Making the Pain Worse

To Your Health
December, 2021 (Vol. 15, Issue 12)

Making the Pain Worse
By Editorial Staff

When you’re experiencing pain, you want relief – as quickly as possible. Pain caused by migraine headaches, often described by sufferers as among the worst pain imaginable, is the perfect example. Migraine sufferers want relief – immediate and total relief. That desire for relief often leads to medication use, either over the counter or something stronger – and more dangerous – such as opioids.
The opioid epidemic continues to kill hundreds of Americans every day due to misuse, abuse and addiction. Research suggests when it comes to managing migraine pain, opioids have another major drawback; they accomplish the exact opposite of what they’re intended to accomplish: pain relief. Opioids appear to increase both the frequency and severity of migraines, and researchers now understand why.

migraines – Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkMigraine pain and pain caused by opioid overuse seem to share a specific peptide – a chain of amino acids that can regulate brain-signaling pathways, among other functions. The peptide in question is called pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide, but knowing its name is far less important than appreciating its role in migraine and opioid pain – and understanding that opioid use can actually make migraine pain worse. Study findings are published in Molecular and Cellular Proteomics.

The moral to the story: Use opioids at your own peril, particularly if you suffer from migraines. Talk to your doctor about nondrug solutions for your pain, whether from migraines or any other issue.

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