A study sheds new light on how opiate use affects the body.

FOX's Alex Hein has "Housecall for Health":

This is Housecall for Health.

While opioids are prescribed to help relieve chronic pain, a new study suggests these painkillers may actually do the opposite.

Published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers said that although their findings were drawn from mice, their observations may have implications for humans amid an opioid abuse epidemic in the U.S. that's killed at estimated 20,000 Americans in 2015.

Study authors found that only five days of morphine treatment caused chronic pain that persisted for several months by worsening pain signals from certain immune cells in the spinal cord.

Researchers observed that a peripheral nerve injury in rats relayed a signal from damaged nerve cells to spinal cord immune cells known as glial cells, which are supposed to clear unwanted debris. The first signal of pain triggers glial cells for further action, but five days of opioid treatment sends them into overdrive leading to spinal cord inflammation and other consequences.

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Housecall for Health, I'm Alex Hein, FOX News.

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