Naked Scientists Podcast

Naked Scientists episode

Sat, 25th Jun 2011

Pushing Back the Pain Barrier

Aspirin advert (c) Public Domain

This week, we explore the problem of persistent pain. We find out how chronic pain is currently treated, and look to our DNA for the genetic clues that could lead to future painkillers.  In the news, a new TB vaccination that stands out on it's own, how babies make sense of broken toys, and why flying in a flock may be exhausting for pigeons.  Plus, in Question of the Week, Diana asks why we have a spare copy of some organs.

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 01:46 - TB Booster Better Off Alone

    A new study has shown that a breakthrough vaccine against tuberculosis may be more effective when given alone, rather than alongside other vaccines.

  • 05:27 - Is it Me? Decision Making Babies

    Also in the news this week, 16 month old babies can use limited evidence to decide if they have been given a faulty toy, or are just using the toy incorrectly, according to a study published this week in the journal Science.

  • 27:09 - Chronic Pain

    We find out why some people suffer pain from injuries that took place many years ago...

  • 35:03 - Preventing pain

    Looking for new ways to interfere with pain...

  • 51:55 - How does morphine work to kill pain?

    How is Morphine is a painkiller? Since I smashed my ankle the pain is terrible, I have been put back on oral morphine. Thank you.......... Adrian

  • 53:09 - How are migraines managed medically?

    Dear Dr Smith Could you please advise me as to developments in pain research? For some 10 years my wife has suffered from chronic daily headache together with periodic migraines [i.e. she has had a permanent severe headache 24/7 for 10 years!]. Are there, for example,...

  • 55:58 - Why have one heart but two kidneys?

    I was just wondering why we have 2 of some body parts and only one of others. Why do we have 2 kidneys when we can get on perfectly well with just one? And why don't we have 2 hearts when it's so common for the one we have got to go wrong? Could this change in the future as we ev...



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I have been diagnosed with Late stage Lyme disease. I have had it approximately 20 years untreated. Seems I had a couple nasty bugs a couple years ago Two types of pneumonia and was treated for 7 and 1/2 months with Doxycycline, and  found that by pure accident we may or may not have treated the Lyme that we did not know I had. Now in the face of all that I am still experiencing chronic pain from the damage to the joints...  This week I am transferring from a walker which has been impossible to use  lately to a power wheelchair, because I can no longer stand or walk for any distance without extreme pain and dislocation of my hip. How does this work and why does the pain come from one place, like the hip joint, but feels like it moves down the thigh. My doctor said it is felt in different places but originates like in the hip.. He called it something...? :-) I cant remember the type of pain. I would like to know how our own DNA and genetic clues might sometime soon help me? At this point I have gone through physical therapy to keep the muscles strong, as well as cortisone shots in all my joints, which has really been very ineffective for me. They also seem to throw Pain medications (Norco) at the pain. They have recommended morphine and or Oxycontin for the severe pain which has been left after damage from Lyme and arthritis.

So, what could be the benefits from the genetic research for the chronic pain relief, and could that be something that would be of help in my situation? Karen W., Tue, 28th Jun 2011

Sounds like "referred pain", Karen.

Chris chris, Thu, 7th Jul 2011

There are some very good results with electricity, using a weak current blocking your pain receptors. But it involves a operation as I understand. Also if there is someone near you that have a real knowledge of acupuncture it might help. There were some clinical studies here in Sweden, where doctors used it instead of analgesic, getting good results. Also, as you walk differently due to pain you may strain new muscles and ligaments, and so getting a pain there too. If you can find a way to reduce your intake of painkillers its always worth it, as I see it :)

The idea with the current is that it is you that will use it, when needed.

Also, if you have some friends near you, start to get out to meet them, get a coffee and just talk. Sometimes that is all it take to change that pain from being impossible, to something you learn how to ignore. Just do the thing you really would like to do and see if it helps :) yor_on, Thu, 7th Jul 2011

physcial therapy is very helpful in these scenario these are the quite common pains where it really needs physical therapy and its really helpful too......

no ads thanks Jaylin, Tue, 4th Oct 2011

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