Relieving chronic pain

March 25, 2013

A new, implantable device for treating chronic pain passes an important safety test.

Each year, more than 35,000 patients in the United States are implanted with stimulators to treat chronic pain. Unfortunately, up to half of such patients receive only very limited pain relief. To help more patients, scientists are developing a new device to deliver therapeutic stimulation in a more targeted way, reaching deep within the spinal cord.

Standard devices, first introduced in 1967, work by delivering a low electrical current to the spinal cord that interferes with the body's pain signals. Such devices, however, are only able to deliver therapeutic current to a thin layer of nerve fibers along the outside of the spinal cord. That's because the electrodes delivering the current are placed within the , which is itself conductive and so dissipates some of the current.

The new device, called the Human Spinal Cord Modulation System (HSCMS), is designed to be in direct contact with the spinal cord, held in place by a small loop of wire. Because the spinal cord moves during normal patient activity, that loop has to exert enough pressure for the HSCMS to stay in contact with the spinal cord but not so much that the pressure restricts blood flow or causes direct injury.

To test the pressure exerted by the HSCMS's design, researchers attached the device to a silicone model of the spinal cord previously developed to have the same biomechanical characteristics as living tissue. They then slowly compressed the loop, measuring the pressure exerted on the silicone model. The results, which were accepted for publication in the (AIP) Journal of Applied Physics, show the device's loop design exerts pressure at a similar level as is normally found on the spinal cords of healthy people, and so passes an important safety test for further development of the device.

Explore further: Research offers hope in new treatment for spinal cord injuries

More information: "Dynamic loading characteristics of an intradural spinal cord stimulator" is published in the Journal of Applied Physics. jap.aip.org/resource/1/japiau/v113/i2/p026103_s1

Related Stories

Research offers hope in new treatment for spinal cord injuries

May 3, 2011
Rutgers researchers have developed an innovative new treatment that could help minimize nerve damage in spinal cord injuries, promote tissue healing and minimize pain.

Researchers find possible breakthrough to relieve pain following spinal cord injury

November 30, 2011
A collaborative research group – led by researchers at Cleveland Clinic – published findings that indicate a one-time injection immediately after spinal cord injury can limit pain for an extended period of time.

Spinal cord treatment offers hope

November 18, 2011
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researchers have developed a promising new treatment for spinal cord injury in animals, which could eventually prevent paralysis in thousands of people worldwide every year.

NJIT researcher testing micro-electronic stimulators for spinal cord injuries

October 17, 2011
A new wireless device to help victims of spinal cord injury is receiving attention in the research community. Mesut Sahin, PhD, associate professor, in the department of biomedical engineering at NJIT, recently has published ...

Recommended for you

Female mouse embryos actively remove male reproductive systems

August 17, 2017
A protein called COUP-TFII determines whether a mouse embryo develops a male reproductive tract, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and their colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. The ...

New Pathology Atlas maps genes in cancer to accelerate progress in personalized medicine

August 17, 2017
A new Pathology Atlas is launched today with an analysis of all human genes in all major cancers showing the consequence of their corresponding protein levels for overall patient survival. The difference in expression patterns ...

Two-step process leads to cell immortalization and cancer

August 17, 2017
A mutation that helps make cells immortal is critical to the development of a tumor, but new research at the University of California, Berkeley suggests that becoming immortal is a more complicated process than originally ...

New technique overcomes genetic cause of infertility

August 17, 2017
Scientists have created healthy offspring from genetically infertile male mice, offering a potential new approach to tackling a common genetic cause of human infertility.

Inhibiting a protein found to reduce progression of Alzheimer's and ALS in mice

August 17, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with Genetech Inc. and universities in Hamburg and San Francisco has found that inhibiting the creation of a protein leads to a reduction in the progression of Alzheimer's disease ...

Are stem cells the link between bacteria and cancer?

August 17, 2017
Gastric carcinoma is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths, primarily because most patients present at an advanced stage of the disease. The main cause of this cancer is the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.