Most observers believe that an adrenaline agent given to an intractable pain patient will automatically raise blood pressure and pulse rate. This is generally a myth, because the person with intractable pain often depletes their reserve of dopamine, noradrenalin and adrenaline.
The use of an adrenaline agent will serve to replace these depleted neurotransmitters and will not generally cause blood pressure and pulse rate to rise. Periodic monitoring is, however, recommended to be continued.
A person with intractable pain due to AA, EDS, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), or another severe and tragic condition will usually have the following conditions – all of which will benefit by an adrenaline agent:
Recent research has learned that constant, intractable pain establishes a “biologic battery” in the brain and spinal cord. This “battery” sends electric currents down the autonomic (non-spinal cord nerves) nervous system. Symptoms of this descending pain include excess heat, muscle spasms, jerking, tremors, sweating and “all-over” pain.
In contrast to other forms of pain, descending pain isn’t well controlled by opioids and anti-inflammatory agents. The drugs clonidine and tizanidine are less effective. Only adrenaline agents stop it. Some adrenaline agents for persons with AA and EDS include:
Every person with intractable pain due to AA, EDS, RSD, cancer or other painful disease, should educate themselves on adrenaline agents and discuss them with their medical practitioners in order to either lower their opioid dosage or keep it from escalating.
Simply stated, a person with intractable pain needs at least a small dose of an adrenaline agent for pain relief and optimal function.
Forest Tennant, MD, MPH, DrPH, has retired from clinical practice but continues his groundbreaking research on the treatment of intractable pain and arachnoiditis. This column is adapted from a bulletin recently issued by the Arachnoiditis Research and Education Project of the Tennant Foundation, and is republished with permission. Correspondence should be sent firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Tennant and the Tennant Foundation have given financial support to Pain News Network and are currently sponsoringPNN’s Patient Resources section.