Our Pain Management Blog

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New Test Catches Arthritis Before Symptomatic

Arthritis, when allowed to progress, can equate to many days and nights of nearly unbearable pain. It can also cost a person huge sums of money throughout their lifetime, as they combat its progressive and attempt to fight the discomfort. There are more than twenty-seven million people who know that sort of pain as the result of osteoarthritis.

Until recently, there was no reliable way for doctors to diagnose the arthritis before the symptoms started to show – including joint pain and stiffness. At that point, in many cases, it is too late to practice preventative medicine. Fortunately, for many who are likely to see a diagnosis of arthritis in the future, a research team from the University of Missouri’s Comparative Orthopaedic Lab has found a new method of detection. This new test relies on the use of specific biomarkers, which are able to accurately determine if the patient is going to develop the condition.

Not only is this test useful for patients and doctors who hope to stave off the symptoms of arthritis, it can also help to determine how severe the condition will be for those who receive a diagnosis and which pain management procedures would help best. Given all of this, one might think that a lot of fluid would be required, but the team discovered that it required only a drop of the fluid from a thin needle inserted into the patient’s joint. It also provides scientists and doctors the ability to study the condition in its earliest stages.

This test was developed with the help of aging dogs, as it is figured that twenty-percent of middle-aged dogs and ninety percent of older canines are directly impacted by osteoarthritis. Thus, it was easy to adapt the test for use on humans afterward.

For more information, continue reading the full article.

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Are Fruit Flies the Key to Curing Chronic Pain?

It was recently reported in a journal called Nature that scientists have made a tremendous discovery in a species of fruit flies.

While this might not seem a momentous piece of information, for the average person living with chronic pain it could be just that. It was found that a protein existing in both humans and flies can be produced is different variations by the flying species in order to serve different purposes.

For flies the protein, known as TRPA1, is used to sense heat in the first variation, and used to recognize toxic chemicals in the second. The same protein is produced in humans, but is used for a different purpose all together. In people, TRPA1 is a protein used by the body to control pain and inflammation.

While this discovery will first be used in the field of biology for creating methods of keep pesky, disease carrying insects away from their intended human targets and attracting them, instead, to traps, the more that is learned about the protein, the more hope there is for pain sufferers.

Scientists believe that the right use of the version one of the TRPA1 protein could make insects believe that humans are toxic, thereby keeping them at bay, while the second variation could be used to entice them into traps.

As for the pain sufferers, there are a lot of questions left to be answered, but the similarities between mankind and the tiny winged animal could mean quicker, cost-effective, and meaningful solutions to questions that millions seek answers to. At Interventional Pain Associates, we continue to stay “in the know” regarding the latest medical research and technological advancements so we can care for our patients with the best treatments available for their chronic pain conditions at our clinic.

You can read more about the research on fruit flies and the pertinent findings here.

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Scientists Working on Spinal Implants for Back Pain Sufferers

With millions of people reporting to doctor’s offices each year and billions of dollars being spent to ease the effects of ‘bad backs’, there is little wonder why scientists have placed so much emphasis on finding new and groundbreaking solutions.

The team led by Lawrence Bonassar, Ph.D. from Cornell University is no exception. However, this team may have just succeeded at creating something truly miraculous.

Bonassar and his team have developed artificial discs that could potential replace the bulging, ruptured, or otherwise damaged discs existing in a large percentage of chronic pain patients. The discs were engineered and tested in animals with great success and the hope is that this same procedure could prove useful for the millions who have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease or herniated discs.

Today, surgeons must rely on the practice of discectomy, whereby they remove the damaged disc and fuse the nearby vertebrae. Though effective, the surgery frequently leaves patients are often left with continued discomfort. Even if the pain is fully eliminated, the surgery can reduce mobility, making it a difficult decision for a person with an active lifestyle. Certain types of back surgery have a greater risk of resulting in failed back surgery syndrome, a condition we frequently treat at our clinic in Austin.

Using hydrogel and collagen, Bonassar’s team engineered discs that function in the same way that the natural discs would. By seeding the implants, they were able to encourage new tissue growth, which was actually seen to improve the spinal structure over time, as opposed to the implant experiencing degradation. Unlike other implants, these do not have the same risks of moving around in the body or depositing particles elsewhere from wear and tear.

This discovery holds great hope for a large population with back pain and possibly reduce the number of failed back surgery syndrome suffers. If you are interested in learning more about it, keep reading here

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Why Painkillers May Not Work For You

If you are like millions of Americans, then you may know what it is like to be let down by painkillers. So many people suffer with lasting pain and cannot find comfort in the form of a pill because of the unfavorable side effects of the drugs inability to truly treat the symptom.

At the University of Leeds, a team was assembled by Dr. Nikita Gamper, who understood the concerns of the medical community and pain patients everywhere. It was admitted by the team that it is not as easy to get the funding for pain-related studies today. Though the general path of pain is fairly well understood, there are many details of the process that remain a mystery. As a result, the ability for researchers to discover a noteworthy medication is limited. There is no doubt that there have been a number of failings in the effort to produce an effective treatment.

So, Gamper’s team set out to investigate the difference between persistent pain, such as toothache, and pain resulting from increased sensitivity of nerves. The results, which were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrated that the same nerves are at play in either situation. The difference lies in the underlying mechanisms.

Gamper’s team discovered that there were two substances that came into play – bradykinin and substance P – which bind to the nerves causing a message to be sent to CNS. Each of the substances caused a unique message to be sent. It was theorized, after this study, that substance P could actually act as a pain suppressant, by changing the action taken by the nerves.

This certainly isn’t the answer that pain sufferers are longing for, but it could point this area of research in the right direction. If you want to learn more about the findings, continue reading here. At Interventional Pain Associates, we continue to stay updated on the latest research findings and treatments to serve our patients the best we can at our clinic in Austin.