There has been a new way to cope with chronic pain. If you or someone you care for are suffering from related injuries, keep yourself posted with recent studies.
Chronic pain is something nobody wants since it annoys you for a lifetime. Many efforts made are to halt this type of post-disease symptoms, but no concrete results yet. However, UNC School of medicine’s new study has to shed a hoping light for curing chronic pain using brain stimulation.
It’s such good news for many people since the number of patients is enormous. The new method will be cost-effective as well as an excellent way to bring people back to a comfortable life.
Chronic pains over the body
What is chronic pain?
But let’s not jump into the study yet; it’s some background idea you should’ve known in advance, for example, what chronic pain looks like and how brain stimulation is formerly used for.
First, let’s look at the facts about this specific type of pain and how it may affect the living. Usually, chronic pain is understood as severe physical damage after the disease has gone. There are no treatments that can completely halt this ache.
All persistent pain lasting for more than 12 weeks, considering all treatments already but with no success, is diagnosed chronic. Other bad news about it is that people can quickly get into it since many diseases drag it along, such as diabetes, arthritis, back pain, irritable bowel, or fibromyalgia.
A recent statistic shows that 1 in every 4 Americans feels chronic pain. It also happens with 1 in every five citizens living in Scotland. As to be seen, persistent pain becomes a real threat to people, especially ones with backaches. Once people are involved with prolonged pain, daily activities and sports will encounter significant discomfort.
Causes of Chronic pain
Brain stimulation and its application
Deep brain stimulation or DBS is well-known as a treatment for neurological patients and movement of these orders. It treats motor symptoms caused by Parkinson’s disease, such as stiffness, walking issues, focal epilepsy, and more. Usually, people come to DBS since the medication cannot result in any improvements.
How does it work?
As we know, people feel feelings and movements all over the body because of electric signals from the area to the brain. Or else, we do anything within the brain’s control thanks to electric signs moving back and forth.
Therefore, when people lose feelings or lack sensation about movement, there’s a downward electric signal reaction. Selective brain stimulation can help with different symptoms.
People must detect the brain area that is responsible for the abnormal functions then regulate the electric signals. The process stops when treatment can naturalize the circuits. People also need to keep up with taking medicine during DBS, and this method also remains some deficiencies.
Brain stimulation is affecting brain areas using electricity
Deep brain stimulation in curing physical pain
Chronic pain includes both mental and physical issues but more with the latter. Therefore, let’s take a look at the history of deep brain stimulation in curing physical pains.
DBS in treating movement disorders
Joint physical pains are about walking problems, movement issues, and motor skill degradation. Parkinson’s disease has significantly benefited from this method since it can tackle post-treatment very well moderate issues. When people go through treatments with medicine but remain irritated with shaking, stiffness or slowness, they’re suggested to take DBS.
Also, it’s a famous therapy for essential tremor. It’s estimated that this method reduces 80% of the tremors from Parkinson’s disease and other syndromes. However, the result proves more positivity with modest cases when patients didn’t respond to medication. However, when it comes to traumatic pain, the outcome is vague.
Dystonia patients also benefit from this treatment even though the outcome doesn’t share the same effect. People come to brain stimulation when the medication fails to cope with either type of dystonia, regardless of duration. Meige Syndrome is also in the list of treatable diseases by DBS.
Deep brain stimulation can help with a long-term physical disorder
Issues while treating with DBS
A complete kit for deep brain stimulation includes an internal pulse generator which people implant under chest skin, wire, and insulated wire to insert the skull. As you can see, the intervention happens physically on flesh and with electricity.
As the process of setting up devices and stimulating the brain is complicated, there are many risks. Patients who can take DBS as a treatment are the only ones who can take risks. Let’s take a closer look at the disadvantages that people may encounter.
Map of how deep brain stimulation is set on the body
First, there are surgery risks when people drill a hole in the skull. The spot is to let the electrodes through. Surgeons also implant a device under the chest, so there is another place for operation. Skull and chest are two sensitive spots in human bodies where bleeding or stroke could arise. Also, misplacement could happen, and the DBS must be on the exact brain section to get the expected outcome.
Even when the surgery finishes nicely and all devices are ready to stimulate. The risks are possible. Patients may encounter pains and post-stroke. Swelling at the implantation site is highly probable. Also, action on brains could cause concentration problems.
Last but not least, stimulation with electricity imposes the most risks. Wrong tension, frequency, or wrong stimulated area could result in a considerable side-effect and no-good outcome for the disease. Effects could be all around the head, from speech and vision problems to mood swings or sensation malfunction.
To sum up, applying DBS contains both pros and cons that consultants and the consultees must consider. Hence, the application for chronic pains will be a long way to go.
How is DBS supposed to help with chronic pain?
A new study by the UNC school has found out the possibility of relieving chronic pain using DBS. Even though the report remains a research’s result, it’s astounding news to the field when one of the most significant chronic problems is on the edge of being solved.
A new study by UNC School of Medicine
At Society for Neuroscience conference 2018, a new study suggested that targeting a specific brain area could work as a treatment in San Diego. As chronic pain treatment is based on boosting brain waves, the new finding had shredded light on a new medicine.
The research was among neurostimulation, psychiatry, and chronic pain. And luckily, they found a positive outcome. The stimulation experiment had been on for several years before they concluded.
As they presented, targeting a region on the brain could bring back that section’s activity, which may lose chronically. The increase or decrease of movement could result from relief from pain, which researchers observe through symptoms.
The content, later published in the Journal of Pain, also pointed out that chronic pain is causing a massive ratio of disability all over the world. And again, the brain has a lot to do with that. They also looked at peripheral factors like back pain, but its source may lie in brain operation. We will come back to that later.
They had studied people’s brain waves in the former research and observed abnormal waves in those who suffer chronic pain. Hence, it’s persuasive that the brain waves are reflecting pain with the cause-effect relationship. Let’s see the details of the study below.
Society for Neuroscience conference 2018
People who took part in the research are Flavio Frohlich, Sangtae Ahn, and Julianna Prim. Let’s see through their profile a bit.
Flavio Frohlich, Ph.D. – author
Flavio Frohlich, Ph.D. and also the director of Carolina Center for Neurostimulation. He is working as a professor in psychiatry at the moment. He graduated from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and worked on many projects relating to neurobiology and electrical engineering. Frohlich wishes to bring a new method in curing psychiatric illnesses.
Sangtae Ahn – co-first author
He is a team member in the Frohlich lab. During the time working with Frohlich, he became the co-first author of the research.
Julianna Prim, co-first author
She graduated from UNC school of medication and under the consultant of Karen McCulloch, PT, Ph.D., in the Department of Allied Health Sciences.
People had experimented on people whose problem was chronic back pain. There were 20 volunteers for the study, and each of them suffered severe pain for a considerable length of time. They didn’t implant deep brain stimulation but only on the scalp.
The whole experiment lasted for 40-minute sessions twice in several weeks. They observed the changes in brain wave patterns and pain symptoms. They saw the changes and analyzed the possible influence of electrodes on the brain in helping with the pain.
The research must extend on a bigger scale and be through a specific step to reach a concrete conclusion. However, it’s good news at the moment in the chase for chronic treatment.