Physical pain is a near universal problem, whether its sudden pangs or chronic aches. Yet, researchers’ efforts to quash it completely have fallen short—possibly due to a moonlighting channel in nerve cells. But that may be about to change.
Congenital analgesia was the affliction of a character in the Millennium series by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. Now I see that the wiki page has been updated with a reference to this study with the woman…
General pain reduction medicines that are not targeted all the time. If you are getting blasted with opioids, you are aiming your guns at the entire body. Opioids, while pretty good at pain reduction, have a lot of negative side effects, not the least of which is just boring old addiction.
Additionally, if you are busy dying of cancer, it probably isn’t all that dangerous, relatively speaking. If hospice care, if you could kill the pain without giving someone mind ruining levels of pain killers, you have done a very good thing. A lot of times to relieve the pain of someone who is dying, you basically have to dump them into a drug induced haze. That is all well and good until that person wants to speak to family. Being able to just turn off the pain without rendering someone incoherent would be a massive boon.
It could also be useful for people who are not dying, but are in agonizing pain. Again, some pain requires basically drugging someone stupid. Sure, there are dangers, but you can live with those. The risk of accidentally harming yourself and not knowing is a lot more appealing than being bed ridden in withering agony in some cases. Finally, if the control is analog, you might be able to dial back pain without turning it off. Imagine if you could dull the pain to level someone will still detect catastrophic damage (I put my hand on a hot stove), but it dulls out lower level chronic pain.
This is a really kick ass and revolutionary break through if it pans out. Near total control over pain using a drug that is almost certainly less harmful than opioids? Yes please! I really hope this turns out to be as good as it looks. If nothing else, it might go a long way to reducing the opiate addictions that our current pain management regimes have a nasty habit of producing.