Pain can be a very useful warning signal. Hit your thumb with a hammer and this stimulates pain receptors in the skin, a signal is sent to the brain, and it hurts. The natural reaction is to bandage the thumb, where – upon the pain subsides. But this picture does not tie in well with something like long-term joint pain, which is one of the most common pain conditions. Joint pain often starts when pain receptors are stimulated by inflammation, but even once all signs of the inflammation have gone, something often continues to cause pain – the question is what ?
“The inflammation activates the pain nerves, and in some cases this eventually leads to something changing in the actual pain system so that the pain persists, and it’s this change that we’re trying to understand,” says Camilla Svensson, a researcher at Karolinska Institute’s Department of Physiology and Pharmacology in Stockholm, Sweden.
We now know that between the pain receptors and the brain are a number of relay stations which all affect the final perception of pain. Camilla Svensson’s research focuses on the interplay between the inflammation in the joint and activity at the first relay station, where chemical messengers transmit the pain signal from the peripheral nerves to the neural pathways in the spinal cord. Continue reading Developments in Pain Research
COFFEE addicts may be unusually sensitive to pain and prone to panic disorders.
A team led by Björn Johansson of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden looked at mice that had had the gene coding for an adenosine receptor in their brains disabled. A high dose of caffeine has the same effect in people. The mice seemed healthy, with normal growth and heart rates, but tests showed they were unusually anxious and sensitive to pain (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 98, p 9407).
People who drink up to around six coffees a day should be all right, since this amount of caffeine blocks only half their adenosine receptors. But higher doses might cause similar symptoms.
ACETYLSALICYLIC acid is widely seen as a modern miracle-a wonder drug of the 20th century. Curious, then, that its natural precursor was first prescribed as early as 400 BC by Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. He gave it as an infusion of willow bark to treat headaches and labour pains. It wasn’t until 23 centuries later, in 1899, that chemists isolated and modified the active ingredient. Doctors now know that it is not just a painkiller: it also lowers fever, eases inflammation and even reduces the risk of heart disease. The drug’s popular name is aspirin. Continue reading Anti-Inflammatory Drugs with fewer Side Effects ?
JON LEVINE was just testing painkillers on people who’d had a wisdom tooth extracted, when he uncovered rather more than he’d bargained for. The women in his study group found that strong painkillers related to morphine, called kappa-opioids, were most effective at numbing pain. But the same drugs didn’t work for the men at all. “In fact, the doses used in the clinical trial made pain worse for men,” says Levine, a clinical neuroscientist from the University of California in San Francisco.
He was shocked. “The idea that a therapy that had been around for decades could affect women and men in such dramatically different ways was anathema,” he says. “It was such an incredible mindset in the field of pain, missing what had clearly gone on in front of their eyes for years.” Continue reading His Pain : Her Pain
IT’S all rubbish!” cry the sceptics steeped in conventional medicine. Yet for all their clamour, it’s clear that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) works, and can sometimes rid people of chronic disease. How do we bridge this gap? Do we continue to treat one branch of medicine as science and the other as magic? Perhaps there’s a third way.
Conventional medicine regards the body as a machine, like a jumbo jet or a computer. It assumes that the body becomes diseased in much the same way a machine breaks downwhen a specific part goes wrong.
CAM has a very different philosophy: the idea that the healthy body is a system in balance, and that disease can be created by a fault that is distributed over the whole body. Because this idea is so obviously at odds with convention, CAM has always appeared unscientific. Continue reading The Intelligent Body by Michael Hyland
Patient: Man 66 years Occupation: Retired Accountant Pain: 3/10
Complaint: This Gentleman is a keen Golfer, he has minor O.A. of the left Hip . Walking any distance causes pain in the groin and knee. The condition is not bad enough to need an Hip replacement operation. The pain is negligible at rest.