AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 28, Number 2, 2019


Chronic Pain May Be Due to Receptors That Hide Within Nerve Cells

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Study, in rodents, may lead to development of a new class of medications for chronic pain that is longer-lasting, with fewer side effects

A study led by Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has shown that chronic pain may occur when pain receptors migrate from the nerve cell’s surface to the cell’s inner chambers, out of the reach of current pain medications. The discovery, in rodents, may lead to the development of a new class of medications for chronic pain that is more potent and less prone to side effects than currently available pain treatments. An estimated 20 percent of people have chronic pain at some point. Currently available therapies for chronic pain include opioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Both have drawbacks: Opioids are addictive and can cause constipation and respiratory distress, while frequent use of NSAIDs can cause stomach ulcers and kidney damage.

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