Medical Minute 9-20: Treating Pain

By: Eyewitness News Email
By: Eyewitness News Email

Taking time to enjoy the tulips reminds former gardener Cora of her passion.

"I had a terrific job," said Cora.

But that was taken away from her 14 years ago when a car slammed into hers, the driver distracted by a map.

Cora said, "The next thing I remember, he was standing and shouting and thinking that he had killed us."

Cora was rushed to the hospital with whiplash trauma. She was soon released when doctors didn't see anything wrong with her x-rays. Once home, she began having severe headaches and neck pain and has been in constant pain ever since, unable to work or get back to gardening. With one in five people suffering from chronic pain, it's a scenario doctor Torsten Gordh sees often.

Gordh said, "There's been great difficulty for the patient and difficulties for the doctor because we haven't understood the pain problem in depth. We have only had a description, and that makes it difficult to work with."

He's part of a team at Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden that's developed a first of its kind tool to literally "see" where the pain is coming from.

A tracer marked with positrons is first injected into the bloodstream. the substance then pools together at the site of the pain, marking the inflammation. doctors can pinpoint the site through the use of a pet scan.

Gordh said, "It's like a discovery of sort of x-ray for pain."

One that could lead to better treatments and one day help people like Cora.

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