Novel Therapies for Centralized Pain: a Brief Review
Curr Pain Headache Rep
28 September 2022
Purpose of review: Centralized pain presents a complex pathology that many classic pharmacological agents for pain have not been able to sufficiently treat. To date, there are no clear guidelines for preferred treatment methods or comprehensive protocol that addresses confounding factors in this population. We sought to summarize the current field of knowledge around centrally mediated pain and to understand promising novel therapies.
Recent findings: Many treatments currently used address not only the centralized pain phenotypem but the impact of central sensitization and the common comorbidities that reside within this population. Some novel therapies with promising evidence include the following: low-dose naltrexone, IV ketamine, acupuncture, aerobic activity, and laser therapy. Non-interventional treatment options include aerobic exercise, cognitive-behavioral therapy, mind-body therapies, virtual reality, and patient education on disease expectations. Much of the literature further emphasizes the importance of patient-level predictors, including factors like pain catastrophizing and social history, on treatment compliance and reported pain relief. We found that there are many potential treatment options for patients with centralized pain, particularly those that can be used as adjunct or combination therapies. The introduction of new approaches should occur in a carefully controlled, titrated manner to avoid exacerbation of pain symptoms. This is successfully conducted through patient-physician communication as this is a highly complex and personalized pain category. Our examination shows that while physicians have many options with proven success, there is a need for studies with longitudinal and larger patient populations to better articulate treatment guidelines.
Keywords: Central sensitization; Centralized pain; Cognitive-behavioral therapy; Low-dose naltrexone; Nocioplastic pain; Patient education.