From headaches and muscle aches to post-surgery complications and chronic pain conditions, there’s no shortage of reasons why someone might seek pain management drugs. While medication can bring relief, it can also bring negative side effects that are even worse than the pain itself.

Of the 170 million Americans taking prescription drugs, about 81 million experience adverse effects.

At Clarity X, we help narrow down treatment options through genetic testing for pain management. Here’s a closer look at how our services can help you find the ideal treatment.

What Is Genetic Testing for Pain Management?

Our DNA determines everything from how we look to what health conditions we may get in the future. While we can’t change our genetics, we can use that information to our advantage by conducting DNA testing. DNA is responsible for producing enzymes, a protein used to metabolize medications. If an enzyme works too quickly or too slowly, the medication either becomes ineffective or causes harmful side effects.

Each DNA molecule is made up of a sequence of nucleotides — a small variation in this sequence can affect the function of enzymes, consequently affecting how they break down certain medications. Through a simple, at-home saliva test, ClarityX can examine the genetic material in DNA and pinpoint any variations that might interfere with your ability to metabolize medications. Not only does this help you avoid potentially harmful medications, but it also saves you the trouble of going through a “trial and error” process just to find a treatment that works.

What Does DNA Testing for Pain Management Cover?

To understand what DNA testing for pain management covers, we have to review the different pain management treatments available. In general, pain medication can be divided into three main categories:

  • Over the Counter (OTC): These medications, which can be obtained without a prescription, are suitable for several kinds of pain (such as headaches, stomachaches, and muscle soreness). Examples include Tylenol, Aspirin, and ibuprofen.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID): These medications are available both OTC and through a prescription. Typically, a prescription NSAID is only provided if OTC drugs do not work. OTC NSAIDs include Aspirin and Aleve, while prescription NSAIDs include Daypro and Clinoril.
  • Opioids: This is the most powerful class of pain relievers. Although opioids are known for their effectiveness, they can also cause serious side effects (and, in some cases, addiction). Examples include oxycodone and morphine.

Our services cover genetic testing for opioid metabolism, as well as OTC drugs and NSAID metabolism. Through a pharmacogenetics DNA test, we can tell you how your body will respond to over 265 FDA-approved medications across a myriad of areas, from neurology and immunology to psychiatry and oncology. We also offer panels specifically for heart health and mental wellness. Whether the source of your pain is an accident or a separate health condition (such as cancer), genetic testing for pain management can help you find the best option.

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What Are Some Examples of Genetic Testing for Pain Meds?

Genetic testing for pain meds focuses on genes that encode the cytochrome P450 (CYP450) enzyme, which affects the metabolism of 70 – 80% of clinically used drugs. CYP450 plays a role in the metabolism of most opioids (with the exception of morphine, oxymorphone, and hydromorphone). Here are some enzymes that genetic testing for opioid metabolism examines:

  • CYP2D6: This enzyme is responsible for metabolizing drugs like oxycodone and codeine. A CYP2D6 mutation can inhibit your ability to metabolize these medications, leading to inadequate pain relief. Conversely, if you metabolize them too rapidly, you may feel increased sedation and be more susceptible to addiction.
  • CYP3A4: This enzyme regulates opioids such as fentanyl and methadone. Metabolizing them poorly puts you at greater risk for negative side effects, such as elevated blood levels and blood toxicity.
  • CYP2C9: Although it plays a role in metabolizing some strong drugs, CYP2C9 is primarily responsible for metabolizing aspirin and NSAIDs (such as diclofenac). A gene mutation can cause an adverse reaction to these drugs, such as renal and gastrointestinal problems.

With all the different pain medications out there, it’s important to avoid taking ones that your enzymes aren’t equipped to handle. A simple DNA test can go a long way in preventing unwanted side effects.

Who Needs Genetic Testing for Pain Medications?

While anyone can get a DNA test done if they wish, some people may have a greater need than others. You should consider genetic testing for pain medications if the following applies to you:

  • Your current pain medication causes side effects: If you are unhappy with your prescribed pain medication, that’s a sign that your enzymes are reacting poorly. Genetic testing can help you and your doctor determine which treatments may be better for you.
  • You are at risk for a painful health condition: If you notice pain symptoms, or have a family history of a condition that may cause pain, you may benefit from genetic testing. Even if you are not currently diagnosed, a test can prepare you for future treatment options.
  • You are predisposed to genetic variations: You may be more likely to metabolize medications poorly if you have a family history of genetic variations. Your ethnicity can also put you at greater risk for certain mutations.

The sooner you test your DNA, the sooner you can find the right medication for your unique needs.

Where Can I Get Genetic Testing for Pain Management?

Whether you’re looking for new pain medication or just want to be prepared for future treatments, genetic testing for pain management can help. At ClarityX, we provide comprehensive panels so that you and your doctor can make the best decision for your health. Take control of your health by ordering a test kit today!