Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Modes Of Chronic Pain Relief

In the past, many have actually believed that “chronic pain is all in the head.” However, today's pain specialists understand how the sensation of pain occurs. According to Rollin M. Gallagher, MD, MPH, director of pain management at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, the nervous system, including the spinal cord, interacts with the brain to create the sensation of pain.

Learning how to manipulate the neurotransmitter system paved the way for new modes of chronic pain relief, antidepressants, and other drugs that work with specific brain chemicals that affect emotions and help with the perception of pain.

Advances in MRI imaging allow researchers to demonstrate that the changes are very real in the brain, showing exactly where the sensation of pain is occurring in the brain when it is activated by stimuli. MRI imaging clearly shows the effects of pain on emotion, and vice versa.

These insights help pain specialists to develop treatments that attack moderate-to-severe chronic pain from different angles -- innovative drugs, targeted nerve-zapping procedures, and drug pumps that deliver strong painkillers to the nerve root.

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