Thursday, December 02, 2010

New culprits in chronic pain: Glia

Glia are nervous system caretakers whose nurturing can go too far. Taming them holds promise for alleviating pain that current medications cannot ease, according to an article in a recent issue of Scientific American.

  • Chronic pain that persists after an injury heals is often caused by overly excited pain-sensing neurons that signal without an external stimulus.
  • Traditional pain drugs that target neural cells directly rarely quiet these abnormal pain messages because the neurons’ heightened sensitivity is driven by a different type of cell called glia.
  • Such cells monitor the activity of neurons and attempt to keep them healthy and functioning efficiently. But well-intentioned glial reactions to intense pain can at times prolong that pain.
Write to me or post a comment and I’ll send you a pdf of the full article.

No comments: