A new way to provide pain relief without side effects

Credit: Agata Garpenlind

In a new study from Lund University, researchers developed a completely new stimulation method, using ultra-thin microelectrodes, to combat severe pain.

This provides effective and personalized pain relief without the common side effects of pain relief drugs.

The lack of a side-effect-free treatment for long-term pain often considerably impairs the quality of life of the patients affected. Without analgesic treatment, persistent pain makes it difficult for the patient to function in everyday life.

Traditional pain-relieving treatment certainly reduces the pain, but at the same time affects the senses and mental function, and there is a considerable risk of developing a drug addiction.

Pain also entails a considerable cost for society in the form of sick leave, healthcare costs and lost production. According to a recent American report, about eight percent of the American population suffer from high-impact chronic pain.

In the study, the team developed a method to combat pain via personalized stimulation using ultra-thin, tissue-friendly microelectrodes.

The electrodes are very soft and extremely gentle on the brain. They are used to specifically activate the brain’s pain control centers without simultaneously activating the nerve cell circuits that produce side effects.

The method involves implanting a cluster of the ultra-thin electrodes and then selecting a sub-group of the electrodes that provide pure pain relief, but no side effects.

This procedure enables extremely precise and personalized stimulation treatment that was shown to work for every individual.

The pain is blocked by activating the brain’s pain control centers, and these in turn block only the signal transfer in the pain pathways to the cerebral cortex.

The results show that it is actually possible to develop powerful and side effect-free pain relief, something that has been a major challenge up to now.

According to the researchers, the new technique should work on all sorts of pain that are conveyed by the spinal cord, i.e. most types of pain.

If you care about chronic pain, please read studies about common painkiller may harm your immune system, damage heart and kidneys and findings of these pain relievers may harm your body weight and sleep.

For more information about pain management, please see recent studies about this common painkiller may help fight cancer and results showing that this new painkiller may speed up recovery with fewer side effects.

The study is published in Science Advances. One author of the study is Jens Schouenborg.

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