by Beatrice Awasthifigures by Allie Elchert Millions of Americans struggle with chronic pain. While the pain sometimes has a clear source—for instance, an arthritic joint or a damaged tendon—oftentimes, people feel pain without any obvious signs of damage at all. This can be extremely distressing, as such patients may deal with stigmatization or invalidation of their pain by others who suggest that the pain is … Continue reading Sensitization: Why everything might hurt when it looks like nothing is wrong￼
by Sabina J Haquegraphics by Jovana Andrejevic Networks in everyday life What is one of the first things people do when they join a social media platform like Facebook? They send friend requests to whomever they know. Each of those people already has their own connections on Facebook, who also have their own connections, and so on. Being an active Facebook user pinpoints an individual’s … Continue reading Graph Theory 101
For a long time, scientists did not often carefully consider sex as a variable in their research, and often worked with only male or only female animals depending on the ease of housing and handling these animals. In 2016, the NIH began requiring grant applications to justify the choice of sex of experimental animals, as part of a growing movement to consider sex as a … Continue reading Pain works differently between the sexes
The placebo effect is a puzzling phenomenon. Placebos (sugar pills or saline solutions secretly substituted for actual drugs) are commonly used in clinical trials to set a baseline against which to measure the effects of a drug. However, people in the placebo group will often show improvements alongside the treatment group. The fact that an inactive substance, such as a sugar pill, can lead to … Continue reading Your Personality May Determine How You Respond to Placebo Pills
by Emily Poulin figures by Brad Wierbowski “Have you heard of endometriosis?” As a scientist and a woman, I was embarrassed to say that I hadn’t. Although I had seen two doctors about my pelvic pain, it was a friend who first mentioned endometriosis to me. My reaction turns out to be pretty common. Although endometriosis affects about ten percent of women, many have never … Continue reading No Good Options: Fighting diagnostic and treatment challenges for women with endometriosis
by Christopher Gerry figures by Michael Gerhardt One of the sad ironies of modern medicine is that painkillers, licit and illicit alike, have brought addiction, suffering, and death to communities across the United States. The prevalence of opioid abuse in particular has skyrocketed over the past few years and shows few signs of abating. In 2014, the most recent year for which the Centers for … Continue reading Drugs, data, and public policy: What can science teach lawmakers about the opioid crisis?
by Benika Pinch figures by Kaitlyn Choi If you watched the Rio Olympics, you probably noticed that several athletes, including swimmer Michael Phelps, were covered in bizarre circular marks. These bruises were caused by cupping, a therapy that uses suction to pull skin upwards into a circular cup, with the intent of increasing blood flow and reducing muscle tension. While athletes maintain that they benefited … Continue reading More Than Just a Sugar Pill: Why the placebo effect is real
by Vivian Chou figures by Anna Maurer What do sushi and pain therapy have in common? The answer lies in a tiny protein in our bodies called TRPA1, nicknamed the “wasabi receptor.” For over a decade, scientists have been fascinated by the TRPA1 receptor, which allows us to taste the stinging, burning flavors of the popular Japanese condiment wasabi. This last April 2015, TRPA1 shot … Continue reading From the kitchen to the lab: how sushi dinners may lead to new pain therapies