Friday, February 20, 2009
Medical Reports: Pain
Millions of people live with chronic pain everyday, but thanks to some innovative breakthroughs, all that is changing. In today's Healthcast, Seven's Dianne Fernandez has a look at two of the latest breakthroughs doctors are using to heal the hurt.
WSVN -- Nothing stops race car driver Mike Roman. What you can't see on the track is that Mike is a victim of MRSA, a staph infection that ended up taking his leg.
Mike Raman: "When the chief of surgery told me they thought they should amputate it, I just wasn't ready. I'm 29, and I just wanted to be that dad that my dad was to me, and I just didn't envision that with one leg."
His amputation caused even more pain.
Mike Raman: "I woke up with phantom limb pain, and I had been through so much that this was entirely off the scale."
When drugs failed, Mike turned to a new treatment called neuromodulation for relief.
Dr. Chislom: "It's very similar to what is done for a pacemaker."
A small incision is made in the back and electrodes are implanted in the spine. A remote control allows Mike to turn on the electrodes and literally turn off his pain.
Christopher Chisholm: "It's now blocked, and instead of that painful sensation, you get a tingling sensation."
Meanwhile, doctors at the University of Michigan, believe it or not, are using the herpes virus to relieve pain.
Dr. David Fink: "When you inject it into the skin, it goes into the sensory neuron that's right next to the spinal cord."
The herpes virus kind of acts like a shuttle. First doctors inject the virus with the gene for one of the body's natural painkillers.
When injected into the skin, the virus carries the genes directly to nerves. Soon the body produces more painkillers that block pain signals. Both treatments may sound like science fiction, but for Mike, all he knows is that it works.
Mike Raman: "It was the first time that I had hope."
The herpes virus that's used to shuttle genes is not active and will not give patients herpes. The first human clinical trial is currently recruiting participants who have terminal cancer.
FORE MORE INFORMATION:
University of Michigan Back and Pain Center
Race Against Pain