• Sweden edition
 
SPONSORED ARTICLE
How Swedish research allows doctors to 'see pain'

How Swedish research allows doctors to 'see pain'

Published: 01 Jun 2012 18:36 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Jun 2012 18:36 GMT+02:00

Torsten Gordh, PhD, MD, Professor of Pain Medicine at Uppsala University Hospital and his team, and the PET center, have come up with compelling evidence of a major medical breakthrough.

In simple terms, Gordh’s team has come up with a method of pinpointing and highlighting areas of chronic pain in the body, which has previously been notoriously difficult to spot, and hence treat.

Until now doctors treating people with whiplash and other similar injuries, have more or less had to trust the patient to show them where they are in most pain and how serious it is.

“We have been working with this for seven or eight years. Originally it started when I was approached by Dr Mats Fredriksson, together with Clas Linnman, psychologists who wanted to study the effects on the brain of whiplash injuries,” Gordh tells The Local. “Our method means we can give patients a better and safer diagnosis,” he says.

In Sweden alone, patients suffering from chronic pain number some 20% of the population, or thirty five thousand people per year, while more than 50 million Americans live with chronic pain caused by various diseases or disorders, which gives some idea of the scale of the problem and the potential benefits of a solution.

While around 80 per cent of those affected are cured from their pain during the first year, the remainder will have continuous pain over many years. It is this 20% who have the most to gain from Gordh’s work. Multiply this by the number of people affected in the United States for example and you have an idea of just what a breakthrough this amounts to.

Using a form of sensor, the doctor will be able to “see” the affected area as it is highlighted. A tracer, deprenyl, is first injected into the bloodstream. The substance then groups together at the site of the pain, marking the inflammation then doctors can pinpoint the site through the use of a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan, rather like an x-ray for pain.

Results so far have been highly promising. The team of researchers injected the tracer into 39 volunteers, 17 of whom were free of any symptoms of pain, while 22 had prolonged neck pain after being involved in car accidents. Those patients who were suffering already showed high levels of enzyme in the area of pain

Although whiplash is perhaps the most obvious injury, the findings can be applied to several other problem areas.

“We can apply the same research to more than just whiplash injuries,” says Gordh. “For example we are working with people who have ankle joint pain, using the same tracer and then the PET and looking at longer term injuries, where people who have not got over the constant pain despite the initial damage being repaired.”

This emphasizes another less obvious side by-product of chronic pain. As most sufferers turn to drugs for treatment, the number of cases of addiction has risen considerably in recent years. At least 65,000 Swedes are estimated to be addicted to drugs, and among patients with chronic pain, it is around 3-18 percent.

This carries a high social and financial price tag. Depression, often associated with pain, and backache, are the diagnoses that account for the largest share of the costs of sickness leave in Sweden and it has been estimated that chronic pain costs Swedish society 87 billion kronor ($12 billion) per year.

Given this cost, it is perhaps of little surprise that much of the work of Fredriksson, Gordh and their team is sponsored by Swedish insurance company Länsförsäkringar. Importantly, this support has been given without any preconditions.

With the cost of insurance claims for whiplash injuries, both genuine and fraudulent, run into many millions, a more accurate way of diagnosing problems and treating them better will be of great benefit for the industry as a whole.

Although the work is still at the research stage, it is not hard to see why Gordh’s work could be so significant for so many people. Doctors will be able to make better and safer diagnoses, the cost to business and society can be considerably reduced, and perhaps most important of all, millions of chronic pain sufferers could experience a better diagnosis and treatment.

Article sponsored by Study in Sweden

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

NEWS_NOT_YET_IMPORTED
Today's headlines
National
Stockholm bomb investigation to cease
The suicide bombing took place in 2010. Photo: TT

Stockholm bomb investigation to cease

Sweden’s Security Service (SAPO), is expected to announce that it will stop its core investigation into a suicide bombing in Stockholm four years ago. READ  

National
Chainsaw man destroys house in family feud
The man used a chainsaw to destroy most of the Lidköping home. Photo: Shutterstock

Chainsaw man destroys house in family feud

A man in central Sweden has gone on a rampage with a chainsaw after a family housing dispute took an unexpected turn. READ  

National
Man frames beggar with stolen tablet computer
The beggar was detained for almost 24 hours after the accusation. Photo: TT

Man frames beggar with stolen tablet computer

A man in southern Sweden has landed in hot water after he stole a tablet computer, gave it to a beggar, then reported her to the police. READ  

Stockholm 'sub hunt'
Military seeks 'patience' in sub search
The Swedish Armed Forces have sent out 200 troops. Photo: TT

Military seeks 'patience' in sub search

Sweden's military says it has no plans to downsize the search for a possible foreign submarine and is prepared to force any suspect weapon to the surface of the sea, "with weapons if necessary". READ  

Stockholm 'sub hunt'
Sub hunt: 'There is something out there'
Former navy officer Bosse Linden in Vaxholm. Photo: Maddy Savage

Sub hunt: 'There is something out there'

Stockholm's archipelago is the focus of the biggest military operation in Sweden since the Cold War. The Local is in the region's capital, Vaxholm, to see what residents make of the drama. READ  

Presented by CurrencyFair
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
CurrencyFair co-founder Brett Meyers

CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers

Tired of losing money when you send cash back home? Join other expats in Sweden who avoid bank fees and hidden charges by sending money internationally with CurrencyFair, an online marketplace where secure transactions are faster and cheaper. READ  

European Union
Extremist saves Sweden Democrats' EU group
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson. Photo: TT

Extremist saves Sweden Democrats' EU group

The EU group that bound several Eurosceptic parties including the Sweden Democrats has been saved by an MEP from a far-right Polish group, just a week after it appeared to have crumbled, according to a UK press report. READ  

Stockholm 'submarine' hunt
Timeline: Mystery 'submarine' in Stockholm
Sweden's Armed Forces are out in force after reports of a foreign vessel in the Stockholm archipelago. Photo: TT

Timeline: Mystery 'submarine' in Stockholm

The world has had its periscope on Sweden since the Swedish military launched an extensive hunt for what is rumoured to be a damaged Russian submarine in the Stockholm archipelago. Here is the timeline of events so far. READ  

Business & Money
Profit leap for Swedbank
A branch of Swedbank in Malmö. Photo. TT

Profit leap for Swedbank

Swedbank has seen its profits rise higher than expected. READ  

New coalition
Sick pay U-turn from Sweden's new coalition
Stefan Löfven has changed his strategy on sick pay. Photo: TT

Sick pay U-turn from Sweden's new coalition

Small businesses won't face rising sick pay costs, following a policy reversal from Sweden's new coalition government. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
National
Sweden deploys troops over underwater threat
Gallery
People-watching: October 19th
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Blog updates

21 October

Denna & den här (The Swedish Teacher) »

"?Denna? or ?den hr?? Swedish language students often ask question about different pronouns. One pronoun that especially..." READ »

 

19 October

Getting it (Blogweiser) »

"Follow Joel Sherwood on FB Few watch baseball in Sweden. This is excellent when your team loses..." READ »

 
 
 
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
National
A Touch of Scandinavia: Reindeer in the kitchen
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: October 17th - 24th
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Lifestyle
Sweden's The Bridge to become 'more Danish'
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
What's on in Sweden: October 10th - 17th
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Society
My Swedish Career: A French fashionista in Sweden
Society
Swede's anti-bully Facebook tale goes viral
Society
Have you seen Sweden's viral subway cancer campaign?
National
Isis: Swedes linked to Turkish prisoner swap
National
Should Swedes be banned from buying sex abroad?
Gallery
Fredrik Reinfeldt's leaving presents
National
Five Swedish TV shows you shouldn't miss
Gallery
A tool belt, a casserole, and a book. Fredrik Reinfeldt's parliament gifts
TT
Lifestyle
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
TT
National
Sami reindeer herders win mine reprieve
Gallery
Property of the Week: Gamla Enskede
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Politics
Ten new minister faces you should know
Tech
First womb transplant baby in world born in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 5th
National
What's on in Sweden
National
Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' protection
Society
Interview with Geena Davis: 'I want to be in a Swedish movie'
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

992
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN