Eur J Pain 2002;6(1):69-80
Kalman S, Osterberg A, Sorensen J, Boivie J, Bertler A.
Department of Anaesthesiology, University Hospital, Linkoping, Sweden
Pain in multiple sclerosis (MS) is more common than has previously been believed.
About 28% of all MS patients suffer from central pain (CP), a pain that is difficult to treat.
In the present study we have investigated the responsiveness of this pain to morphine.
Fourteen opioid-free patients (eight woman and six men) with constant, non-fluctuating, long-lasting CP caused by MS were investigated.
Placebo (normal saline), morphine and naloxone were given intravenously in a standardized manner.
The study design was non-randomized, single blind and placebo controlled.
Ten patients experienced less than 50% pain reduction by placebo and less than 50% pain reduction by morphine.
Four patients were opioid responders, i.e. had minimal or no effect on pain by placebo, >50% pain reduction after morphine and >25% pain increase after naloxone, given intravenously following morphine.
However, this response was obtained after high doses of morphine (43mg, 47mg, 50mg and 25mg; mean 41mg).
Thus, compared with nociceptive pain, only a minority of the patients with CP due to MS responded to morphine and only at high doses.
The present results are in accord with experimental studies indicating that neuropathic pain is poorly responsive but not totally unresponsive to opioids.
The results do not support the routine use of strong opioids in MS patients
Copyright 2002 European Federation of Chapters of the International Association for the Study of Pain.