Chronic Pain Almost Cured

Pain is a good thing, surprisingly. It alerts our bodies that something is wrong.

But some paints are simply pains, not warnings. Some pain is constant. About 100 million people (that’s one third of Americans) suffers from chronic pain.

Because pain is sometimes good, curing chronic pain has been wary research. Doctors don’t want to stop our body from recognizing when something is wrong, but they want the unnecessary pain to stop.

A lot of painkillers don’t even do the job they claim to. They mask the pain instead of cure the source, and that’s where the research begins: finding the source.

When something causes us pain – a burn or a cut – the site sends a message through our nerves to our spinal cord, which then alerts the brain. In the past, a lot of focus was placed on the nerves near the site of the problem.

Now, we’re focusing on the perception of said pain in the brain.

Kenneth Follett of the University of Nebraska investigates the effect of placing focus elsewhere. Brain scans of subjects’ anterior cingulated cortices showed that patients could, to some extent, control their pain sensations based on conditioning. It’s almost like “reshaping” the circuits in the brain.

Similar, some studies show that “rewiring” the brain helps. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is used to treat major depression, but studies are finding that the 8-inch coil placed in the head can actually disrupt the pathway of pain as well.

Other studies show that the glial cells are actually responsible for a lot more than they’ve gotten credit for in the past. The achiness of the flu is actually because of glial cells exciting the spinal cord neurons, alerting the brain of the pain. Altering the glial cells can be a huge step in controlling unnecessary, chronic pain.

There’s still a lot to be done, but we’re on the way to managing our pain. You can read a lot of the interesting research here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>