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New Treatment For Chronic Pain After Spinal Cord Injury

February 9, 2012

Chronic neuropathic pain following a spinal cord injury is common and very difficult to treat, but a new therapeutic strategy requiring a one-time injection into the spinal column has potential to improve patient outcomes. This cutting-edge pain management strategy is described in an article published in Journal of Neurotrauma, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The article is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/neu, along with a related article on pain following spinal cord injury.

A single injection of fibronectin, a glycoprotein produced in the body that helps anchor cells in place, can prevent the development of chronic pain that often develops after a spinal cord injury. Ching-Yi Lin, Yu-Shang Lee, Vernon Lin and Jerry Silver, from the Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, and Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, OH, describe the successful outcome following injection of a small quantity of fibronectin into the spinal dorsal column of animals immediately after a spinal dorsal column crush injury. The treatment inhibits the development of a particular type of chronic pain–mechanical allodynia, or pain from pressure that would not normally cause pain–which is common in spinal cord injury patients. The authors report their findings in the article “Fibronectin Inhibits Chronic Pain Development after Spinal Cord Injury.”

Changes that occur outside the central nervous system can also play a role in the development of chronic pain after spinal cord injury. Another article in the Journal by Supinder Bedi and colleagues, University of Texas Medical School at Houston, reports that a type of nerve cell present in the peripheral nervous system, called a nociceptive primary afferent neuron, is hyperexcitable and displays spontaneous activity after spinal cord injury, which might be important for the development of chronic pain. They present their findings in the article “Spinal Cord Injury Triggers an Intrinsic Growth-Promoting State in Nociceptors.”

“These highlighted experimental studies provide new information on mechanisms underlying the development of neuropathic pain and potential therapeutic interventions to treat pain after spinal cord injury,” says Deputy Editor of Journal of Neurotrauma, W. Dalton Dietrich III, PhD, Scientific Director, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, and Kinetic Concepts Distinguished Chair in Neurosurgery, Professor of Neurological Surgery, Neurology and Cell Biology at University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, Lois Pope LIFE Center.

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