Researchers developed a new type of pain relief that involves wrapping a small strip of material around nerves to prevent them from sending pain signals to the brain. If this prototype passes all necessary safety and experimental tests, it could one day replace toxic opioids for patients suffering from chronic pain.
Why It Matters?
An estimated 20% of Americans live with chronic pain, and millions more deal with severe acute pain following injuries, illness, and surgery.
Doctors commonly prescribe opioids to relieve pain, but while these medications are effective, they’re also addictive and regularly misused. The need to develop better alternative pain management techniques is high.
Who Developed This Device?
This Stretchy device is developed by the researchers of Northwestern University and was published in the July 1, 2022 issue of the Journal Science.
How Does It Work?
It’s a small, soft, stretchy device that can be implanted under a patient’s skin to gently wrap around nerves responsible for troubling pain signals. Typically, when such signals reach the brain, that’s when you feel a prick, ache, burn, or other types of painful sensation.
Once in place, the material — about the thickness of a sheet of paper — basically employs a cooling effect to numb those nerves, blocking unwanted pain signals from traveling to the brain at all. Think of it like how your fingers start to feel numb when they’re super cold. If they hurt before, they probably don’t anymore.
What Happens Once It Completed Its Task?
Once the device has fulfilled its duties, it dissolves naturally into the body like an absorbable stitch. No surgical extraction is required.