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10 Innovative advances in pain management

M3 India newsdesk May 10, 2017

With increase in the prevalence of chronic pain, the necessity for the effective treatment modalities is of paramount significance. Despite facing hurdles in transformation of anti-nociceptive efficacy from animal models to humans, the researchers are in the process of expanding the potential targets for pain relief.




New investigations of treatment approaches continue to grow upon the basis of successful earlier treatments. The researchers remain hopeful in the development of sophisticated methods and novel drug targets for pain relief in the near future despite the challenges on the road of discovering new therapies. This article will help explore some of the recent breakthroughs developed to manage pain.


1. Not Only For Wrinkles – Botox for Treating Neuropathic Pain


Although there are several studies which have proved that botulinum toxin has analgesic effects, the studies were so small to make a firm conclusion. A recent clinical study which includes large population revealed that repeated administration of botulinum toxin-A resulted in significant neuropathic pain relief. Also, the study found that the patients with severe allodynia have long-lasting relief. Despite the toxin provides effective outcomes, the administration of the toxin is painful. Therefore, discovery of new delivery techniques would enhance the effective use of botulinum toxin-A.


2. Go Green to Ease Pain


A new trial found that exposure to green light may help alleviate pain. The study proved green light to be effective in treating pain using animal models. However, this preclinical trial would support further exploration of the different light spectra that alleviate pain in patients with chronic neuropathic pain. This trial determined that green light shown its effect through visual system and stimulated the release of opioids in the central nervous system resulting pain relief. There is requirement of further study on molecular underpinning of this effect so as to extend its use for treating chronic pain in humans.


3. A Small Molecule Thwarts Worsening of Pain


A novel study identified that inhibition of stomatin-like protein-3 (STOML-3) can help relieve pain in tactile allodynia. The study determined that these protein inhibitors silenced the effect of mechanoreceptors in the animal models. In certain cases such as nerve injury or diabetic neuropathy, a slight touch can produce pain. The investigators found that STOML-3 inhibitors attenuate fine touch perception by reversing mechanical hypersensitivity. Scientists are a big step closer to discover the treatment for tactile-driven pain with the application of the small molecules locally to the skin.


4. Medical Marijuana Can Be A Game Changer In Treating Chronic Pain


A study found that cannabis can be a novel avenue used for treating chronic pain while minimizing the chances of addiction. Researchers determined that the cannabinoids when bound to body’s receptors called endocannabinoids, it produces analgesic effects with fewer side effects than opioids. The scientists are in their way to develop new class of drugs by exploring the effect of cannabis in the brain and relieving pain.


5. A novel approach to tackle migraine in children


A new approach called sphenopalantine ganglion block that reverses the headache pathway will help relieve pain in children with frequent migraine attacks. Sphenopalantine ganglion located at the back of the nose is thought to be associated with migraines. This minimally invasive way disables the ganglion and disrupts the headache pathway breaking the cycle of frequent migraines. During the procedure, a small flexible catheter is inserted into the each naris and local anesthesia is administered. The procedure exhibits immediate effect and can be recommended only for the children who do not respond to the first-line treatment.   


6. Smart Patch for Migraine Headache


A recent clinical trial suggests that a wireless patch placed on the arm may help relieve migraine pain. Opting for this approach of non-drug treatment may help ease migraine in a simpler way. The patch consists of rubber electrodes and a chip on an armband and is controlled by a smartphone application. The device works by using the electrical stimulation that blocks the nerve signals from reaching the brain. Although the researchers found the device to be effective, there is a requirement for further studies to determine its safety.


7. Stress Protein Blockade Might Relieve Pain


While developing a new class of drugs to treat mood disorder, scientists discovered that these drugs also relieve chronic pain. The study revealed that a protein which shapes in response to stress also accounts for chronic pain. Thus, the research paved a way to discover novel targets for managing pain in the future. In the study, the scientists tested a compound that blocks stress protein and found that it has a powerful effect in relieving pain.


8. Novel Approach for Treating Osteoarthritis Knee Pain


Researchers identified that radiofrequency ablation of genicular nerve guided by ultrasound shows promise in treating the painful knee osteoarthritis. There are several studies in which genicular nerve injections has been administered with fluoroscopic guidance. The current study is the novel approach where the ultrasound is used for ablation of genicular nerve. The study found that this way of suppressing pain is beneficial and also proved to be safe in patients with painful knee osteoarthritis.


9. Multimodal drug cocktail for postoperative pain


Multimodal drug therapy shows a promise in treating post-operative pain in patients undergone total knee arthroplasty. Despite the advantage of total knee arthroplasty in improving overall function, many patients are reluctant to prefer the surgery as it causes severe postsurgical pain. A new clinical trial discovered that a multimodal cocktail drug would help those patients to relieve from postoperative pain and also reduces the consumption of other analgesics. Also, the cocktail injection facilitates the early rehabilitation.


10. Safer opioid for treating pain that curbs addiction


Researchers identified a novel opioid drug that helps relieving pain without triggering the severe side effects associated with traditional opioids. In the study, the researchers used morphine by tweaking its structure so as to get rid of the dangerous side effects. The drug has proven to be safe in animal models and has the ability to block pain effectively. Experts say that this study would be the breakthrough in treating pain more effectively than typical opioids. 


Apart from drugs to treat pain, the technological advances are being used extensively for pain management. Experts believe that treatment approach of pain will improve only when the patients are aware of wide range of treatment modalities designed for promoting physiological and psychological function.





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