Glial Cells Activation Results In Pain-amplifying Effect

Glial Cells Activation Results In Pain-amplifying Effect  by James Anderson, November 12, 2016

Pain is not just a matter of nerves.

Non-neuronal cells, the glial cells, are also involved in clinically relevant pain models, and their activation is sufficient to amplify pain

The sensation of pain occurs when neural pathways conduct excitation generated by tissue damage to the spinal cord, where the nociceptive information is extensively pre-processed.

From there, the information is transmitted to the human brain, where the sensation of “pain” is finally created. This has been the general belief.  

Glial cells are the commonest type of cells in the human brain and spinal cord.

They surround neurons but are distinct from them and play an important supporting role – for example, in material transport and metabolism or the fluid balance in the brain and spinal cord.

Glial Cells Activation Pain Phenomena

However, when glial cells are activated, by pain processes, for example, glial cells are themselves able to release messenger substances, such as inflammatory cytokines.

Glial cells therefore have two modes: a protective and a pro-inflammatory mode.

The activation of glial cells results in a pain-amplifying effect, as well as spreading the pain to previously unaffected parts of the body.

For the very first time, our study provides a biological explanation for this and for other hitherto unexplained pain phenomena in medicine,”

Neuroinflammatory Diseases

neuroinflammatory diseases of the brain, environmental factors and even the person’s own lifestyle can lead to activation of glial cells.

Glial cells are an important factor in ensuring the equilibrium of a person’s neuroinflammatory system.

The study results give grounds for speculation that improvements in a person’s lifestyle could have a beneficial impact upon this system and ensure that they generally suffer less pain or “minor niggles”

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3 thoughts on “Glial Cells Activation Results In Pain-amplifying Effect

  1. Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA

    I just took a peek at the original article. This is very exciting stuff! If it pans out, it could very plausibly explain CRPS and fibromyalgia/myalgic encephalitis. What a blessing to sufferers that would be: the term “all in one’s head” would be transformed from epithet to a whole different level of science.

    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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      1. Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA

        I wonder…I had always thought it was (in my own case) psychological…maybe not, then!

        I have C-PTSD. As a result of repeated exposure to inflicted pain/abuse since fetal life, whenever I feel pain or threat of pain, I dissociate. If I emerge from the dissociative state and pain persists, I dissociate again. I have always believed that there is such a thing as somatic memory of previously experienced pain, but I had the idea that the psychological trauma kept the pain “alive.” Now I’m seeing that there might be much more to the tissue memory thing. In NLP training we learned to talk to tissues during hypnosis, to explain to them that this pain was once a very important and protective response to trauma, and now that it’s safe, it’s OK to let the pain go. This worked for other people, but not for me. I think it’s because the initial trauma began in utero, while these cellular systems were under construction. Having never had a fully developed neural network, there isn’t a “normal” baseline to return to. So I guess “checking out” is the best I can get.

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