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Acute & Chronic Pain

A new study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has found, for the first time, evidence of neuroinflammation in key regions of the brains of patients with chronic pain. By showing that levels of an inflammation-linked protein are elevated in regions known to be involved in the transmission of pain, the study published online in the journal Brain paves the way for the exploration of potential new treatment strategies and identifies a possible way around one of the most frustrating limitations in the study and treatment of chronic pain - the lack of an objective way to measure the presence or intensity of pain.

Quell, a new electrical-stimulation device designed to help alleviate chronic pain, gets wrapped around the wearer’s calf. Quell works through neurostimulation, delivering precisely controlled, low-level electrical stimulation to patients suffering from chronic pain due to diabetic neuropathy, sciatica, fibromyalgia and other ailments. The electrical signal travels up the central nervous system to the brain, releasing opioids that tame pain.

Pain is a leading cause of disability in the US, affecting more Americans than cancer, diabetes and heart disease combined. But in a new study, researchers say they have discovered an "off switch" for pain, paving the way for new treatments. By activating the A3 receptor in the brain with a small adenosine molecule, researchers say they could prevent or reverse chronic pain. The research team, led by Daniela Salvemini, professor of pharmacological and physiological sciences at Saint Louis University, MO, publish their findings in the journal Brain.