Great Information, Real Community, Better Living.
 Main Page
 MedTech News
Tech & Innovation
Living With a Device
 Education Center
Diagnostic Tests
Women's Health
Online Resources
Video Library
Dr. Christopher Kwolek  MedTech  Hero™
Dr. Christopher Kwolek:
Pioneering New Blood Clot Treatments.
About Heroes
 Join the Discussion in  Our Forums
MedTech1 Forums
 Advocacy Center
Contact Congress
Find a Patient Group
 Bookmark Us
Search the Body1 Network
August 08, 2020  
MEDTECH NEWS: Technology & Innovation

  • Print this Article
  • Email this Article
  • Links/Reprints
  • Researchers Identify Chronic Pain 'Switch'

    Researchers Identify Switch That Could Turn Off Chronic Pain

    November 21, 2006

    By: Laurie Edwards for Medtech1

    Researchers at Columbia University have discovered a molecular switch that may “turn off” chronic pain, potentially giving the 48 million sufferers in this country the relief they’ve been seeking.

    Unlike acute pain, which diminishes as the body recovers, chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts at least six months after the body has healed. Until now, the options for patients included medications like painkillers, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants, all options that do not always work and can pose serious side effects..
    Take Action
    While important, medication is just one of the many ways patients can manage chronic pain. Here are some other pain-relieving strategies:
  • Therapeutic stretching and strengthening activities can help minimize pain. Low-impact activity like walking, swimming and biking are also good ways to reduce pain, but overexerting yourself or not getting enough exercise can be harmful, so always consult with your physician to ensure you are getting the right amount of exercise.
  • Occupational therapy can help you learn to pace yourself and perform everyday tasks in different ways that won’t exacerbate your pain.
  • Behavioral and relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can help you relax and diminish stress levels that can worsen pain.
  • Simple lifestyle changes like getting regular and adequate sleep each night and avoiding naps can also help. Larger changes like quitting smoking may also reduce pain, since the nicotine in cigarettes can decrease the effectiveness of certain pain relievers.

  • But Columbia University researchers have approached treating chronic pain in a new way: they have discovered a protein in nerve cells called protein kinase G or PKG, that acts as a switch for chronic pain and is responsible for the long term activity of pain sensors even after injury and inflammation have subsided.

    “We’re very optimistic that this discovery and our continued research will ultimately lead to a novel approach for the millions suffering from chronic pain,” Dr. Richard Ambron of Columbia University’s Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology.

    The research done by Dr. Ambron and his colleague Dr. Ying-Ju Sung was published in the August issue of Neuroscience. Now that researchers have identified this molecular switch, they have applied for a patent to start developing medications that can turn it off permanently.

    Current medications focus on the second-order neurons in the spinal cord that send pain messages to the brain. These medications must cross the blood-brain barrier, which can decrease efficacy. In contrast, the drugs that affect PKG would work in the periphery of the body and not the brain, a location much further down the pain-signal pathway.

    Chronic pain is both widespread and hard to manage. The 2004 Americans Living With Pain Survey found that 72 percent of participants have lived with chronic pain for more than three years; a third of those people have lived with it for more than a decade.

    Almost half of the surveys responders said they didn’t consult a physician for several months, despite the many ways that pain interrupted their lives. And indeed, pain impacts nearly all facets of life: in addition to the discomfort it poses, chronic pain can also limit daily activities and productivity and can impact self-esteem and satisfaction.

    In addition to certain lifestyle changes and exercise regimens physicians may prescribe, medication is an important part of managing chronic pain. The potential of drugs that target PKG is great, and they represent a huge breakthrough. Despite the $50 billion dollar painkiller market, side effects like drowsiness and dependency of certain classes of existing drugs leave chronic pain patients with few long-term remedies.

    The realization that we can approach chronic pain in a new way, one that just might result in more effective treatment, is encouraging news for the millions of people who suffer every day.

    Last updated: 21-Nov-06


  • Add Comment
    Interact on Medtech1

    Discuss this topic with others.
    Feature Archives

    Web Technology to Offer Further Mental Health Support

    Sweat Powers Tattoo Biobatteries While You Exercise

    Activity Trackers Could be Beneficial for Older Adults

    Diseases Diagnosed by 'Smart' Holograms

    Fruit flies make good stand-ins for humans in diabetes treatment tests

    Next 5 Features ...

    More Features ...
    Home About Us Press Jobs Advertise With Us Contact Us
    © 2020 Body1 All rights reserved.
    Disclaimer: The information provided within this website is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for consultation with your physician or healthcare provider. The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the Owners and Sponsors of this site. By using this site you agree to indemnify, and hold the Owners and Sponsors harmless, from any disputes arising from content posted here-in.