Testosterone replacement therapy is an essential part of many patient’s pain management plans. Many individuals who suffer from chronic pain have lowered levels of testosterone serum in their bodies, stemming from their chronic issue itself or the treatments they undergo to deal with their chronic pain symptoms. While testosterone levels are commonly related to only the male gender, adequate levels of testosterone in females are necessary as well. Below, we outline what a testosterone replacement treatment plan often consists of, and who may benefit from its use.
For most individuals suffering from chronic pain, a prescription opioid is prescribed. Common opioids include morphine, codeine, fentanyl, and oxycodone. In addition to being highly addictive, the continued use of opioids has been linked to a decrease in the production of testosterone. Low testosterone levels have been linked to an increase in sexual dysfunction, a decrease in muscle mass, increases in fat mass, and a lower quality of life. Additionally, a lack of testosterone activity in the CNS (central nervous system) may result in poor pain control, depression, sleep disturbances, and lack of energy and motivation.
If opioids are not prescribed, a decrease in the natural production of testosterone has been linked to the presence of a patient’s long-term pain itself. Constant, persistent, uncontrolled pain will, over time, exert enough stress on the hypothalamus and pituitary to cause an inadequate secretion of testosterone by the body.
If a patient is found to have decreased levels of testosterone, after testing, a testosterone replacement may be offered as an option for treatment. Testosterone replacement therapy is available in several forms. It can be administered via a skin patch or topical gel, an oral patch (inserted into the upper gums), or as injections (into the muscle) or implants (into soft tissue).
Testosterone deficiency may cause poor pain control, weakness, lethargy, depression, sleep disturbance, and loss of libido. Increased testosterone levels, however, have been linked to decreases in chronic or recurring pain by individuals who suffer from chronic illnesses, including fibromyalgia as well as increases in overall energy levels, and sex drive. Like with any treatment plan, or option, it is important to monitor a patient’s progress, and re-test their testosterone levels after 3-6 months of use.
If you believe that you may benefit from testosterone replacement therapy, please reach out to our team today. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss the options we have and which, if any, could assist in decreasing your pain levels and increasing your quality of life.
There are some reports of increased risk of stroke and/or cardiovascular issues when undergoing testosterone replacement therapy in patients with pre-existing cardiovascular issues. The treatment option is still in use, and patients with known cardiovascular disease should be well informed of a possible increased risk, so they are able to weigh the risks of hormone therapy versus its benefits before beginning the therapy.