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School of Medicine
September is Pain Awareness Month
Understanding more about the underlying causes of pain can help improve treatments and alleviate suffering. Johns Hopkins researchers are working on everything from the molecular causes of pain to the latest advances in pain treatment.
What You Need to Know
- Nearly 100 million Americans experience chronic pain —more than those who have diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.
- Pain is a warning sign that indicates a problem that needs attention.
- Pain starts in receptor nerve cells located beneath the skin and in organs throughout the body.
- Living with pain can be debilitating and adversely affect everyday life.
Arthritis refers to over 100 different conditions ranging from autoimmune disease to normal joint inflammation.
- Recent experiments have uncovered that the body's own immune system makes unique antibodies to help the most severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis progress.
- Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis -- treatment plans often involve both short-term and long-term approaches.
- An estimated 294,000 children are affected by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) and other rheumatological conditions.
According to the National Institutes of Health, eight out of ten people will have back pain at some time in their life.
- Bad posture and bad habits, even a simple cough or sneeze, can throw more than your back out of whack. Dr. Ali Bydon, director the of the Johns Hopkins Bayview Spine Program , discusses lower back pain, it’s causes and who might be a candidate for spinal surgery.
- Over the years, the treatments for back pain changed. Watch Dr. Daniel Sciubba, director of spine research, discusses common spinal problems, treatment options, and common questions.
- Millions of people get crippling headaches, and there are dozens of different headache types -- but receiving the right diagnosis is key to getting the right treatment.
- Migraines can be triggered by stress, fatigue, or certain foods -- and researchers claim obese patients are five times more likely to develop chronic migraines.
- A child's headache may be triggered by several factors, including: genetics, hormones, stress, diet, medication, dehydration, school or behavioral issues, and/or depression.
Innovations in Pain Treatment
There are many different methods and techniques for treating pain, both chronic and acute.
- Botox For Pain Relief -- For patients who have a painful and debilitating nerve compression disorder called thoracic outlet syndrome, Botox may offer temporary relief and an alternative to rib-removal surgery. A small research study has shown promising results.
- Attitude Adjustment -- If you have chronic pain, especially face and jaw pain, you may sleep better and experience less day-to-day pain if you learn to dwell less on your ailments. Researchers studied 214 people and found a correlation between negative thinking about pain and poor sleep and worse pain.
- Newly Discovered Protein May Turn Pain Off -- Researchers have discovered a protein that holds together multiple elements in a complex system responsible for regulating pain, mental illnesses, and other complex neurological problems. In other words: this protein has the capability to turn off the receptors that keep pain lingering.
- Burning Away Intractable Pain -- When a 31-year-old Marine was defusing a buried bomb in Afghanistan last December, it exploded, leaving him unconscious for nearly a month. When he woke up, his face was scarred, he was blind in one eye, he was missing half of his right arm and his left arm was paralyzed. And he was in pain. Neurosurgeons opened the patient’s spine and burned away the scar tissue to alleviate this pain.
Find a Pain Specialist
At Johns Hopkins, you don’t have to live through your pain alone. Our pain centers, programs, and clinics are made up of teams of specialists who aim to ease your pain, and allow you to live in as much comfort as possible. Please follow the links below to learn more about each of our different care centers.
- The Blaustein Pain Center
- Chronic Pain Treatment Program
- Facial Paralysis and Pain Treatment Center
- Headache Center
- Neurosurgery Pain Research Institute
- Palliative Care and Pain Program
- The Pediatric Pain Management Service
- Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Clinic (Outpatient)
- Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Program