Neuropathic Pain

How cone snail venom minimizes pain

The venom from marine cone snails, used to immobilize prey, contains numerous peptides called conotoxins, some of which can act as painkillers in mammals. A recent study in The Journal of General Physiology provides new insight ...

May 14, 2014
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Neuropathic pain results from lesions or diseases affecting the somatosensory system. It may be associated with abnormal sensations called dysesthesia, which occur spontaneously and allodynia that occurs in response to external stimuli. Neuropathic pain may have continuous and/or episodic (paroxysmal) components. The latter are likened to an electric shock. Common qualities include burning or coldness, "pins and needles" sensations, numbness and itching. Nociceptive pain, by contrast, is more commonly described as aching.

Up to 7% to 8% of the European population is affected and in 5% of persons it may be severe. Neuropathic pain may result from disorders of the peripheral nervous system or the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Thus, neuropathic pain may be divided into peripheral neuropathic pain, central neuropathic pain, or mixed (peripheral and central) neuropathic pain.

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