New Treatment Could Ease Chronic Pain
Researchers may have developed a therapy that could provide a new approach to treating chronic pain, according to a study published in Nature Neuroscience.
The new treatment strategy combines two already FDA-approved drugs to target brain circuits in chronic pain patients. So far it’s only been proven to be successful in rodents, but the researchers are pursuing a clinical trial to test it in humans.
The two drugs combined to make the therapy are L-dopa, a Parkinson’s drug, and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Together, these drugs work on brain circuits in the nucleus accumbens, preventing the neural process that leads to chronic pain.
Past research has shown that the brain changes in chronic pain patients to the point where pain signals can be transmitted even if there is no injury, or they can persist long after an injury has healed.
Perhaps the most interesting finding of the study at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine was the notion that chronic pain can be seen “as the brain getting addicted to pain.”
Researchers said the brain circuit that has to do with addiction gets involved in the pain process itself, suggesting that chronic pain cannot be viewed as a purely sensory phenomenon, but one that also is closely related to emotions.
Chronic pain affects an estimated 3 million people in the U.S.
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