A study conducted by researchers from the Lawson Health Research Institute evaluated the use of specialized treatments for chronic pain and their effect on opioid prescriptions and the use of health care.
A recent report by the “Toronto Star” stated that since 2011, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan had been billed more than $400 million for nerve block procedures. Paravertebral blocks (PVBs) are types of procedures classified under nerve blocks. They involve injecting drugs around the nerves where those nerves exit the spine’s bones at different locations depending on the chronic pain a patient is experiencing.
The efficacy of paravertebral blocks has been assessed in cancer pain, trauma and regional anesthesia during operations. However, it hasn’t been examined for use in chronic pain despite its common use. This, coupled with the limited evidence of the benefit of PVBs in decreasing chronic pain and its high cost has led to its use being questioned by health-care practitioners.
Estimates show that one in every five Canadians lives with chronic pain. Pain, especially pain that is not being managed properly, can impact all aspects of an individual’s life and health.
The aforementioned study, which was published in the “Canadian Journal of Pain,” discovered that more than 66,000 patients had a paravertebral block between 2013 July and 2018 in March. Of this number, almost 48,000 of those patients were recruited for the study.
The researchers found that a year after a patient first underwent a paravertebral block, the number of visits to the physician had increased significantly. The researchers added that after the initial treatment, additional paravertebral block procedures were performed, with nearly 8% of patients receiving more than 30 PVBs and more than 26% of patients getting the procedure done 10 or more times in a year.
This study offers a wide perspective on the use of paravertebral blocks and on the use of nerve-blocking treatments overall. It is the first study to document the effect these procedures have, both on opioid use and health-care utilization.
Lawson Associate scientist Dr. Eldon Loh explained that the use of paravertebral blocks was common, noting that beginning treatment with PVBs was linked to increases in health-care utilization, which included other injection procedures and physician visits.
Based on their discoveries, the researchers hope that the appropriate use of pain interventions such as paravertebral blocks will be re-assessed in order to ensure that the best outcomes are achieved with patients and that health resources are being managed properly.
However, patients shouldn’t despair if PVBs aren’t helping them as much as anticipated. Several psychedelics companies, including Tryp Therapeutics Inc. (CSE: TRYP) (OTCQB: TRYPF), are studying how various psychedelic compounds such as psilocybin can offer better clinical outcomes in the treatment of chronic pain. Preliminary studies are encouraging, and it may just be a matter of time before this new class of drugs is approved and made available to patients.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Tryp Therapeutics Inc. (CSE: TRYP) (OTCQB: TRYPF) available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/TRYPF
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