Medically proven: heat lessens pain, it isn't a placebo

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by KelB, Jul 5, 2006.

  1. KelB

    KelB New Member

    Fascinating article on the BBC News web site today. A medical study has found that heat actually has a physiological way in which it lessens pain. It isn't just "psychological comfort", it is actually deactivating the pain at a molecular level.

    Explains why our hot packs, hot baths and hot water bottles are so popular round here to ease the aches and pains!

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    Heat 'blocks body's pain signals'

    Heat has long been used as a way of relieving period pain
    Hugging a hot-water bottle can have a similar effect to a painkiller by effectively "deactivating" pain at a molecular level, scientists say.

    Researchers from University College London used DNA technology to monitor heat and pain receptors within cells.

    They say temperatures over 40C (104F) switch on internal heat receptors which block the effect of chemical messengers that cause the body to detect pain.

    Their research was presented to the Physiological Society conference.

    The researchers wanted to look at why heat relieved internal pain such as period cramps and colic.

    They used DNA technology to make both heat and pain receptor proteins in the same cell and watching the molecular interactions between the heat receptor TRPV1 and the P2X3 pain receptor.

    The team found that the heat receptor can block the pain receptor.

    This pain message is activated by ATP when it is released from damaged and dying cells.

    By blocking the pain receptors, TRPV1 is able to stop the pain being sensed by the body.

    'Like painkillers'

    Dr Brian King, of UCL Department of Physiology, who led the research said the molecular data showed heat could relieve pain for up to an hour.

    "The pain of colic, cystitis and period pain is caused by a temporary reduction in blood flow to or over-distension of hollow organs such as the bowel or uterus, causing local tissue damage and activating pain receptors.

    "The heat doesn't just provide comfort and have a placebo effect.

    "It actually deactivates the pain at a molecular level in much the same way as pharmaceutical painkillers work.

    "We have discovered how this molecular process works."

    He said people would not choose drugs over heat for short-term pain relief.

    Drug development

    But Dr King added that the findings could help develop better pain relief medication in the future.

    "The focus of future research will continue to be the discovery and development of pain relief drugs that will block these P2X3 pain receptors.

    "Our research adds to a body of work showing that P2X3 receptors are key to the development of drugs that will alleviate debilitating internal pain."

    Dr Liz Bell, of the Physiological Society, said: "It was thought heat just had the general comfort factor, or an effect on blood circulation.

    "But this research gives an insight into how heat actually works.

    "It will be important in developing a better generation of effective pain-killing drugs."

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    Full story here (non-commercial news site):
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/5144864.stm
    [This Message was Edited on 07/05/2006]
  2. pam_d

    pam_d New Member

    I've often used a heating pad and avoided using pain meds---the heat itself was enough.

    Good info!

    Pam
  3. musikmaker

    musikmaker New Member

    I knew there was a reason I love my heating pad! I am going to go get it right now.
  4. Jamarz

    Jamarz New Member

    I believe it too!! I have never had to take any stronger than Ultram for pain and I have a moist heating pad that I use everyday in the winter. It loosens my back muscles so I can then stretch. I also soak 2x a day for 15-30 minutes in my hot tub/spa set at 102 degrees with hydrotherapy jets(who needs a massage therapist?).

    Another treat if one can take the heat is to use a theracane(know what that is?) smear it with Tiger Balm and then rub your back with the smeared knob. At the same time, you can use the thercane to work those tight knots and trigger points out. AHHHHH. I hear my Balm calling. However, never use tiger balm and a heating pad together as you can seriously burn yourself.

    Good night and good luck!!

    How do I get rid of that shake ur booty smiley? I didn't hit that one. These smilies are tricky!!
    [This Message was Edited on 07/05/2006]