Thursday, March 8, 2012

Strange But True: Chronic Pain Researchers Discover "Erasing" Chemical

Occasionally while investigating a research problem, scientists stumble upon something that they did not expect.  Researchers studying the pathways and treatment of chronic pain had that experience recently.  While studying the genes involved in chronic pain, the scientists discovered a chemical that can erase "memories".  Neuroscientists at McGill University claim that the chemical, with the  acronym ZIP, can selectively wipe out the nervous system’s “memory” of chronic pain while still leaving other memories intact.

This chemical may work because pain that lasts more than a few minutes, leaving a permanent memory trace (which is the reasoning behind phantom limb syndrome).  To begin experiments with ZIP, the scientists injected the chemical into the spinal area of rats.  This successfully wiped out pain memories in their hind paws that had become tender and very sensitive from the use of capsacin, the burning chemical in hot peppers.  Although this chemical is in the very early stages of development and may not possibly become a drug for many years, its future is bright and many result in chronic pain relief for thousands of patients.

Chronic pain is a tricky diagnosis in terms of finding the right medication combination that will work, but will not lead to overmedication.  Working with your physician and seeing what is right for you is the only way to find an effective, realistic pain management treatment.  If you would like more information about this page or central Pennsylvania attorney Doug Stoehr's areas of practice, contact our Altoona, Pennsylvania, law firm by calling 814-946-4100. 

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