Feeds

Heat eases pain: official

Science backs Old Wives again

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Got a painful stomach cramp? Stick a hot water bottle on it, and smile in the knowledge that science is on your side. A group of physiologists at University College, London, has proven that heat can reduce internal pain.

The research, which will be presented at the Physiological Society's annual conference, unravels the molecular processes at work, and shows that when applied to the skin, heat can actually de-activate pain sensors.

Dr Brian King, from UCL's department of Physiology, said: "The pain of colic, cystitis and period pain is caused by a temporary reduction in blood flow to or over-distension of hollow organs such as the bowel or uterus, causing local tissue damage and activating pain receptors.

"The heat doesn't just provide comfort and have a placebo effect – it actually deactivates the pain at a molecular level in much the same way as pharmaceutical painkillers work. We have discovered how this molecular process works."

A molecule called adenosine tri-phosphate, which can act as a neuro-transmitter and neuromodulator, is released by damaged (i.e. dying) and dead cells. It is used as a fuel by the body, but it also activates the P2X3 pain receptors, causing the sensation of pain.

If heat receptors, called TRPV1, in the same region are activated by the application of heat of over 40°C to the skin, they can block the signals from the P2X3 receptor, thus stopping the body from feeling any pain for up to half an hour.

Dr King says although the pain relief is only temporary, the work demonstrates that the P2X3 receptor is key to the development of new pain-killing drugs. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.