Hand Osteoarthritis: Hydroxychloroquine No More Effective Than Placebo

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Sarah Kingsbury PhD
Osteoarthritis Strategic Lead
Deputy Section Head, Musculoskeletal Medicine and Imaging
Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine
University of Leeds

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Osteoarthritis of the hand is a painful and disabling condition, estimated to effect up to 31 per cent of people aged over 70. It can stop people from carrying out everyday activities and can limit their quality of life. The first-line pharmacological treatments for hand osteoarthritis, including paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are often not effective and are associated with side effects. Doctors have used hydroxychloroquine, an established treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, as an off-label alternative, supported by increasing evidence that inflammation is a factor in osteoarthritis. Until now, there has not been a large-scale study into whether using hydroxychloroquine works.

HERO was a 12 month randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled, pragmatic trial, designed with a view to replicate anecdotal reports of hydroxychloroquine use in clinical practice, and  powered to detect a moderate effect equivalent to that for NSAIDs in this population. The study involved 248 patients at 13 NHS hospitals in England: all had the condition for at least 5 years, had changes to the joints in their hands consistent with osteoarthritis and reported moderate to severe pain on at least half of the days in the previous three months to the study commencing.

Participants were randomised 1:1 to either hydroxychloroquine or placebo and followed up at 3 monthly intervals for 12 months. The study found that patients initially reported a small reduction in the severity of pain before the improvement plateaued. However, a similar amount of change was seen in both the group receiving hydroxychloroquine medication and the group taking the placebo.

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Opioids For Pain Can Exacerbate Pneumococcal Infections

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Andrew Wiese, PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Health Policy Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Dr. Wiese

Andrew Wiese, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Health Policy
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: As opioid use has increased in the U.S., the safety of prescription opioids has come under further scrutiny.

In animal studies, use of certain opioids has been associated with increased susceptibility to bacterial infections, including infectious due to Streptococcus pneumoniae, the pathogen that causes invasive pneumococcal disease. Invasive pneumococcal disease includes bacteremia, meningitis, and invasive pneumonia, all of which are associated with high mortality. Although those associations have been well established in animal experiments, it is important to understand the risk of serious infections among humans taking prescription opioid analgesics.

We found that prescription opioid use is associated with a significantly increased risk for laboratory-confirmed invasive pneumococcal diseases, and that this association was strongest for opioids used at high doses, those classified as high potency and long-acting formulations.

The data also showed that opioids previously described as immunosuppressive in prior experimental studies conducted in animals had the strongest association with invasive pneumococcal diseases in humans. Continue reading

Marijuana Dispensaries Have Ability To Reduce Opioid Overdoses and Substance Abuse

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David Powell  PhD Economist; Core Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School RAND, Santa Monica     MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?   Response: There has been some research suggesting that the adoption of state medical marijuana laws leads to reductions in prescriptions for opioid analgesics among certain populations and opioid-related overdoses overall.  However, medical marijuana laws are very different across states and they have changed over time as well.  We wanted to understand what components of a medical marijuana law could potentially lead to reductions in overdoses and substance abuse.  We focused specifically on the role of dispensaries, given their importance in providing access to medical marijuana, and tested for different effects in states with and without legally-protected and operational dispensaries.  We found that dispensaries are critical to reduce opioid-related overdoses and substance abuse.  We also found evidence that more recently-adopting states have experienced smaller reductions in overdoses and opioid substance abuse, potentially because the more recent adopters tend to enforce more stringent guidelines for dispensaries than the early adopters.   MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?  Response: We find that the introduction of medical marijuana dispensaries has the potential to reduce opioid-related harms quite significantly.  More broadly, it also suggests that, when we think about the opioid crisis, improving access to pain management alternatives may be a useful mechanism for reducing dependence on opioids.        MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?  Response: During most of the time period that we studied, prescription opioids were driving the opioid crisis, but it has recently transitioned to the point where heroin and illicit synthetic opioids are playing more prominent roles.  We are hesitant to suggest that medical marijuana access will have the same scope in a climate in which synthetic opioids and heroin are the primary substances of abuse.  Future work could do more to explore the potential of different types of medical marijuana laws to reduce overdoses related to these substances.        Citations: Do medical marijuana laws reduce addictions and deaths related to pain killers? ☆ •David Powella, , ,  •	Rosalie Liccardo Paculaa, b,  Mireille Jacobsonb  RAND, Santa Monica, United States  NBER Cambridge, MA, United StatesUniversity of California, Irvine, United States Received 14 November 2015, Revised 15 August 2017, Accepted 30 December 2017, Available online 3 February 2018  Journal of Health Economics Volume 58, March 2018, Pages 29–42  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhealeco.2017.12.007  [wysija_form id="3"]   The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.

Dr. Powell

David Powell  PhD
Economist; Core Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School
RAND, Santa Monica 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There has been some research suggesting that the adoption of state medical marijuana laws leads to reductions in prescriptions for opioid analgesics among certain populations and opioid-related overdoses overall.  However, medical marijuana laws are very different across states and they have changed over time as well.  We wanted to understand what components of a medical marijuana law could potentially lead to reductions in overdoses and substance abuse.  We focused specifically on the role of dispensaries, given their importance in providing access to medical marijuana, and tested for different effects in states with and without legally-protected and operational dispensaries.

We found that dispensaries are critical to reduce opioid-related overdoses and substance abuse.  We also found evidence that more recently-adopting states have experienced smaller reductions in overdoses and opioid substance abuse, potentially because the more recent adopters tend to enforce more stringent guidelines for dispensaries than the early adopters.   Continue reading

Migraine Surgery Markedly Reduced Pain Intensity and Disability

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Migraine” by makelessnoise is licensed under CC BY 2.0Lisa Gfrerer, MD PhD

Clinical Fellow in Surgery
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
William Gerald Austen MD
Chief, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Chief, Division of Burn Surgery
Massachusetts General Hospital

 MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Migraine surgery patients at our institution are chronic pain patients who have failed conservative therapy and are severely disabled by their disease.

We initiated this study to understand two important points. First, it was previously unclear how to categorize these patients in terms of pain intensity and disability on the spectrum of better known pain conditions such as chronic back pain/ nerve pain/ carpal tunnel.  This is very important to appreciate the extent of this disease. Second, instead of collecting migraine characteristic such as decrease in migraine days/ duration/ pain, we wanted to understand how functionally disabled these patients are in their daily lives and how much better they get after surgery. This is ultimately what matters to patients.

We therefore decided to evaluate our outcomes by using the Pain Self Efficacy Questionnaires (PSEQ). This validated pain questionnaire has been used to describe pain intensity/disability in patients with different acute and chronic pain conditions.

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Survey Finds Americans Routinely Ignore Over-the-Counter Pain Medication Labels

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Charles Melbern (Mel) Wilcox, MD, MSPH Director of the division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology University of Alabama-Birmingham

Dr. Wilcox

Charles Melbern (Mel) Wilcox, MD, MSPH
Director of the division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
University of Alabama-Birmingham 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this survey? What are the main findings?

Response: Nearly every person experiences pain at some point in their life – for many, the pain is acute and occasional, but for others, the pain is chronic and can be debilitating. Research shows that more than 25.3 million Americans suffer from daily pain and, every year, consumers purchase more than $20 billion per year on over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines. In my work with the American Gastroenterological Association, we set out to explore the behaviors, beliefs, and misunderstandings that Americans have when it comes to OTC pain medicines. We surveyed 1,015 U.S. adults and 251 gastroenterologists to gain insight on how they were approaching pain management and OTC pain medicine use.

The survey found that Americans are routinely ignoring OTC pain medicine labels and are not consulting their health-care professionals about their pain before taking OTC pain medicines. As a direct result, gastroenterologists are noticing their patients experiencing complications and unintentional overdose symptoms. They see an average of 90 overdose cases each year, about two a week, due to OTC pain medicine overdose.

Ninety percent of gastroenterologists believe their patients require more and better education on how to use OTC pain medicine safely. They find that patients are not fully understanding the harms associated with taking too much. When asked why patients take more than the recommended dose, Americans say that they are confident in their ability to manage their medication (32 percent) or they wanted to feel better faster, mistakenly thinking more medicine would be the solution (73 percent).

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Thunderclap Headache: Ottawa Rule To Exclude Subarachnoid Bleeding

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jeff Perry, MD, MSc, CCFP-EM Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine Senior Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute Research Chair in Emergency Neurological Research, University of Ottawa Emergency Physician and Epidemiology Program The Ottawa Hospital Ottawa, Ontario

Dr. Perry

Jeff Perry, MD, MSc, CCFP-EM
Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine
Senior Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Research Chair in Emergency Neurological Research, University of Ottawa
Emergency Physician and Epidemiology Program
The Ottawa Hospital
Ottawa, Ontario

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Headache accounts for about 1-2% of all emergency department visits.  One of the most feared diagnosis within these patients is subarachnoid hemorrhage. While investigations are clearly warranted for patients with a diminished level of consciousness or new focal neurological deficits, approximately 50% of patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) have no focal or global neurological findings. Deciding whether to image headache patients with no deficits is difficult, especially since timely diagnosis and treatment results in substantially better outcomes.

The desire to never miss a subarachnoid hemorrhage, however, contributes to escalating neuroimaging rates and a dogmatic adherence to lumbar puncture, even if the scan is negative, despite the very high sensitivity of computed tomography. However, a recent population-based study suggested that over 5% of confirmed subarachnoid hemorrhages were missed at initial presentation, especially in smaller hospitals. Therefore, identifying which headache patients require investigations to rule-out SAH is of great importance.

We have previously derived (N=1,999) and refined (N=2,131) the Ottawa SAH Rule. In this study, we conducted an multicenter prospective cohort study at six tertiary care hospitals, and found that the Ottawa SAH Rule performed well, with an 100% sensitivity, and specificity of 13.6%.

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Pulsed Radiofrequency As a Surgical Free Approach To Low Back Pain

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Alessandro Napoli

Dipartimento di Scienze Radiologiche
Unità di Terapia con Ultrasuoni Focalizzati
Sapienza Università di Roma, Policlinico Umberto I
Rome

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Low back pain and sciatica are very common conditions affecting at least 80% of the population (once in life) with detrimental impact on quality of life. Pain cause is often a lumbar disc herniation with sciatic nerve compression. Treatment strategy is primarily conservative (drugs and physical therapy) and when symptoms are persisting for more than 4 consecutive weeks, surgery is advocated.

Many patients prefer to avoid surgery for multiple reasons (recurrence rate, risk-related to the intervention and post-surgical sequela).

Technology advances with percutaneous techniques allowed more recently to fill the gap between conservative strategy and surgery for the management of lumbar disc herniation and related low back pain extending to the leg(s). Patients are offered local injection for symptoms relief with limited results. Therefore, other non-to-mini invasive approaches are clinically tested for prolonged clinical efficacy. Pulsed radiofrequency is a promising percutaneous approach mainly used for chronic pain. We aimed to test pulsed radiofrequency in patients refractory to conservative treatments, indicated to surgery.

Our study demonstrated that radiofrequency with pulsed technique, performed under CT image guidance, is able to control pain in a surgical-free, single session, lasting 10 minutes. The procedure is highly attractive since can be considered nearly risk-free with high rate of success. In our series 80% of patients treated with pulsed radiofrequency resulted pain free (VAS pain score 0 out of 10) at 1, 3 and 12 months follow-up; 90% did not required anymore surgery.

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Methadone As First Line Opioid in Cancer Pain Management

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sebastiano Mercadante, MD Anesthesia and Intensive Care Unit and Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit La Maddalena Cancer Center Department of Anesthesia, Intensive Care & Emergencies University of Palermo Palermo, Italy

Dr. Mercadante

Sebastiano Mercadante, MD
Anesthesia and Intensive Care Unit and Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit
La Maddalena Cancer Center
Department of Anesthesia, Intensive Care & Emergencies
University of Palermo
Palermo, Italy

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There are many clinical experiences suggesting that methadone, when optimally used by skilled physicians, has invaluable properties in the management of cancer pain. Methadone used as first opioid may provide interesting advantages due to the low tendency to induce tolerance, while providing a clinical profile similar to that of other opioids. Moreover, methadone possesses other extra-opioid effects that can be of interest.

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Migraines More Frequent With Increased Anxiety and Depression

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“Headache.” by Avenue G is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Headache.” by Avenue G

Fu-Chi Yang, M.D., Ph.D.Assistant Professor
Department of Neurology,
Tri-Service General Hospital
National Defense Medical Center
Taipei, Taiwan

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Migraineurs are likely to suffer from comorbid depression and anxiety. Furthermore, increased migraine frequency is associated with an increased risk of mood/anxiety disorders. It is not distinguished by grouping frequency of migraine attacks, whether it is associated with severity scores of depression and anxiety. Thus, we evaluated the relationship between severity of depression/anxiety and migraine frequency

We mainly found that the severity of depression (BDI and HADS-depression scores) and anxiety (HADS anxiety score) were related to migraine frequency, after adjusting confounding factors.

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Yoga May Reduce Disability and Opioid Use In Veterans With Chronic Low Back Pain

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Erik Groessl PhD Associate Adjunct Professor Family Medicine and Public Health University of California, San Diego

Dr. Groessl

Erik Groessl PhD
Associate Adjunct Professor
Family Medicine and Public Health
University of California, San Diego

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Chronic low back pain (cLBP) is prevalent among military veterans, but cLBP treatment options have limited benefits and side effects. This has resulted in efforts to reduce opioid use and embrace nonpharmacological pain treatments.

Yoga has been shown to improve health outcomes and have few side effects in non-veteran community samples.

Our objective was to study the effectiveness and safety of yoga for military veterans with chronic low back pain.  In a study of 150 veterans with cLBP, we found that yoga participants had greater reductions in disability and pain than those receiving usual. Opioid medication use declined among all participants, and no serious side effects occurred.

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