Association between medically assisted detoxification and neuropathic pain
evidence and practice    

Association between medically assisted detoxification and neuropathic pain

Iain Wilson Clinical nurse specialist, complex pain team, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, England
Trevor Thompson Associate professor of clinical research, School of Human Sciences, University of Greenwich, London, England

Why you should read this article
  • To understand the association between neuropathic pain and high-risk alcohol use

  • To learn how chronic pain can develop on withdrawal from alcohol

  • To familiarise yourself with the concept that previous medically assisted detoxification may increase the risk of neuropathic pain

Background High-risk alcohol use is correlated with chronic pain. Chronic pain and alcohol dependence are associated with similar neurological, endocrinological and behavioural patterns, and it has been hypothesised that symptoms of neuropathic pain are exacerbated following alcohol withdrawal.

Aim To investigate the presence of neuropathic pain upon withdrawal from alcohol, in people with high-risk alcohol use with or without a history of medically assisted detoxification.

Method A small observational cross-sectional study investigated the presence of neuropathic pain in two groups of hospitalised adults exhibiting high-risk alcohol use: one group with a history of medically assisted detoxification, the other group with no history of medically assisted detoxification.

Results The results provided some evidence that neuropathic pain is more likely to be experienced by people with high-risk alcohol use who have previously undergone medically assisted detoxification.

Conclusion Understanding that previous medically assisted detoxification may increase the risk of neuropathic pain means that nurses can improve their preparation when assessing, monitoring and managing neuropathic pain in people recovering from high-risk alcohol use. Nurses will be able to direct patients recovering from high-risk alcohol use to available pain management support in a timely manner, for example a local pain clinic, possibly even before detoxification. This is important given the links between pain, relapse into alcohol use and addiction to analgesics.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2021.e11604

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

@iainwilson10

Correspondence

iwilson5@nhs.net

Conflict of interest

None declared

Wilson I, Thompson T (2021) Association between medically assisted detoxification and neuropathic pain. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2021.e11604

Published online: 19 July 2021

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