Many thousands of people suffer from chronic pain that seems impossible for care providers to confirm by any test, X-ray or image – a prime example being the neck pain, headaches, etc. that often follow a whiplash trauma.
But pain researchers at Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden have developed a system using a PET scan and an injected tracer substance (Deprenyl, aka selegiline) to “see” the source of pain (inflammation) and its location(s) in the body.
Injected into the bloodstream, the positively-charged electrons in Deprenyl will ‘pool’ where there is inflammation, so that pain sites can be captured in an image, explains lead researcher Prof. Torsten Gordh, PhD, MD – something that he has compared to “an X-ray for pain.”
Dr. Gordh’s ongoing trials,* funded by a grant from a large Swedish insurance company, have so far proved the usefulness of the scanning technique in scores of patients – mostly relating to whiplash pain. “It is seen as a breakthrough for a large group of patients who previously felt suspected of lying,” he says, particularly since it is not uncommon for symptoms to appear long after an accident.
Dr. Gordh says he is confident that this diagnostic tool will prove much more broadly useful for pain location and treatment as their work proceeds (e.g., for verifying and locating post-surgical pain, low back pain, fibromyalgia pain).
Source: Uppsala University Hospital news release, Apr 2011; Ivanhoe Medical Breakthrough report, Sep 19, 2011.
* Citation: “Elevated [11C]-D-Deprenyl Uptake in Chronic Whiplash Associated Disorder Suggests Persistent Musculoskeletal Inflammation,” PLoS ONE.