Chronic Pain

Immersive virtual reality boosts the effectiveness of spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain

For patients receiving spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for chronic pain, integration with an immersive virtual reality (VR) system – allowing patients to see as well as feel the effects of electrical stimulation on a virtual image of their own body – can enhance the pain-relieving effectiveness of SCS, reports a study in PAIN®, the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

Reducing Drinking Among US Veterans with Unhealthy Alcohol Use Might Improve Chronic Pain Symptoms and Reduce Other Substance Use

US veterans with unhealthy alcohol use who reduce their drinking may gain some improvement in chronic pain symptoms and use of other substances, according to a study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Hazardous drinking is common in the US, and frequently co-occurs with chronic pain, depression and anxiety, and with tobacco, cannabis or cocaine use. Many people use alcohol and other substances to mask or self-manage pain and psychiatric symptoms, although there is little evidence to support such use. If, conversely, a reduction in drinking (or use of treatment for alcohol misuse) were to benefit co-occurring conditions or substance use, this could support an integrated approach to screening or treatment. The new analysis assessed the impact of drinking reduction on improvement of chronic pain, psychiatric symptoms, and other substance use among US veterans with unhealthy alcohol use – a population with high rates of these co-occurring conditions.

NYU College of Dentistry Awarded NIH Grant to Investigate Endosomal Receptors as Targets for Chronic Pain Treatment

The NIH has awarded NYU College of Dentistry researchers Nigel Bunnett, PhD, and Brian Schmidt, DDS, MD, PhD, a $3.9 million grant to study targeting endosomal receptors for the treatment of chronic pain. The five-year grant will support Bunnett and Schmidt’s collaborative research, which aims to ultimately yield improved pain management without the need for opioids.

New Recommendations Steer Doctors Away from Opioids to Treat Pain in Adolescent Athletes

Athletes commonly experience pain in practice and competition. Inadequate or inappropriate pain management in adolescent athletes can lead to a lifetime of consequences including increased risk of opioid misuse. A team physician consensus statement just released by ACSM and 5 other sports medicine organizations shares guidelines to identify and manage pain in athletes ages 10 to 18.

A sound treatment

University of Utah biomedical engineering assistant professor Jan Kubanek has discovered that sound waves of high frequency (ultrasound) can be emitted into a patient’s brain to alter his or her state. It’s a non-invasive treatment that doesn’t involve medications or surgery and has a unique potential to treat mental disorders including depression and anxiety and neurological disorders such as chronic pain and epilepsy.

ASRA Recognizes Eight Trailblazers as Part of the Year of Women in ASRA

Eight trailblazing women in regional anesthesia and pain medicine are being honored for their achievements and contributions to the field as part of the ASRA Trailblazer Awards. Created to acknowledge potential for bias in the past, the program is part of the “Year of Women in ASRA,” so named by ASRA President Dr. Eugene Viscusi. Other components of the campaign include year-round highlights of prominent women in the field on the ASRA website and social media channels, greater recognition of gender disparities at meetings, improved data collection to continue to assess our progress representing the field, and, most importantly, development of an organizational plan to identify and correct disparities across all minority groups.

‘Brain Surfing’: Ultrasound waves focused on prefrontal cortex elevate mood and change brain connectivity in human volunteers

A team of researchers at the University of Arizona has found that low-intensity ultrasound waves directed at a particular region of the brain’s prefrontal cortex in healthy subjects can elevate mood, and decrease connectivity in a brain network that has been shown to be hyperactive in psychiatric disorders. The method uses transcranial focused ultrasound (‘tFUS’), a painless, non-invasive technique to modulate brain function comparable to transcranial magnetic stimulation (‘TMS’), and transcranial direct current stimulation (‘tDCS’). This study shows, for the first time, a correlation between tFUS-induced mood enhancement, and reorganization of brain circuits.

Recognize an overdose, save a life

Every day nearly 200 people die from an overdose of drugs or from alcohol poisoning, with opioids responsible for the majority. Recognizing the signs and knowing how to respond to medical emergencies, including carrying and administering naloxone in cases of opioid overdose, can save lives says the ASA.

Tulane team researching ways to end opioid addiction

A Tulane University researcher is part of a nationwide initiative to improve treatment of chronic pain and ultimately achieve long-term recovery from opioid addiction.

Michael J. Moore, professor of biomedical engineering in the Tulane School of Science and Engineering, is part of a $945 million National Institutes of Health project called the HEAL Initiative, or Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative.