Animal testing reveals Opioid use amplifies pain rather than dulling it

In a publication entitled “Morphine paradoxically prolongs neuropathic pain in rats by amplifying spinal NLRP3 inflammasome activation” researchers have discovered what Patients and movement professionals already know.

An opioid sets off a chain of immune signals in the spinal cord that amplifies pain rather than dulling it.  In summary, after approximately 1 week worth of moderate opioid dosage it resulted in doubling the time of hypersensitivity.  Even after the opioid left the animal’s system it was hypersensitive for twice the duration (12 weeks vs. 6 weeks) compared to that of the animal who was not administered an opioid.

Image result for glial cells


The hopeful finding is that researchers have proposed an idea of what is taking place and are in the process of developing a pharmaceutical to block imflammasome created by glial cells.  I know, another pill, yet at this point there are no quick fixes.

Living in America, a country in Opioid crisis, research in this area is overdue and paramount in addressing individual and community health.



  • Drug overdoses have since become the leading cause of death of Americans under 50, with two-thirds of those deaths from opioids.”
  • In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to
    give every American adult their own bottle of pills.
  • The prescribing rates for prescription opioids among adolescents and young adults
    nearly doubled from 1994 to 2007
  • 48,000 women died of prescription pain reliever overdoses between 1999 and 2010.

After reading a few of these statistics taken from various sources, I have more questions rather than answers.  I try to be critical without being cynical, yet how has it reached this point.  Wasn’t research performed prior to the prescription process?  Haven’t medical professionals observed the negative effects in their patient population?  And why has the research performed on rats just been performed in 2016.  Oxycodone has been around since 1939 but was heavily prescribed as early as 1996.  Surely we can learn from this going forward.