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UBC researchers seek participants for spinal cord injury study

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Chronic pain is a common and often debilitating problem that can significantly impact function and quality of life for patients with spinal cord injury.

To help find treatment solutions, UBC researchers are investigating the effectiveness of a drug called Targin at treating chronic pain in individuals with spinal cord injury. The research team is now recruiting study participants.

Dr. Andrei Krassioukov — the study’s principal investigator, professor in the UBC faculty of medicine’s department of medicine, chair in rehabilitation research at ICORD, and staff physician at the spinal cord injury program at the GF Strong Rehab Centre in Vancouver — explains the purpose of the study and how eligible patients can get involved.

Why is chronic pain difficult to treat in spinal cord injury patients?

Chronic pain after spinal cord injury could be the result of injury to soft tissue, bone, or to fragile spinal cord tissue. Treating chronic pain in patients with spinal cord injury is rather challenging since many of the pain management medications, such as opioids, are accompanied with side effects that can exacerbate health-related complications and limitations that stem from having a spinal cord injury. For instance, spinal cord injury can often affect bowel function, a condition known as neurogenic bowel, which can have a degree of symptoms ranging from diarrhea and/or constipation to potentially life-threatening episodes of a condition called autonomic dysreflexia—a syndrome in which there is a sudden onset of excessively high blood pressure.

Dr. Andrei Krassioukov

What is Targin, and how does it work?

Targin is a combination medication, containing oxycodone and naloxone. Oxycodone is an opioid for pain management, while naloxone is used to reduce the constipation symptoms caused by oxycodone. Targin has the potential to improve opioid-induced constipation, frequency and severity of autonomic dysreflexia episodes, and quality of life in patients with spinal cord injuries.

Why is it important to study the effectiveness of oxycodone-naloxone in patients with spinal cord injury specifically?

Targin is currently approved by Health Canada for the treatment of moderate-to-severe chronic pain. The main focus of our study is on the effectiveness and safety of Targin specifically in patients with spinal cord injuries as this has yet to be thoroughly investigated in this population. We hope that the information learned from this study can be used in the future to benefit other people with similar conditions.

In a time where communities are focused on the current opioid crisis, it is important that we not forget that the appropriate use of opioids for many individuals is still needed for adequate pain management. In order to overcome their daily struggle, these individuals require medical assistance to help with management of this devastating chronic pain.

Patients interested in participating are asked to contact Dr. Andrei Krassioukov at

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