3 Ways Technology Is Being Used To Relieve Pain

Written by on April 10, 2013 in Technology - No comments | Print this page

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Blair-Tech-PainChronic pain affects millions of Americans, who must muddle through life under a dark cloud that follows them around wherever they go.

Fortunately, researchers are developing new technologies that provide relief from some common ailments that promote unending discomfort.

Angina Pectoris

One of the most common types of chronic pain, Angina pectoris is characterized by debilitating chest discomfort. Studies suggest this condition affects over ten million Americans, who often submit to angioplasties, drug therapy and coronary artery bypass graft surgeries for relief. That said, new technology may soon replace many of these procedures.

UC San Diego Health System recently recruited several subjects to test a type of cardiac shock wave technology, which utilizes low-intensity energy to relieve pain and stimulate the development of new blood vessels within the heart.

This technology also sends out acoustic shock waves to break up plaque much in the same way lithotripsy dissolves stone. Although patients may have to wait years for this treatment to become available; initial results appear to indicate that it has exciting possibilities that could lead to a less invasive treatment for angina pectoris.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

A debilitating condition that leaves sufferers at the mercy of numerous unpleasant symptoms, temporomandibular joint disorder affects countless Americans. Right now, health professionals treat TMD either through surgery or dental intervention; however, scientists are testing new technologies to see if they can also provide some level of relief.

Researchers out of the Department of Psychology at Williams College, Massachusetts recently tested electromyographic (EMG) biofeedback to see if it could relieve symptoms associated with TMD. EMG biofeedback uses electronic sensors which closely monitor muscle tension.

When muscles relax, the sensors beep slowly; when muscles tense, they beep rapidly. By listening to this beeping, subjects were able to train themselves to relax.

Ultimately, researchers reported that this treatment strategy did appear to help the subjects in their study better cope with their TMD symptoms; however, according to TMD dentist Dr. Donna Blair, this type of technology shouldn’t be viewed as a cure.

“Even if biofeedback provided any sort of minor TMD relief, the effects would only be temporary,” she said. “For lasting relief, patients need treatments that focus on correcting bite problems, which are frequently the root cause of this trying disorder.”

Still, even if EMG biofeedback isn’t the ideal treatment for TMD; this study appears to suggest that it could be a suitable option for other types of chronic problems, such as back pain, neck pain and more.

Cancer Pain

Originally designed to aid plant growth experiments in space, a fascinating NASA technology is now being used to alleviate painful side-effects associated with radiation and chemotherapy treatments in patients who’ve undergone stem cell and bone marrow transplants.

Dubbed High Emissivity Aluminiferous Luminescent Substrate, or HEALS, this far red/near infrared Light Emitting Diode treatment utilizes long wavelength light which releases photons that aid cell healing.

Not only does this treatment improve patient morale by alleviating pain, it speeds the healing process for patients who experience mouth and throat sores, allowing them to eat comfortably much quicker than they normally would.

Learning More

While many new pain relieving technologies are merely in their test phases of development; countless others are available today. Unfortunately, few people are aware of these exciting new treatments. If you suffer from chronic pain, see your doctor to learn what modern options are available for your specific condition.

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Ryan Lawrence writes for Off-Topic Media. Thanks to Dr. Blair for contributing to this story. Visit her website at www.drdonnablair.com.

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