The successful treatment of opioid withdrawal-induced refractory muscle spasms with 5-htp in a patient intolerant to clonidine

Jennfier Dais, Ankur Khosia, Gulshan Doulatram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Instituting drug holidays for chronic opioid using patients is becoming commonplace for pain practitioners initiating procedures such as intrathecal pump or spinal cord stimulator trials. As such, pain practitioners need to be adept in their management of acute opioid withdrawal. Successfully weaning an opioid dependent patient off of chronic opioids requires a thorough knowledge of the available adjuvants to assist in this process. However, that selection can become exhausted by adjuvant side effects or by ineffective attenuation of opioid withdrawal symptoms. In that case, novel drugs, or novel application of currently available medications must be sought after to assist in the drug holiday. We present a case in which refractory muscle spasms secondary to opioid withdrawal were successfully treated with an over-the-counter supplement that is not typically used for the attenuation of opioid withdrawal symptoms. In a patient intolerant to the side effects of clonidine, we were able to successfully wean chronic opiates by treating refractory muscle spasms with the serotonin precursor, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). We hypothesize that our success with this medication gives further credence to the role of serotonin in opioid withdrawal somatic symptomatology, and supports the need for future research to clarify the role of serotonin precursors or serotonin modulating drugs as potential alternatives in those unable to follow standard treatment protocols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E417-E420
JournalPain Physician
Volume18
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015

Keywords

  • 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
  • Chronic pain
  • Drug holiday
  • Muscle spasms
  • Opioid withdrawal
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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