Author Mel Pohl
“This abstract is from an article in a recent edition of Science. It discusses “spinal memory” and opioids and asserts that opioids dampen pain temporarily but also erase the spinal memory trace. When pain registers in a nerve, it is like turning a light switch on. Ideally, when the pain passes, the light switch should turn itself off. Unfortunately, in the case of chronic pain this switch is stuck in the “ON” position. You experience pain long after the painful event has passed. The article advocates the use of high dose opioids to dampen pain and at the same time erasing the memory of the pain. The pain switch, like a light switch, is turned “OFF,” and the nerve is no longer continuously stimulated sending erroneous pain signals to the brain.
In my book, A Day without Pain (Revised Edition), I discuss the many facets of pain and I advocate for the concept of pain recovery, where the individual devises coping skills to deal with pain instead of using opioid painkillers. I discuss many complementary and alternative therapies to help the sufferer to do so. The use of high doses of opioids targeting the spinal nerves, in such a way as to erase spinal memory might be a step in the right direction to avoid the occurrence of chronic pain after surgery or an injury. I’m all for eliminating acute pain; however, I do not advocate routine and long-term use of opioids for chronic pain unless they are shown to improve function. I hope that with more time and research science can discover even more about pain and how to cope with it without using opioids. Opioids often cause significant side effects and negative effects which limit their effectiveness for long term treatment of chronic pain. I will continue to follow the emerging science and see where it leads, as should you, if you or someone you love lives with chronic pain. As always, I wish you A Day without Pain.