In just 100 years (1900-2000), life expectancy in the U.S. has increased by 30 years (from about 47 to 77). In the same period, a number of diseases have been eliminated or so well controlled that they're no longer a threat to health. The same progress has been made in other nations. Some of these, such as smallpox, were very serious, deadly diseases.
One condition that is still getting a lot of attention is neuropathy. While this condition isn't necessarily life-threatening, its causes can be. Left untreated, chronic neuropathy can be debilitating at best. Fortunately, there are some new ways of looking at this condition and there are new treatments as well. A man named Dr. Labrum has a program you can use, a step-by-step, self-treatment for peripheral neuropathy pain. It doesn't involve drugs or surgery.
In the Brain
This condition responds to very few treatments because the underlying process that leads to nerve damage is not well understood. Some new discoveries are shedding more light on this medical mystery. A report in a respected medical journal shows some positive signs of helping patients suffering from peripheral neuropathy, or nerve pain.
Read some of the headlines about new treatments for neuropathy and you'll see the word “brain” mentioned quite often. Records show that about 10 percent of the population in many countries now suffers from nerve pain or damage from a variety of causes. The network of nerve fibers that send signals from the brain and spinal cord to all parts of the body can be damaged or severely reduced in efficiency, causing people to experience numbness, tingling and pain.
The latest discovery focuses on the part of the brain that scientists believe is consistently involved in processing pain. Doctors call this region of the brain the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). New information about the treatment of neuropathy includes details about a specific way that pain signals are transmitted to the ACC. When these “channels” send stimulation signals, the sensation of pain increases. Blocking these channels reduces overstimulation and decreases the sensation of pain.
The study shows how chronic pain is associated with abnormal activity in the ACC. This leads to a better understanding of how neurons are overstimulated at the molecular level. With this knowledge, specialists can move toward strategies that may target these channels and reduce chronic pain. Researchers are also using brain scans to show that factors such as emotions and psychological status can influence the perception of pain.
Scientists have also been able to link chronic pain to problems such as focusing on work or using short-term memory. In addition, people with chronic neuropathic pain sometimes show tendencies toward anxiety and depression. With new information from these studies, this moves from the realm of theory to a real possibility for understanding chronic pain. A second study in California may indicate that a certain type of stress may be a major cause of neuropathic pain. This could lead to new therapies to treat the pain.
Inadequate results from existing treatments are the reason these new ideas are so exciting. Currently, most people with chronic nerve pain don't find adequate relief or experience unacceptable side effects. The need for a better understanding of neuropathy is key to this increased research. This could lead doctors and patients away from using medications designed for other pain conditions.
For several years, people suffering from the pain of damaged nerves have sought help from medical professionals. In many cases, these patients were prescribed antidepressants and anticonvulsants, which were thought to reduce the pain of neuropathy. But more research now shows that these drugs don't work well and don't work equally well for everyone. New research, such as that mentioned above, may be more focused and address the specific conditions that cause nerve pain.
Peripheral neuropathy involves damaged nerve fibers that respond to otherwise normal signals and send the wrong information to pain centers in the brain. The first study mentioned above is considered a major breakthrough in properly treating the condition. Stay tuned for major advances in the treatment of neuropathy.