Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have shown that people suffering from chronic pain due to nervous system damage improved significantly after taking the morphine-like opioid medication, levorphanol. Dr. Michael Rowbotham, director of the UCSF Pain Clinical Research Center, says although controversial, there is now evidence that using opioids to treat chronic pain is a viable treatment option.
Rowbotham: Opioids are controversial for treating chronic pain because they're highly regulated substances because of their abuse potential and because they are frequently abused. But all the work done over the past ten to twelve years in patients with neuropathic pain has supported the concept that neuropathic pain does respond to opioids.
Narrator: Rowbotham found that study participants receiving the higher strength capsules of levorphanol had a significant reduction in pain.
Rowbotham: But they achieved that by taking significantly fewer capsules.
Narrator: Still, Rowbotham warns that opioids are not for everyone. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.