Nerves and chronic pain

Structural Plasticity and Reorganization in Chronic Pain

Heidelberg, Germany, September 19-20, 2011

Neural plasticity is a key mechanism underlying chronic pain. Although functional changes in pain states have been the focus of many studies and symposia, less attention has been paid to the fact that tremendous potential for plasticity exists at the level of structure, connectivity and representation of pain. Importantly, structural plasticity can occur at various anatomical and temporal scales and can account for the very long-term nature and persistence of pain observed in pathological states. Therefore, there is a need for bringing together international experts to discuss changes in structure, connectivity and representation of pain in chronic pain states. This symposium aims to discuss latest insights on structural changes and reorganization at all anatomical levels of pain pathways and will span novel data in patients and animal models.

This looks an interesting meeting- it is the first of its kind and we may start to see more progress in the field. I wonder how long it will take to filter through to gynaecologists, urologists etc. We won't be attending as it clashes with another meeting about surgery which is in London. However I know a couple of the researchers involved in the Heidelberg meeting.

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  • Sounds interesting Judy, not too sure what it all means though!

    Look forward to receiving feedback though.

  • I didn't understand it either. but I think this link helps with the definition although it applies to the brain.

    brainhealth.utdallas.edu/in...

    Maybe we will see some progress in this area before to long... Thanks Judy

  • Yes, that's a good link - well explained. One of the presentations in Istanbul was about fMRI of the brain in dysmenorrhoea and endometriosis. It's about to be published ( research has already been published about fMRI of the brain in vulvodynia, IBS, fibromyalgia and low back pain ) . The presenter mentioned that amitriptyline repairs some of the damage to brain cells caused by pain. That's great if the medication works for you. Also the side effects arn't great - loss of libido etc etc. I only know this because two of us from PPSN attended the meeting as a result of having our two posters accepted to present at the meeting. It cost almost £1,000 to attend. We used the 1,000 Euro prize money from our award presented on European Patient's Rights Day in Brussels in May. Without the award we would not have been able to attend.

    The problem with the research is that it generally takes around 20 years after publication to filter through to clinicians as the medical curriculum is slow to change and pain is not a major part of the curriculum in most countries. So, much change is needed. This is why it's really important for patient advocates to be able to attend these international events and there are several more coming up but unless we can raise some funds we won't be able to go. It's not the same asking any of the researchers after the event - they haven't got time and what's of interest to them and what they choose to tell may not be what we as patients want to know.

  • In this high tech world is there no other way of getting information first hand from the meeting, rather than relying on busy researchers feed back.

    I think that for this meeting the whole thing would go waaaay over my head (Wooshing past at zero gravity level) anyway but for others that can not be attended? ?

    I wasn't aware that pain could damage brain cells . "The presenter mentioned that amitriptyline repairs some of the damage to brain cells caused by pain". But good to know that about amitriptyline.

    I saw that it was thought to be useful for some alzheimer related stroke victims too.

  • No, there isn't any way of doing this. The slides of the meeting are sometimes made available to those who attend via a private login but often even this isn't done. There is usually an abstract book which attendees receive with a short summary of the presentations. I have got shelves full of these. In fact one of the most interesting aspects of the presentations is the questions and discussions that arise from them. Of course this isn't written down. There are very rarely any medical journalists at these meetings. Several years a go there was a piece in a national paper about brain structure and cell damage resulting from chronic pain but it is not well know about at all.

    In fact most non medical people with an interest in the field can understand a lot. Several of our young volunteers have attended International meetings during the last few years and gained a lot from being there. It gives a much greater insight into the work that is going on, clinicians knowledge etc etc. They are also able to speak to clinicians in a less formal way at our information table rather than in the consulting room !

  • I was offered Amytriptyline several years ago. After reading the side -effects I would rather not take this medication which can produce physical and psychological symptoms that I would rather not have on top of my chronic pain.

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