Today’s Solutions: September 25, 2022

In response to the ongoing opioid epidemic, medical researchers are developing viable alternatives to pain management. While opioids have proven effective at managing pain, they come with a dangerous risk of addiction. Doctors and researchers are seeking medical alternatives to reducing pain, without medication if possible. 

A team from Northwestern University, PA has developed an implant that blocks pain signals by cooling the nerves. 

Icing it 

After procedures such as amputations, nerve grafts, or spinal decompression surgeries this implant could be inserted into a relevant site on the body to treat a patient’s acute pain. 

“We are optimistic that this represents a very promising starting point for an engineering approach to treating pain,” said Prof John Rogers of Northwestern University in Illinois, US, a co-author of the research.

The device is still in development and could take some time to apply to most patients, but it does show promise. It consists of a pump, an external control system, and an implant made of pliable, rubbery polymer. The implant is wrapped around the relevant nerve and has a liquid coolant and dry nitrogen flow through it. The liquid evaporates and lowers the temperature around the nerve, reducing the pain. 

“The net effect when cooling is applied to a nerve is in blocking of electrical signals,” said Rogers, noting similarities to the numbing sensation in fingertips that can occur in cold weather.

One of the best parts of this implant, besides its effectiveness, is that it is not addictive. Also, it is made from biodegradable and water-soluble materials, meaning that it breaks down in the body after use and only requires one procedure to be implanted. 

So far, the device has been tested on lab rats and will still need to go through more trials before reaching humans.

Source Study: Science — Soft, bioresorbable coolers for reversible conduction block of peripheral nerves (science.org)

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

What you need to do to make your office more sustainable

Chances are it takes quite a lot of resources to keep your office running. Think about it. The office needs lighting and heat, the ...

Read More

These little tweaks will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle

While it may not be so hard to start living a healthier lifestyle, maintaining one can be very challenging. Having said this, here are ...

Read More

How this city in Illinois plans to stop homelessness by the end of the year

Less than a decade ago, more than 700 people were homeless in the small, 150,000 person city of Rockford, Illinois, about 90 miles northwest ...

Read More

5 ways to boost your microbiome this summer

There's no debating the importance of a healthy gut for overall well-being—and now, more than ever, staying in optimal health is top of mind ...

Read More