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Chronic low back pain (LBP) is a debilitating condition associated with signs of axial and radiating pain. In humans with chronic LBP, opioids are often prescribed with varying outcomes and a multitude of side effects. Combination therapies, in which multiple pharmacological agents synergize to ameliorate pain without similar potentiation of adverse reactions, may be useful in improving therapeutic outcome in these patients. The SPARC-null mouse model of low back pain due to disc degeneration was used to assess the effects of opioid (morphine) andα2-adrenergic agonist (clonidine) coadministration on measures of axial and radiating pain. The results indicate that systemic morphine and clonidine, coadministered at a fixed dose of 100 : 1 (morphine : clonidine),show a synergistic interaction in reversing signs of axial LBP, in addition to improving the therapeutic window for radiating LBP.Furthermore, these improvements were observed in the absence of synergy in assays of motor function which are indicative of side effects such as sedation and motor incoordination. These data show that the addition of low-dose systemic clonidine improves therapeutic outcome in measures of both axial and radiating pain. Combination therapy could be of enormous benefit to patients suffering from chronic LBP.


Originally published as: Maral Tajerian, Magali Millecamps, and Laura S. Stone. "Morphine and Clonidine Synergize to Ameliorate Low Back Pain in Mice." Pain Research and Treatment, 2012. PMC3347752

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