that a multidisciplinary spine intervention can reduce chronic back pain (CBP)–related health care utilization and costs. The study examined changes in health care costs 2 years before and 2 years after patients with complex CBP received multidisciplinary spine care at a center in the Netherlands. Health care costs related to CBP rose before the intervention and were highest during the patients’ treatment but fell in the 2 years following, to a level below the costs 1 year before the intervention. In general, treatment was associated with a 34% reduction in CBP-related health care costs when comparing patients 1 and 2 years before the intervention with patients 1 and 2 years after the intervention.

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4. Pain 1 of 3 in a Cluster of Symptoms Affecting Men After Prostate Cancer

While the incidence of prostate cancer is rising, so is survival, and so there are more men living with this cancer than any other malignancy. A report during the year described how 1 in 13 survivors of prostate cancer are afflicted with pain, fatigue, and depression as one cluster of symptoms. While separately, the symptoms are known in both cancer and in prostate cancer, the researchers wanted to know more about the factors that are significantly linked when the cluster of all 3 symptoms occurs. A multivariate analysis showed those factor to be back pain at diagnosis, incontinence, loss of sexual desire, bowel problems, gynecomastia, and hot flashes post treatment.

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3. Study Examines Melatonin to Treat Pain in Pediatric Headache

A trial to examine the use of melatonin to treat pain in pediatric headache found that the supplement created too much daytime drowsiness to be effective. Researchers had hoped to use the study, examining whether a high or low dose of melatonin is effective, as the basis for a future placebo-controlled efficacy trial. But the open-label, single-center, dose-finding trial in children and adolescents aged 4 to 17 years with episodic migraine had high dropout rates.

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2. No Ill Effects for Older Adults Using Medical Cannabis for Pain, Study Says

An Israeli study examined the effect of long‐term medical cannabis use in middle-aged and older patients with pain to see if there is an effect on brain health, particularly cognitive function. Results showed there was no significant difference in cognitive performance between those who did use licensed medical cannabis and those who did not. In addition, looking only at patients with a license, there was no difference in cognitive performance when looking at various related factors, such as years of use, frequency, dose, and other factors.

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1. Review of Ketamine in ED for Acute Pain Finds Similar Efficacy to Other Pain Relief

Ketamine, given by infusion, is an old drug that been used since the 1960s for pain; in 2018 3 pain societies released guidelines for its use in both acute and chronic pain. A recent review and meta-analysis published earlier this year found that low-dose ketamine can be used in place of opioids for patients in acute pain seeking care in the emergency department. The report looked at the safety and effectiveness of ketamine and found similar results compared with standard pain treatments.

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