COVID-19 UPDATE: Regenexx is committed to the health and safety of our patients. You may now be seen in clinic or via telemedicine for virtual/online or phone visits.
LEARN MORE
Our physicians are available via telemedicine to continue to give you the care you need during this difficult time. Learn more.

New Nerve Pain Cells Discovered…

By /

Receive a Regenexx® Patient Info Packet by email and learn why it's a superior regenerative solution.

By submitting the form, you are agreeing that you read and consent to our Privacy Policy. We may also contact you via email, phone, and other electronic means to communicate information about our products and services. We do not sell, or share your information to third party vendors.

new pain nerve cells

One of the things I love about medicine is that if you pay close attention, what we know is being constantly updated and expanded and sometimes rewritten. Take for example nerves. Who would have thought that new nerve cells that carry pain signals would still be being discovered in 2017? You would have thought that stuff ended at the turn of the 19th century, but if so, you would be wrong. This morning I’d like to introduce you to a new cell that may have implications for how we treat chronic pain.

Neurons: The Cells of Our Nervous System

Technically termed neurons, nerve cells are the basic units that make up the nervous system including both the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS consists of the spinal cord and brain, while the PNS consists of all the nerves that branch off of the CNS, such as those that branch off of the spinal cord and into the arms and legs. Our nerve cells’ main job is to send signals back and forth between the two systems. For example, if we stub our toe, nerve cells send a pain signal to our brain. There are many different types of nerve cells, and our focus today is on somatosensory nerve cells, particularly those that are stimulated by external sensations such as pain, heat and cold, and even touch.

Before we dive into new study, let’s look at some other fascinating studies on nerve cells that we’ve covered over the past year.

So Much of the Nervous System Is Still Unexplored

Medicine is constantly learning new things about the nervous system. As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, most people think we know most everything there is to know about the functions of the human body, but the truth is, we’re probably closer to the 60% mark, and the nervous system may perhaps be the most unchartered body system of all. Just looking at pain, for example, there are so many different types of pain stemming from so many different types of nerve cells (neurons) that understanding each and every one is tough. But one study at a time, we’re learning more and more about the nerve cells that are associated with pain. Let’s review a few of the most recent studies.

Now let’s take a look at the new study on nerve cells.

Painful-Hair-Pulling Study Discovers New Nerve Cell

In the new study, researchers were looking specifically at mechanical pain, which is the pain we feel due to some type of mechanical stimuli, such as a pinch or, in this case, hair pulling. This is typically a brief pain response that quickly subsides once the stimulus is removed (e.g., once the hair pulling has stopped).

Using mice as subjects, the study used optogenetics, which involves using a light-based technology on cells genetically engineered with a fluorescent protein. The protein flashes green as it comes into contact with calcium (i.e., calcium imaging) when the cells are activated. Activation occurs when the cells sense that a painful mechanical stimulus has been applied (e.g., whiskers pulled). In other words, when the whiskers were pulled, certain pain-sensing cells are activated, and the green-flashing proteins told researchers which cells responded.

Researchers discovered that the ends of the nerve cells responsible for pain with hair pulling (interestingly, even just with one hair being pulled) wound themselves around each and every hair follicle, so they named these new cells circ-HTMRs (circumferential high-threshold mechanical receptors). Researchers hope that the discovery of this new nerve cell will further the understanding of mechanical pain and chronic pain in the future.

The upshot? Again, it blows me away that we’re still discovering new nerve cells in 2017! This and many other studies like it really make it clear that we as physicians need to keep an open mind that to the fact that we don’t know all there is to know. Regrettably, after a decade plus of learning, most physicians believe that they have learned and  know it all. Hopefully studies like this will show that they really don’t.

Category: Latest News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 thoughts on “New Nerve Pain Cells Discovered…

  1. Patricia Tow

    I hope these studies will lead to a cure for tri-geminal neuralgia. I am in the throes of an episode now (my 8th day). Very painful and disruptive.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Patricia,
      They might, as we are always learning and looking to learn more about pain. We could treat tri-geminal neuralgia, but I think this provider in the DC metro area has more experience: http://pmrcenter.org/victor-ibrahim-m-d/

  2. Ian Waterman

    I was a research subject for hair pulling research in NIB Washington. Fascinating research, and much to learn..

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Ian,
      Sounds like an interesting experience, and hopefully will add to our knowledge of how nerves work.

Is Regenexx Right For You?

Request a free Regenexx Info Packet

REGENEXX WEBINARS

Learn about the #1 Stem Cell & Platelet Procedures for treating arthritis, common joint injuries & spine pain.

Join a Webinar

RECEIVE BLOG ARTICLES BY EMAIL

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to the Blog

CONTACT US

9035 Wadsworth Pkwy #1000
Westminster, CO 80021
888-525-3005

FOLLOW US

Copyright © Regenexx 2020. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy

*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.

LinkedIn
Email