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Researching ways to "heal the hurt"

Time just posted on its website "Healing the Hurt," a recent cover story on chronic pain. Writer Alice Park visited Stanford while researching the story, and she discusses the work of several of our pain experts, including David Yeomans, PhD:

...Yeomans, director of pain research at Stanford, was inspired by a psychiatric treatment for bipolar disorder in which magnetic stimulation shuffles nerve networks back to a near normal state. He wondered if the same technique could be applied to pain. And indeed, in early studies, he found that concentrating magnetic fields to target deep-seated pain centers can also relieve symptoms in patients who do not respond to any other therapy.

That's important, since chronic pain may be self-perpetuating, and the sooner pain can be addressed, the less likely it will be to cause persistent and relentless discomfort. "There is intriguing evidence suggesting that chronic pain in osteoarthritis, for example, itself may be causing enhanced damage to joints," says [Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, a Stanford professor of anesthesia]. "The altered brain is causing changes in the spinal cord that are having an effect on the joints and accelerating damage." The more pain the brain feels, the more damage that does to the body, giving it a physical reason to feel still more.

Previously: Stanford's Sean Mackey discusses recent advances in pain research and treatment and Oh what a pain

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