Dr. Jose De Andres to Present the 2022 John J. Bonica Lecture at the 21st Annual Pain Medicine Meeting

ASRA Pain Medicine has selected Jose De Andres, MD, PhD, FIPP, EDRA, EDPM, to receive the 2022 John J. Bonica Award. The honor recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding contributions to the development, teaching, and practice of pain medicine in the tradition of John J. Bonica, MD, the pioneering anesthesiologist regarded as the founding father of pain relief medicine.

Drinking to Manage Physical Pain Results in Perceived Relief, Increasing Vulnerability to Dangerous Alcohol Use

People who self-medicate pain with alcohol may be vulnerable to hazardous drinking, with their experience of pain relief a potentially powerful driver of alcohol consumption, a new study suggests. Both pain and dangerous alcohol use are major public health issues. Each affects millions of US adults and costs hundreds of billions of dollars annually in health care and lost productivity. Recent studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between pain and alcohol use; people with chronic pain are more likely than others to report heavy drinking, and those with alcohol use disorder (AUD) are more likely to report chronic pain. Alcohol has known analgesic effects. Evidence of shared neural mechanisms underlying chronic pain and substance misuse suggest alcohol’s pain-relieving capacity might be influenced by individuals’ experience of chronic pain. Better understanding the relationship between chronic pain and alcohol use could inform improved prevention and treatment approaches. For the

Online Chair Yoga Viable Exercise for Isolated Older Adults with Dementia

Researchers evaluated a remotely supervised online chair yoga intervention targeted at older adults with dementia and measured clinical outcomes virtually via Zoom under the remote guidance. Results showed that remotely supervised online chair yoga is a feasible approach for managing physical and psychological symptoms in socially isolated older adults with dementia based on retention (70 percent) and adherence (87.5 percent), with no injury or other adverse events.

Scientists develop blueprint for turning stem cells into sensory interneurons

Key takeaways:
• Just like the real thing. The stem cell–derived interneurons, which play a role in sensations like touch and pain, are indistinguishable from their real-life counterparts in the body.
• Tomorrow’s therapies. In addition to potential treatments for injury-related sensation loss, the discovery could lead to new methods for screening drugs for chronic pain.
• Moving forward. While stem cells from mice were used in the research, scientists are now working to replicate the findings with human cells.

AI Could Predict Ideal Chronic Pain Patients for Spinal Cord Stimulation

Spinal cord stimulation is a minimally invasive FDA-approved treatment to manage chronic pain such as back and neck pain. The ability to accurately predict which patients will benefit from this treatment in the long term is unclear and currently relies on the subjective experience of the implanting physician. A study is the first to use machine-learning algorithms in the neuromodulation field to predict long-term patient response to spinal cord stimulation.

Protocol Based on Questionnaires and a Mental Health Checklist Can Replace In-Person Psychological Assessment Before Neuromodulation Therapies

Researchers at Toronto Western Hospital in Canada have proposed a protocol for patients undergoing neuromodulation implantation that incorporates a short mental health checklist and pre-defined cut-offs on validated questionnaires to assess the need for an in-person assessment by a psychologist.

Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury: M.O.M. to the Rescue

The M.O.M. project, which will have four units in Ohio, Florida, South Carolina and Texas, will engage veterans with traumatic brain injury, their caregivers and other stakeholders to bolster patient-centered outcomes research and comparative effectiveness research in order to identify treatment options for traumatic brain injury that are effective, acceptable, and meaningful to the veteran population.

NIH Awards Grant to Study Combination Treatment for Pain to Wake Forest School of Medicine

Chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP) – daily pain in the muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and nerves that lasts for six months or longer – contributes to approximately 21% of worker disability issues in this country and costs $500 billion annually from lost wages, treatment and medications, according to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University.
In an effort to develop a more effective strategy against this debilitating condition, a team of doctors and researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine has received a four-year grant of approximately $4 million from the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Oscar de Leon-Casasola Named 2021 John J. Bonica Awardee, Will Present Lecture at ASRA’s 20th Annual Pain Medicine Meeting

Oscar de Leon-Casasola, MD, has been selected to receive the 2021 John J. Bonica Award. The honor recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding contributions to the development, teaching and practice of pain medicine in the tradition of John J. Bonica, MD, the pioneering anesthesiologist regarded as the “founding father of pain relief medicine.”

Weather can affect pain tolerance, reports study in PAIN®

Can the weather affect pain from conditions like arthritis or migraine? It may sound like an old superstition – but on some standard quantitative sensory tests, weather-related factors do indeed affect pain tolerance, suggests 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.

Research News Tip Sheet: Story Ideas from Johns Hopkins Medicine

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Johns Hopkins Medicine Media Relations is focused on disseminating current, accurate and useful information to the public via the media. As part of that effort, we are distributing our “COVID-19 Tip Sheet: Story Ideas from Johns Hopkins” every other Wednesday.

With gene therapy, scientists develop opioid-free solution for chronic pain

A gene therapy for chronic pain could offer a safer, non-addictive alternative to opioids. Researchers at the University of California San Diego developed the new therapy, which works by temporarily repressing a gene involved in sensing pain. It increased pain tolerance in mice, lowered their sensitivity to pain and provided months of pain relief without causing numbness.

Digital solutions including remote monitoring can help chronic pain sufferers manage their pain and reduce the probability of misuse of prescription opioids.

For the first time, an app has been shown to reduce key symptoms of chronic pain. A UNH-led study evaluated the impact of Manage My Pain(MMP), a digital health solution on chronic pain patients.

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.

Neuromonitoring Enables Patients to Sleep through Spinal Cord Stimulator Placement

Neuromonitoring has been used in the fields of neurological and orthopedic surgery for years but has just recently made its debut in SCS implantation. There are limited studies observing neuromonitoring in this application, so doctors have shared the case study of a patient who successfully underwent the procedure and reported 90% pain reduction one week later.

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.

Weizmann Institute Scientists Find that Targeting a Chronic Pain Gateway Could Bring Relief

A study led by Prof. Mike Fainzilber identifies a potential new approach to treating chronic pain: targeting an importin molecule that moves pain messages into nerve cell nuclei. The team can now “conduct screens for new and better drug molecules that can precisely target this chain of events in the sensory neurons.”

Medical Cannabis put to the test in first ever real-world evidence clinical trial led by UHN

Medical cannabis is finally being put under the microscope, in a first-of-its-kind real world evidence study led by Dr. Hance Clarke, Toronto General Hospital. In the Medical Cannabis Real-World Evidence trial patients using the online portal created by Medical Cannabis by Shoppers, will know exactly what is in their product and its effectiveness.

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.