Managing Chronic Pain through Pharmacognetics

Managing Chronic Pain through Pharmacogenetics 1
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Managing Chronic Pain through Pharmacogenetics 2
Managing Chronic Pain through Pharmacogenetics
Chronic pain is a challenging medical condition and one of the leading causes of
morbidity and mortality around the globe. Individuals often suffer persistent and life-altering
pain. Besides, they frequently experience oncologic and psychological co-morbidities, which
further complicate their conditions. Medical researchers have established a vicious cycle of
chronic pain that comprises pain, avoidance behaviors, decreased mobility, an altered functional
status, diminished self-efficacy, and social limitations among the patients (Kapur, Lala, & Shaw
2014). Unrelieved pain causes psychological and physiological effects on patients. As such,
integration of genetic testing in pain management is critical. This paper explores how
pharmacogenetic testing can enhance the management of chronic pain.
Pharmacogenetic testing (PT) is a huge step towards chronic pain management. It
replaces the trial-and-error methods of medication therapy, which contribute to the long-term
effects of uncontrolled pain (Kapur, Lala, & Shaw 2014). Medical practitioners can enhance
patient outcomes by determining the genetic determinants that influence response to medicines.
Genetic testing has reduced preventable morbidity and mortality that stem from drug-drug and
patient-drug interactions (Vehof et al. 2014). Also, integrating genetic testing in chronic pain
management provides a cost-effective care as it eludes inappropriate medications, increases
patient safety, satisfaction, and safe medication.
DeFeo et al. (2014, p. 532) observe that patients with chronic pain may respond
differently to the same therapeutic prescription due to their genetic variations. For instance, one
patient may experience pain relief while the other might still be in pain after receiving a similar
treatment (Vehof et al. 2014). Genetic testing helps physicians to determine dosage and the type
Managing Chronic Pain through Pharmacogenetics 3
of medication that can efficaciously treat different patients. Genetic variations are responsible for
the failure of trial-and-error treatment methods that dominate pain management. Nevertheless,
pharmacogenomics has helped medical practitioners to explore how inherited or acquired genetic
differences determine individuals’ interactions with medication therapy. Wong and Fielding
(2012, p. 28) claim that the fundamental aim of pharmacogenetic testing is to enhance chronic
pain management through customized drug treatment for individual patients. A proper
understanding of the genetic makeup of patients is the first step in determining the type of
There are various acknowledged genetic societies globally including the Professional
Society (PRO), and the Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium (CPIC) among
others, which have established guidelines for genetic testing and the administration of opioid
analgesics that determine genetic makeup and their influence on dosages (Vehof et al. 2014). The
testing takes into account additional factors such as age; other medications administered lifestyle,
diet, nutrition, environment, and drug addiction among others. Chronic pain caretakers follow the
guidelines to determine ways of delivering medication therapy to genetically variant patients
efficaciously than ever before.
Chronic pain results in many unanticipated healthcare outcomes in many countries
around the world. Recent research indicates that genetic testing is a major booster for chronic
pain management. Trial-and-error pain treatment methods are responsible for the co-morbidities
and mortality rates among patients with chronic pain. Nevertheless, an emerging area of study
called pharmacogenomics suggests that genetic testing of patients can determine how patients are
Managing Chronic Pain through Pharmacogenetics 4
likely to respond to medication therapy. Hence, chronic pain managers can administer drugs
when they are confident about their outcomes.
Managing Chronic Pain through Pharmacogenetics 5
DeFeo, K, Sykora, K, Eley, S, & Vincent, D 2014, 'How does pharmacogenetic testing alter the
treatment course and patient response for chronic-pain patients in comparison with the
current 'trial-and-error' standard of care?', Journal of the American Association of Nurse
Practitioners, vol. 26, no. 10, pp. 530-536.
Kapur, BM, Lala, PK, & Shaw, JL 2014, 'Review: Pharmacogenetics of chronic pain
management,' Clinical Biochemistry, vol. 47, pp. 1169-1187.
Vehof, J, Zavos, HM, Lachance, G, Hammond, CJ, & Williams, FM 2014, 'Shared genetic
factors underlie chronic pain syndromes,' Pain, vol. 155, pp. 1562-1568.
Wong, WS, & Fielding, R 2012, 'The co-morbidity of chronic pain, insomnia, and fatigue in the
general adult population of Hong Kong: Prevalence and associated factors,' Journal of
Psychosomatic Research, no. 1, p. 28.

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