Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Strong feelings – latest findings on pain sensitivity

29.08.2006
The recent discovery of the amplification of even low levels of pain has prompted the organisation of an upcoming symposium in Vienna on "Risk Assessment in Pain Therapy". This international expert meeting will aim to optimise pain therapy by taking account of this previously unknown phenomenon. As a result the findings of an Austrian Science Fund FWF project, which were recently published in SCIENCE, may soon be benefiting patients who suffering severe chronic pain.

Constant pain can really get on your nerves – literally! The phenomenon of pain sensitivity enhancement is responsible for this. In the case of persistent pain impulses, it brings about permanent changes in the neurons responsible for transmitting the pain signals. This leads to an increase in pain sensitivity and the sensation of pain can even persist long after the actual pain signals has faded out.

Strong and Weak

Pain sensitivity enhancement is a feature of both weak and strong pain, but the model used to explain how this phenomenon arises is based solely on the testing of strong pain impulses. In reality, though, low level pain does not give rise to all of the neural processes which are postulated by the previous explanatory model.

Now, a team under Prof. Jürgen Sandkühler of the Department of Neurophysiology at the Medical University of Vienna has published findings in the June 2006 edition of SCIENCE which explain the existence of pain amplification even at low levels of pain. Commenting on the research, Prof. Sandkühler said: "We were able to show in a controlled laboratory system that the amplification arises even when the pain is quite weak. We actually used electrical impulses that were 50 times weaker than those previously employed to induce this response. Weak pain signals like these are symptomatic of the healing of wounds and of inflammation."

Prof. Sandkühler's group was also able to identify the cells responsible for this previously unknown phenomenon. They are located in the lamina I of the spinal dorsal horn, and ensure that signals from peripheral pain fibres are transmitted to spinal nerve tracts leading to the brain.

Illuminating Evidence

As part of this large-scale project, Sandkühler and his team were also able to indicate which cellular mechanism is behind low-level pain enhancement. Cells were loaded with dyes which emit light when exposed to sufficient concentrations of calcium ions. This made it possible to show that the concentration of calcium ions in these lamina I cells also increases dramatically in response to weak pain impulses. This is one of a multitude of cases in which calcium ions are involved in cellular signal transmissions. Here, the calcium ions activate enzymes which amplify the pain impulses.

These new findings are of fundamental importance for pain therapy. As Sandkühler put it: "Treating patients with pain killers for a short period of time after an operation, for example, is not an effective means of avoiding pain enhancement. Pain therapy must be continued without interruption until the pain has largely subsided."

In order that these recommendations may be implemented quickly, Prof. Sandkühler is playing a part in organising an expert meeting on the topic. The "Risk Assessment in Pain Therapy" symposium will take place on 10th November 2006, with the aim of evaluating the opportunities and risks of current therapeutic procedures in the light of these new findings. In cooperation with IGOST (the Interdisciplinary Society for Orthopaedic Pain Therapy), Sandkühler has succeeded in attracting representatives of DGSS (the German Society for the Study of Pain), ÖSG (the Austrian Pain Society) and internationally renowned pain researchers to this event in Vienna. This should mean that the findings of this FWF project can soon feed through into specific recommendations for clinical therapy.

Till C. Jelitto | alfa
Further information:
http://www.fwf.ac.at/en/public_relations/press/pv200608-en.html
http://www.prd.at

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Routing gene therapy directly into the brain
07.12.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

nachricht New Hope for Cancer Therapies: Targeted Monitoring may help Improve Tumor Treatment
01.12.2017 | Berliner Institut für Gesundheitsforschung / Berlin Institute of Health (BIH)

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

12.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents

12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>