Recent studies by McGill University in Canada show that chronic pain may change how DNA is activated in the brain. These changes may continue months after the initial pain-inducing injury. These DNA changes, called epigenetic changes, can also be a result of changes in environmental conditions, such as stress, diet, exposure to contaminants, and poverty.Genetic causes for diseases are thought to be inherited and unable to be altered, but epigenetic causes are different in that they come as a result of how genes are activated/inactivated. As a result, there are some theories that suggest that epigenetic diseases can potentially be altered or reversed.
McGill researchers examined this theory and discovered a biological mechanism that encodes the memory of an injury into the DNA, by use of a chemical coating called DNA methylation. In cases of chronic pain, by changing or reversing the process of DNA methylation, the symptoms of chronic pain may be reversed. This study is the first to link chronic pain to epigenetic changes in the brain. This study could change the way that chronic pain is diagnosed, treated, and eliminated. Pilot studies surrounding altering DNA methylation in labratory mice have found that chronic pain directly corresponds to the amount of DNA methylation in certain regions of the brain.
Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer serving Blair and the seven surrounding counties in central Pennsylvania. He takes cases for clients who are experiencing chronic pain as the result of an injury due to the fault of another. For more information on his Altoona, PA area firm, please call his office at 814-946-4100 or visit his website at http://www.stoehrlaw.com.