Finding the Hurt in Pain
Pain is unique to every person, and difficult to quantify and treat. Our author examines how brain imaging is opening our eyes to the richness and complexity of the pain experience, giving us extraordinary insight into the neurochemistry, network activity, wiring, and structures relevant to producing and modulating painful experiences in all their various guises.
The Patterns of Pain Relief
Using a data-mining method and fMRI results from eight separate clinical trials testing pain medicines, Oxford researchers find evidence of consistent patterns of brain activity. Such a definite pattern might be used before human trials to choose which new drug to test, or after, to see if it is working in a particular patient.
A Future Without Chronic PainNeuroscience and Clinical Research
Chronic pain affects 1.5 billion people worldwide, an estimated 100 million of whom live in the United States. Yet we currently have no effective treatment options. Fortunately, research advances have determined some of the ways in which chronic pain changes the brain, and several promising research areas could lead to better treatment approaches. Dr. David Borsook recommends steps to facilitate these new treatments, including the establishment of integrated clinical neuroscience centers bridging the gap between bench and bedside.
Why Not a National Institute on Pain Research?
Today, patients who once would have lived in chronic pain or died in agony can be helped because research has debunked many myths about our most potent pain medication: opioids. Even long-term treatment with opioids seldom leads to addiction, and research has taught us much about how opioids act in the brain. Now, research is opening entirely new avenues for pain relief. But a pioneer in pain research and treatment warns that future progress requires much greater public understanding and more informed government regulation.