Cutting edge therapies for chronic pain are being developed in Chicago at Rush hospital. "The incidence of chronic pain is significant," said Dr. Asokumar Buvanendran the Anesthesiology Department Chair at Rush University Medical Center. "In fact, it is much more than hypertension and diabetes combined," he added. Rush is partnering with the National Institute of Health to identify where chronic pain originates and who is most susceptible to developing it.
They are using MRI scans of the brain to get their results.
"Traditionally, pain is reported by the patient, but we can actually see documented evidence now in the brain of the circuits that light up with chronic pain. So that's a really exciting and new field that's developed over the years," said Dr. Buvanendran Instead of prescribing opioids, doctors are now able to insert electrodes surgically into the spine to stop pain signals before they reach the brain and trigger discomfort. "So if you're able to interrupt the signals in the process, you naturally can cut down the pain signals going to the brain, and therefore you decrease the pain perception," said Dr. Buvanendran.