An international research team has discovered how to reverse pain from diabetes-related peripheral nerve damage, according to a study published in Nature Neuroscience.
Although nerve damage generally cannot be repaired, “proper pain management can significantly improve the lives of people with diabetic neuropathy and others living with nerve damage,” said Kate Poole, PhD, senior co-author of the study.
Human skin is equipped with specialized receptors that allow the perception of the slightest brush, meaning some of these receptors can even detect extremely small movements. These movements are transformed into electrical signals via channels at sensory endings in the skin. The sensitivity of these channels is controlled by a protein called STOML3, which is required for normal receptor function.
In the study, researchers identified a molecule that inhibited STOML3 clustering and silenced pain receptors.
Importantly, the scientists found that inhibiting STOML3 did not significantly affect nonpain-related touch sensitivity, which ensured touch sensitivity was not sacrificed at the expense of turning off pain receptors.
“Directly targeting nerve receptors in the skin could help manage pain in a way that does not trigger the negative side effects of drugs that act on the body’s central nervous system…,” said Poole.
The team is hopeful that, with further research, a new drug can be developed to treat patients with pain-related nerve damage.
This article was adapted from information provided by the University of New South Wales.
Chronic Wound Patients Who Never Receive Opioids Heal Faster
A study by George Washington University (GW) researcher Victoria Shanmugam, MD, suggests patients with chronic wounds who never receive opioids heal faster than those who do receive the often-prescribed drugs.
Chronic wounds are those that have failed to heal after three months of appropriate wound care. They cause considerable pain, affecting patient well-being and quality of life, and significantly impact mortality.
While there is a strong correlation between opioid exposure and reduced healing in these patients, further research is needed to determine if it is a causal relationship.
This article was adapted from information provided by GW.
When to get A Second Opinion
Getting a second opinion for a medical condition doesn’t have to be kept secret. In fact, when it comes to complex or serious, life-threatening conditions, most doctors encourage second opinions. Sometimes, if there are treatment options that a doctor doesn’t offer, he or she will even recommend that a patient seek out a second opinion.
“When you have a serious disease for which the therapies are controversial or changing very quickly, a second opinion may offer the possibility of new experimental drugs or therapeutic approaches,” said Barbara Miller, MD, of Penn State Children’s Hospital.
John Messmer, MD, of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, said the most important thing is for the patient to have a trusted primary care provider who can make referrals and coordinate care and opinions from specialists.
If you decide to get a second opinion, both doctors suggest checking with your insurance company to make sure it will be covered. Many health insurance plans will cover a second—or even third—opinion, as long as you can justify the reason for it.
Messmer said that it’s probably best not to go to one of your doctor’s partners for a second opinion, yet he recommended carefully considering the decision to go to a different institution or hospital.
“Sometimes it makes sense [to go to a different institution] if someone is doing something…unique, or maybe they have a special program set up,” he said. “But if your condition requires recurrent visits or if you have complications, you have to go back there because the people at your home institution may not have all the details to manage things. So you have to make sure it’s worth it.”
Most good physicians are confident in their skills and want their patients to have confidence in them, so if a patient asks for a second opinion, they are usually understanding and helpful rather than upset.
“If you don’t have complete trust in your physician, or you have reason to believe that all options have not been presented, you should consider a second opinion,” said Miller.
Two starkly different opinions might not mean one is right and one is wrong, however.
“Different people may do things different ways, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that one is better,” Messmer said.
“Sometimes you have to rely on your intuition and who you like best and feel most comfortable with,” he said. “A lot of the outcome often depends on how much faith you have in your physician and your belief that you have someone good taking care of you.”
This article was adapted from information provided by Hershey Medical Center.
Research Could Lead to Targeted Pain Control
Many pain-sensing nerves in the body were thought to respond to all types of painful events, but University College London (UCL) research reveals most are actually specialized to respond to specific types, such as heat, cold, or mechanical pain. The study found that more than 85 percent of pain-sensing neurons in whole organisms are sensitive to just one type of painful stimulus—a finding that could enable scientists to develop specific painkillers for different pain conditions.
This article was adapted from information provided by UCL.