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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 67  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 25--26

Neuropathic pain: Searching for the magic bullet

Lukas Rasulic1, Vikram Singh2, MS Gopalakrishnan3, K V L N Rao2,  
1 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Belgrade, Serbia
2 Department of Neurosurgery, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Neurosurgery, Jawaharlal Institute of Post-graduate Medical Education and Research, Pondicherry, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. M S Gopalakrishnan
Department of Neurosurgery, Jawaharlal Institute of Post-graduate Medical Education and Research, Pondicherry

How to cite this article:
Rasulic L, Singh V, Gopalakrishnan M S, Rao K V. Neuropathic pain: Searching for the magic bullet.Neurol India 2019;67:25-26

How to cite this URL:
Rasulic L, Singh V, Gopalakrishnan M S, Rao K V. Neuropathic pain: Searching for the magic bullet. Neurol India [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 May 30 ];67:25-26
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Full Text

Socolovsky et al.;, have provided a comprehensive review detailing the pathophysiological mechanisms and management strategies for neuropathic pain.[1]

Brachial plexus and peripheral nerve injuries are most prevalent in the young working population, forming a significant cause of disability and decreasing the quality of life.[2] The early initiation of physiotherapy following injury plays a large role in recovery, relief from pain and prevention of complications such as formation of contractures and autonomic dysfunction.[3] Furthermore, physiotherapy might have a role in reducing the extent of cortical reorganization in the deafferented motor area by maintaining some degree of afferent input, thus relieving phantom limb pain.[4] The authors could have stressed on the importance of physiotherapy as a first line measure in pain management.

The surgical management of brachial plexus injuries has also seen considerable technological advancements over the last decade.[5] While the selection of treatment strategy is based on the nature and severity of injury, a direct nerve repair is preferred wherever possible. Autografts play an important role when the nerve ends are separated by greater than 30 mm (because decellularized allografts remain unproven in such cases). Smaller nerve gaps may be managed with tubulisation techniques or allografts. Nerve transfers have now become the standard for proximal injuries owing to their capacity to reduce the regeneration time, thereby improving the speed of end-organ re-innervation and outcomes.[6],[7] The use of epineurial repair and fibrin glue for achieving better coaptation has also led to better results. In the cases resistant to other treatment measures, the dorsal route entry zone (DREZ) lesioning has provided a good alternative.[8] Accelerated peripheral nerve repair using stem cells is also under research.[9] A detailed discussion on the surgical options and techniques would have brought these issues to the fore.

With the relative plateauing of surgical results, research on central mechanisms and neuromodulation has gained momentum. The authors provide a good overview of the experience with spinal cord and cortical stimulation. Recent research suggests that a major component of pain can be attributed to the ingrowth of sensory representation into the deafferented motor area as a result of plasticity.[10] Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI studies have shown widespread disturbances in neural networks following brachial plexus injuries. These changes involve not just the sensorimotor network, but higher networks such as the default mode network as well.[11] With increasing evidence and elucidation of these mechanisms, the role of neuromodulation in pain relief can only be expected to increase.

To conclude, the cause of pain following nerve injuries is multifactorial. The authors have, therefore, rightfully stressed on the role of multidisciplinary management. We congratulate them for providing a holistic overview of a frequently neglected, but increasingly common health issue.


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