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The Role of Genetics in Pain Mangement

Pain management is a complicated field.  For one thing, there is an objective goal--that is to say, to determine what is causing pain in the first place, and what to do about it. But we also have to consider subjective aspect of pain management.  One of the tenets of pain management is this: If a person says they are in pain, we cannot deny that the pain exists.  But sometimes it's hard to determine why that person is experiencing this discomfort, or why it seems to be as severe as they claim.

In recent years the genetic aspect of pain management is under closer study.  One example of this is a group from Touro College of Pharmacy in New York City.  Dr. Priyank Kumar and his associates are looking at a specific human gene--namely, 118G. They are finding that variations in this particular gene help to predict a patient's response to opioids, and also the risk of respiratory depression, opioid misuse and even addiction.

Genetic testing of this sort may become commonplace in pain management of the future, especially since we are all well aware of the dangers of widespread opioid prescribing.  Perhaps we will be able to predict best treatment approaches for all patients, whether they include opioid treatment or not.
What a world it would be!

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Sources: Practical Pain Management, Wikimedia


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