Researchers have known for several years now that video games can distract people from pain. Now one virtual-reality game, developed for burn patients, has added a conceptual boost to this idea; the action takes place in a snowy landscape populated by penguins and snowmen. Wounded soldiers who have played the game (wearing VR goggles to help block out the sight of their burns being treated) report a reduction in pain of 30-50%. "Patients reported feeling less pain when playing Snow World, and had greater range of motion in their burnt limbs as their muscles relaxed. Less pain medication was also required, meaning patients were lucid for longer periods of time." In this video, one wounded vet talks about how the game has helped him.
Justine Dream Experiment (NSFW)
You Walk Wrong. "It took 4 million years of evolution to perfect the human foot. But we’re wrecking it with every step we take." [Via]
Doctors successfully removed a two-inch nail from a man's genitals yesterday. Doctors pulled the nail out of his urethra on their first attempt and later said the man could have died if the object had not been spotted on X-ray. The man had admitted himself to SMC on Sunday night with extreme abdominal pain and was unable to speak. The man told doctors the last thing he remembered was having something sprayed in his face and being fondled by one of his assailants before he blacked out. [more inside]
Is fibromyalgia a useful way of categorizing the illnesses experienced by several million Americans? The doctor who pioneered the study and characterization of the illness no longer thinks it exists as a distinct entity, and other experts agree. People who've been diagnosed with the disorder experience real pain, and are comforted by being able to put a name to their illness, but their doctors often think they'd have been better off without the diagnosis. [more inside]
When the working poor turn to addictive drugs to manage pain so they can keep working, that's "moral weakness, not a public health problem.":
Every morning before sunup, Trapp drives 120 miles.... "This methadone makes you feel like a human being again," Trapp says. With disability rates as high as 37 percent in coal-mining areas such as Buchanan County, the region has many people with long-term pain management needs. As is the case with lots of aging miners, Trapp's addiction to pills began in a doctor's office, not a back-alley drug deal.... The clinic's counseling staff members say that many patients need to be on some sort of drug to cope with severe, long-term pain and that methadone has made them functional. And for those who lack insurance or access to more personalized care, it is often the only affordable option.[more inside]
Richard Paey Speaks - An interview with the paraplegic man sentenced to 25 years in prison for treating his own pain, but now out after a full pardon by the Florida Governor. [more inside]
Robin Prosser was a former concert pianist and systems analyst who suffered from an autoimmune disease similar to lupus for over 20 years. The disease left her in constant pain and made her allergic to most pharmaceutical painkillers. Only medical marijuana brought her relief, but last spring the DEA seized her medicine. Unable to cope with the chronic pain any longer, she committed suicide on October 18th. [Via Andrew Sullivan.]
Drugs Banned, Many of World’s Poor Suffer in Pain "Millions of people die in pain because they cannot get morphine, which is legal for medical use in most nations." [Via TalkLeft.]
Recognizing Pain Management as a Fundamental Human Right. These pieces from the journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society argue that under-treated chronic pain is becoming a public health crisis which must be addressed. But a warning to pain doctors in the U.S. who prescribe opioids in doses that seem high to narcotics agents and prosecutors: “Be afraid.” [Via Hit & Run and TalkLeft.]
EEEK! (YouTube) [more]
Pay to shock a man, or to prevent him from being shocked. MeFi's own bleucube wears an electric dog collar for a study in...well...shocking a man, or preventing him from being shocked. Shall good or evil prevail - charity or malice? It's all on the line. And by "on the line," I mean "available for $1-4 a pop." 10% of the proceeds go to charity. The other 90% go to being awesome. Via Projects.
"Doctor, it hurts when I do that." Doctors and patients agree - doctors are lousy when it comes to recognizing, diagnosing and treating pain. The AMA developed this free Continuing Medical Education tool (requires Flash) to help docs learn and understand how to deal with pain - but other folks, folks who are now in pain or might someday be in pain, might find it quite interesting as well. All docs in California have to complete this seminar or a similar one by the end of 2006 to get relicensed; the hope is that this will help the docs and the patients who have to deal with pain on a daily basis.
The Pain in the Brain. (NYT)
Some British nurses want patients who are intent on harming themselves to be provided with clean blades so that they can cut themselves more safely.
You got owned... an entertaining study of life's little mishaps on video. Some you've seen, some you may not have. (wmv)
The Painful Truth. "The Iraq war is a new kind of hell, with more survivors - but more maimed, shattered limbs - than ever. A revolution in battlefield medicine is helping them conquer the pain."
Upon this desiccating planet, will I employ religion to increase pain threshold. Why? So I may get my freak on.
No pain, no gain, they say, and when it comes to real pain, the inverse is true as well. "We now have research indicating there's a memory of chronic pain," said Dr. Doris K. Cope, director of chronic and cancer pain for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. It changes the genic code sometimes, it changes the biochemistry, and it causes new proteins to be formed." Or in other words, the more pain you have, the more pain you have. (More on this.) It's no wonder, then, that more money is spent on pain relief than any other medical problem, and that there has been so much pain research and so many clinical trials revealing such painful facts as redheads feel more pain, men feel less pain, and that there's a genetic difference between tough guys and wimps. (Much more pain inside.)
I cried when I hurt myself, until I met the girl who felt no pain.
DEA wants to reclassify low grade painkillers as morphine equivilants. The DEA, in all it's wisdom, has decided that the next target on the "war on drugs" is hydrocodone, the most commonly used prescription pain killer in the country. "Ah," you say..."but surely there's congressional oversight for that sort of radical change in the Drug Schedule." But you'd be wrong. Funny old world when the budget and staff keeping getting bigger and bigger and the only way they can win a battle is to chase the arthritic.
The war on drugs is unfairly targeting doctors who prescribe legal pain medication to their patients who suffer from chronic pain, according to a spokeswoman of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. She was speaking at a press conference of patient and physician advocacy groups, sponsored by the Pain Relief Network, in support of Dr. William Hurwitz. Dr. Hurwitz has been indicted and imprisoned for prescribing high doses of opioid pain relievers, as have other pain-management doctors. But these crackdowns may end up doing more harm than good to patients in chronic pain. [More inside.]
Being snubbed socially provokes exactly the same brain response as being physically hurt, say US researchers.
Fish have feelings too. Or so says Dr. Sneddon of the University of Liverpool. Her research into "trout trauma" is leading her to believe that fish don't care much for hooks and barbs.
“Our research demonstrates nociception and suggests that noxious stimulation in the rainbow trout has adverse behavioural and physiological effects. This fulfils the criteria for animal pain.”I'm all out of sorts now. My dad loves to fish. He taught me how to fish. I like to fish with my dad. And now I'm a fish-hurter?!?
...implants a device in his body that delivers agonizing pain at the push of a button, and over the course of many days attempts to wear him down through a disturbingly simple process of psychological warfare. He is seated in a chair with four bright lights shining in his face, and the captor attempts through painful coercion to make him say that there are, in fact, five lights. Every time he refuses to say there are five lights, he is drilled with pain. In essence, he is expected to deny the reality described by his own eyes, and surrender the will of his mind to the definition of reality offered by his captor. Four Lights, a thesis 
Inside the JFK medical files. Very interesting article from Sunday's NY Times (reg. req'd) about the long-term health of John F. Kennedy, from World War II to his death. Corresponding Yahoo News item here also. [more inside...]
What is pain? It can get pretty technical. There are several different theories. Regardless of what you think pain is, it turns out that men can deal with it better than women. *Flexes muscles*
Famous Self-Injurers. "Johnny [Depp] has a series of seven or eight scars on his left forearm where he has cut himself with a knife on different occasions to commemorate various moments or rights of passage in his life ... 'It was really just whatever [times when he hurt himself]--good times, bad times, it didn't matter. There was no ceremony. It wasn't like "Okay, this just happened, I have to go hack a piece of my flesh off"' ... 'My body is a journal in a way.'" On this website are accounts self-afflicted injuries from Fiona Apple, Richey Edwards, Christina Ricci and more.
"Put your hand in the box." A fun loving duo from Germany has created a version of the classic arcade game Pong that lets you punish your opponent's hand with sensations such as heat, punches and electroshocks of varying duration delivered through a "Pain Execution Unit". Remember: Fear is the mind-killer. (from Wired)
Since I recently suffered a back injury, I have a new appreciation of ergonomically correct workstations. Are these the workstations of the future?
Genetic engineering leaves mice impervious to pain. By removing a protein called "DREAM", scientists were able to create rodents that didn't mind extreme heat, pressure and inflammation. This could provide hope for those suffering, or a strange removal from the experience of living, and classic human traits like bravery, strength, volition, and empathy, depending on your view.
Sigh. Apparently it's cruelty when humans hunt and eat "animals," but not when other "animals" do it to each other. (Basic biology flashback: humans are animals!) This is what happens when a species supersaturates its environment. Biological imperative begins to collapse and such furiously futile exercises as "pro-rat protests" are perpetrated in the name of something called ethics (not to mention free publicity).
Cruel and unusual? "Expert witnesses testified that the brief delays give the body time to recover and increase the chance the person will feel pain." What a crock... I wonder if the 3 year old baby he killed and dismembered felt any pain? The punishment should fit the crime. Although the death penalty doesn't deter crime, if we punished those in the same manner that they commited the murder, then maybe criminals would think twice... then again, maybe not.
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