“Tune the Brain” to Alleviate Pain

“Tune the Brain” to Alleviate Pain

Researchers have found a way to “tune” the brain to a certain frequency and the result is reduced pain – at least in test subjects who had laser-heat applied to the back of their arms.

The scientists at the Human Pain Research Group at The University of Manchester found that nerve cells on the surface of the brain are coordinated with each other at a particular frequency depending on the state of the brain.

Alpha waves which are tuned at 9-12 cycles per second have been recently associated with enabling parts of the brain concerned with higher control to influence other parts of the brain.  They found that alpha waves from the front of the brain are associated with placebo analgesia and may be influencing how other parts of the brain process pain.

This finding led to the idea that if we can ‘tune’ the brain to express more alpha waves, perhaps we can reduce pain experienced by people with certain conditions.

Dr. Kathy Ecsy and her colleagues did just that!

They provided volunteers with goggles that flash light in the alpha range or by sound stimulation in both ears phased to provide the same stimulus frequency.  They found that both visual and auditory stimulation significantly reduced the intensity of pain induced by laser-heat repeatedly shone on the back of the arm.

Professor Anthony Jones is the director of the Manchester Pain Consortium said, “This is very exciting because it provides a potentially new, simple and safe therapy that can now be trailed in patients. At recent public engagements events we have had a lot of enthusiasm from patients for this kind of neuro-therapeutic approach.”

While the study was performed on localized pain on the back of the arm, and NOT on subjects with chronic pain, the researchers acknowledged that further studies are required to test the effectiveness in patients with actual pain conditions and noted that the simplicity and low cost of the technology should facilitate such clinical studies.

Dr. Chris Brown, who is a Lecturer in Psychology at The University of Liverpool, who was involved in the research while working in Manchester, said, “It is interesting that similar results were obtained with visual and auditory stimulation, which will provide some flexibility when taking this technology into patient studies. For instance this might be particularly useful for patients having difficulty sleeping because of recurrent pain at night.”

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Authored by: Staff

There are 7 comments for this article
  1. Sandy Miller at 10:20 am

    This is complete BP!. O\ve read about all the corporations who will be making money by taking us off these medication. Bain Corporation (?) is one and there are 2 or 3 more. In fact, it may have been on here where I read about this.

    Sometimes I wish some of these people making these decisions would have to live the way we do, this is absolutely ridiculuous! Maybe President Trump will turn this around for those of us in such pain. This is just unbelievable. Half of us can’t move, and they think doing exercises, or mediation or some other kind of brain thing will help. They are so full of it. I’m sorry, but I’m so tired and hurting and there isn’t a darn thing I can do about it. None of us here have ever overdosed or come close to it, it’s like medication for a diabetic, we t ake it not because we want to but because we have to!

  2. Laura Robertson at 5:32 pm

    In other words, healthy distractors, which are very effective and powerful pain management tools, and a resurrection of the 1970’s biofeedback technique fine tuned to manage pain is now cutting edge science? It’s about time these “theories” started being recognized as effective ways in dealing with chronic pain.

    But that still does NOT give the CDC, the FDA, the DEA, or any other so-called governing ‘alphabet’ body the right to determine whether or not I should be eligible for pain management with safe, effective, medically supervised opiates as prescribed by my medical professionals.

    I fear for what we have already been told is coming, and even more for the plans which have been decided behind closed doors but have yet to be officially announced and implemented. I fear for all Persons With Pain (PWP), and the abuses a heartless and judgemental system is going to continue to heap upon our aching heads in order to “save” us all from the dangers of drug addiction.

    One interesting note: In a peer review of over 2,500 journal articles on pain and addiction, once persons with addiction were pre-selected out, the actual risk of PWP’s developing addiction due to exposure to appropriate opioids for pain management was found to be 0.019%. Yes, that was 0.019%!

    In other words, less than two people in ten thousand MAY be at risk of POSSIBLY developing addiction due to being prescribed opioids for pain. And actually, the risk is even less than that, if proper pre-screening tests for addiction are utilized before opiates are prescribed. Which means our doctors will actually have to take the time to sit down with us, talk to us, listen to us, and do a proper and full physiological assessment. Hmmmm… so much for that idea.

    What a witch-hunt.

    On behalf of the 3.5 million people in Ontario who live with clinically significant levels of pain,

    Laura
    chronicpain@bell.net

  3. Mary Ellen O'Brien at 4:16 pm

    When they use it on people who break bones and have only this for pain, that’s when I will consider it!
    I really don’t care about fantasy that might become true. I call this prose PAIN PORN!
    In the wider disability movement we call those “chicken soup for the soul”, as in, “That poor deformed creature has a soul and has OVERCOME his handicap.”
    It makes us mad that some people give a quick glance and say, “oh! I’ve heard there are people with chronic pain. Now that’s over. It’s taken care of”
    This article gives those who say there is no chronic pain and we are all lazy, something to forward and wave in our faces. No thank you.

  4. Laurie Otto at 8:40 am

    This sounds very interesting for treating localized pain that lasts for a period of days or months. Studies like this might lead to less confusion over when opiates are appropriate and when alternatives might be more appropriate.
    I wish the DEA had some common sense within to support differentiating humans instead of treating ALL HUMANS THE SAME. While some of the same treatments for ALL would be nice, the DEA can’t seem to grasp the basics of need for flexibility within.
    They act like every rain storm is the LONGEST FLOOD, every snow storm will freeze the earth for centuries, etc.
    This sort of “lets gently try this” approach is a lot more helpful and still gets results that MIGHT help people (or not). I encourage more studies like this where nobody must DIE to convince a drug marketing firm to pull their DEA approved treatments.

  5. Tim Mason at 8:29 am

    Brain chemistry is just as sensitive if not more sensitive as our pancreases and sugar regulation. Sounds like this works much like capsaicin.
    With the makers of Cymbalta setting out of court, it would be wise to stick with opioids, both natural and synthetic.
    But Grant Money is Grant money. use it or lose it.
    Every time I read about one of the new fangled devices I run and re-watch the movie “Young Frankenstein”.

  6. Jean Price at 7:24 am

    Sounds like something to further research…since persistent, long term pain is so different than transitory pain originating from the skin in healthy people!! Yet anything that could potentially be ANOTHER source of pain relief is exciting, and perhaps will end up being one of the positive impacts from all the craziness about turning away from opioid pain medication. As long as it’s effective, and not a one size fits all concept that leaves people still hurting! And as long as some sense prevails about the huge significance of opioids use effectively and conscientiously!