At Holistic Pain we take time to look into the latest pain news including research, as well as effects of and advancements in treatment so we can better serve you. The study of acute and chronic pain is a never ending subject and healthcare workers are always incorporating new ideas into their treatment plans to ensure that patients get the best care possible.

Several recent studies have shed light on medical issues that may be able to help improve the quality of care and recovery for patients dealing with certain conditions and increase the efficacy of their treatments.

Calcium and pain receptors

In September of this year researchers at Duke University discovered a surprising correlation between the sensation of pain and calcium. When an individual is met with painful stimuli, such as touching a hot stove, the example used in the study, their brain sends messages to the body in the form of pain.

With the case of the hot stove, this painful reaction is designed to convince the individual to stop the pain-causing behavior immediately. Humans possess molecules called TRP ion channels that play an important role in the body’s processing of painful stimuli. By studying similar channels in worms with mutations to see how they reacted to changes in their biology, researchers were able to see how this affected pain in the cellular level. They learned that these changes affected the way calcium was absorbed by these channels. Researchers believe that understanding this structure and how it works in regards to painful stimuli could lead to better ways of treating both acute and chronic pain.

From researcher Dr. Wolfgang Liedtke:

“We assume, and so far the evidence is quite good, that chronic, pathological pain has to do with people’s genetic switches in their sensory system set in the wrong way, long term. That’s something our new worm model will now allow us to approach rationally by experimentation.”

The pain news has led to the computer modeling of the calcium ion channel in the worm’s pain receptor that will help further our understanding of similar pathways in humans.

Irritable bowel syndrome and pain news

Another study in August conducted by the University of Adelaide in Australia added to our current medical knowledge surrounding pain treatments for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 10% of the population struggles with IBS. This condition is now believed to cause defects in patients’ natural immune system as well as long-term pain. Researchers believe that this defective immune system is the reason why patients do not experience a reduction in pain when using typical pain relieving medications. Their study compared the immune systems of healthy individuals to those of IBS sufferers to get a better understanding of how the disease affects pain reception and relief. Abdominal pain is generally the biggest barrier to a normal life for individuals dealing with IBS and without the proper relief, achieving normalcy can be very difficult if not impossible.

From lead author Dr. Patrick Hughes:

“The gut contains specialised immune cells, known as monocytes and macrophages. Our research has shown that in healthy people, these immune cells normally secrete opioid chemicals, like morphine, that block pain. But in people with IBS, the opioid production by these cells is defective.”

The identification of the problem is the first step to determining a solution. While doctors still don’t know the exact cause of pain resulting from IBS they now understand a faulty immune system is the key factor in the inability to properly suppress the symptoms. This is the first step toward developing a long-term treatment strategy for patients living with IBS.

Lack of sleep bad for recovery

In Detroit, Michigan, the Henry Ford Health System conducted a study to see how sleep affected recovery in patients who had undergone certain surgical treatments. When patients experienced pain after the procedure, they were unable to get the proper amount of sleep which resulted in longer hospital stays and recovery times. The study followed patients recovering from common joint replacement procedures. Patients who reported poor sleep during recovery also registered higher pain scores. This has led the researchers to believe that better pain management during recovery could lead to better sleep and shorter hospital stays.

The study of 50 patients receiving total knee or hip replacements took place on a special floor of the hospital where quiet time is observed. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. the hospital floor closes doors and dims the lights to help encourage patients to rest. Because of this policy, they were better able to observe whether or not patients were unable to sleep due to pain rather than sleep disruption due to continuous distractions within the hospital. They evaluated the duration of sleep, the quality of sleep, the pain medications used, and the pain scores of each patient.

From Dr. Anya Miller:

“If we can identify factors that cause disruption in patients’ sleep such as pain, noise and interruptions in the hospital setting we can help improve sleep quality and potentially decrease adverse outcomes.”

The results of the study showed that patients with significantly decreased sleep quality would wake up more frequently during the night. When they had experienced a poor nights’ sleep they reported higher pain scores. Better pain management helped improve the quality and duration of sleep for these patients. It is believed that this would decrease the length of the hospital stay and, ultimately, the recovery time for patients after in-patient procedures.

What does this pain news mean for you?

Holistic treatments focus on not only the physical control of symptoms but a full person approach treating the mind, body, and spirit of every patient. However, we understand that to do implement a holistic plan, doctors need to understand current medical science and pain news and incorporate it into the treatment of pain patients to encourage whole body healing and pain management. Studies that show how calcium can affect pain receptors, the connection between IBS and the immune system, and the way that proper sleep influences healing are all important aspects of wellness that doctors can learn from and use to help pain patients feel better.

What questions do you have about recent pain news?

Image by Zechariah Judy via Flickr


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