Tiny Trial: WVU aims to help pain patients

WVU aims to help pain patients

Those experiencing severe, chronic pain have been victimized in two ways by opioid drugs, but West Virginia University researchers are concentrating on giving them some relief.

Widespread use of opioids for pain relief during a period of several years resulted in some people inadvertently becoming addicted to the substance. In many cases, neither they nor their doctors realized the peril until it was too late.

Now that the hazards of using opiates are better understood, some patients avoid the drugs and remain in pain. Others find it more difficult to obtain relief through opiates, even when they are used cautiously. Meanwhile, medical device manufacturers are finding some of their larger, wired pain-blocking implants are more dangerous than originally advertised.

WVU has established the Medicine Center for Integrative Pain Management to find answers to the problem. Top talent in the field has been attracted to Morgantown to work in a cutting-edge initiative.

Just this week, the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute at WVU began enrolling patients in a clinical trial that shows enormous promise.

A new technology, using a non-opioid drug called clonidine, is aimed at helping those who suffer from sciatica, which is a common cause of leg and back pain. Through the method being tested at WVU, tiny pellets, about half the size of a grain of rice, are implanted in patients’ lower backs.

“Our hope is that we can look back on this day and say we made a significant advance in the ongoing efforts to treat chronic pain and combat the opioid crisis,” commented Dr. Ali Rezai, executive chair of the institute.

Let us hope the clonidine trial is successful. In any case, however, the point is that WVU has taken a leading role in both battling the opioid crisis and helping victims of chronic pain. That is an enormous public service — and not just here in the Mountain State.

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