Chronic pain affects one in five Australians' ability to work every year but new effective management could halve that number.
Head of the Pain Management and Research Institute at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital, Professor Michael Cousins, believes mapping the body's pathway is a breakthrough in implementing treatment.
"We now have a new drug that was initially identified by our colleagues at the University of Queensland and is now being refined by us, in collaboration with them and the University College London," Professor Cousins said.
"We actually have a drug that works on one of these key sodium channels and is now running through the early stages of development in the laboratory.
"We hope to get it into patients sometime in the next year or so."
When pain is triggered in a muscle or the skin, the pain signal travels directly to the spinal nerve which is the gateway where the signal is allowed to travel up the spinal cord into key areas of the brain.
The new drug attacks the pain signal where it really counts, as it hits the spinal nerve, and neutralizes the pain before it crosses the blood-brain barrier.
The drug does not have a name yet and its developers claim it definitely works with little or no toxic side effects.
Unlike current drugs, it would not affect the heart or the brain.
Professor Cousins is also behind a new treatment for migraines, which some media outlets are hyping as a cure.
It involves surgery to place electrodes on the nerves at the back of the neck.
"It's not a cure for migraine sufferers, but it may be a very good treatment for some migraine sufferers," Professor Cousins said.
Mother-of-two Jane Farmer got whiplash in a car accident five years ago and ever since she has been in excruciating pain.
"I was at rock bottom and I just felt that there was nowhere else to go," she said.
After having screws put in her neck, Jane did not want any more surgery or drugs, so Professor Cousins treated her.
With help from the Institute's Adapt Program, Jane now has her chronic pain under control and has her active life back.
Just three months ago, Jamie Street could not walk and had not worked for almost two years.
His pathway to pain was the simple act of lifting a box.
The father-of-three tried everything to banish the pain but nothing worked.
"I was on a cocktail of pretty much many and varied medications, morphine was one of them," Jamie said.
The Pain Institute has taught Jamie how to use his leg again and to control his pain.
He is working part-time and enjoying his family for the first time in years.
"It's pretty much given me life back."
If you would like further information or you can help with donations for the Institute, call 1800 664 937 or visit www.pmri.med.usyd.edu.au
General enquiries should be directed to Helen Johnston, PA to Professor Cousins, Department and Anaesthesia and Pain Management.
Phone (02) 9926 8423 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To make appointments at the Pain Management and Research Centre at Royal North Shore Hospital, call (02) 9926 7676.''Disclaimer
The information on yahoo7.com.au/todaytonight is made available for information purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Also, the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information is not guaranteed. Yahoo!7 and The Seven Network do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.''
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