Preliminary data from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center showed that naltrexone, a medication used to treat opioid and alcohol use disorder, reduced both pain and disability in chronic pain patients when administered in low doses, according to a report by Medscape Medical News.
The findings were presented at the American Academy of Pain Medicine’s annual meeting last month.
A total of 65 chronic pain patients were included in the study. Each had experienced either low-back pain with radiculopathy or fibromyalgia for at least 3 months, and none had responded to traditional pain treatment strategies. Patients filled out inventories tracking pain, disability and the impact of naltrexone on carrying out daily activities. Patients received low doses of naltrexone—as small as a tenth of a dose administered to treat addiction.
Preliminary data showed significant improvements in tracked metrics at 3 and 6 months after treatment was initiated.
Study investigator Kaivalya Deshpande, MD, told Medscape Medical News that naltrexone’s anti-inflammatory properties could make it a beneficial treatment option for fibromyalgia patients and those with lower back pain, and that by keeping doses small, risk of potential abuse or addiction was low.