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Papers of the Week

Papers: 1 Jul 2023 - 7 Jul 2023


Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

2023 Jul 01

Korean J Pain




Antimicrobial therapies for chronic pain (part 2): the prevention and treatment of chronic pain.


Wang EJ, Dolomisiewicz E, Karri J, Tontisirin N, Cohen SP


The discovery and development of antimicrobial therapies represents one of the most significant advancements in modern medicine. Although the primary therapeutic intent of antimicrobials is to eliminate their target pathogens, several antimicrobials have been shown to provide analgesia as a secondary benefit. Antimicrobials have demonstrated analgesic effects in conditions that involve dysbiosis or potential subclinical infection (, chronic low back pain with Modic type 1 changes; chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain; irritable bowel syndrome; inflammatory bowel disease; functional gastrointestinal disorders/dyspepsia; myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome), and might even prevent the chronification of pain after acute infections that are associated with excessive systemic inflammation (, post COVID-19 condition/long Covid, rheumatic fever). Clinical studies often assess the analgesic effects of antimicrobial therapies in an observational manner, without the ability to identify causative relationships, and significant gaps in the understanding remain regarding the analgesic potential of antimicrobials. Numerous interrelated patient-specific, antimicrobial-specific, and disease-specific factors altogether contribute to the perception and experience of pain, and each of these requires further study. Given worldwide concerns regarding antimicrobial resistance, antimicrobials must continue to be used judiciously and are unlikely to be repurposed as primary analgesic medications. However, when equipoise exists among several antimicrobial treatment options, the potential analgesic benefits of certain antimicrobial agents might be a valuable aspect to consider in clinical decision-making. This article (the second in a two-part series) aims to comprehensively review the evidence on the prevention and treatment of chronic pain using antimicrobial therapies and suggest a framework for future studies on this topic.