Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler

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Smoke clears around source of added pain

One of the worst injuries a person can suffer is to their spinal cord. The effects of the injury depend, of course, on severity, but also on which vertebrae is damaged. According to new research, there is evidence showing that pain is worsened in people with spinal cord injury by a substance well known for the damage it causes to humans: cigarette smoke.

The news will hopefully provide more motivation to those disabled by a spinal cord injury to give up smoking if they have not already done so. A professor of neuroscience and biomedical engineering involved in the research said the new finds show that "smoking increases pain in patients with spinal cord injuries."

A neurotoxin in cigarette smoke called acrolein is known to activate pain sensors and is now linked to neuropathic pain anywhere in the bodies of spinal cord injury victims. Researchers have demonstrated that the substance intensifies pain by activating pain receptors in nerve fibers.

The research has already been available online, but is to be published in the Journal of Neurological Sciences in August.

One of the co-authors said it has in the past been "reported that people with spinal cord injury-induced chronic neuropathic pain" experienced more pain when smoking cigarettes and a lessening of pain when they stopped smoking. The new research pinpoints acrolein as a source of the problem.

Researchers are hopeful that their findings will lead to new and more effective ways to mitigate pain in people with spinal cord injuries.

If you or a loved one has suffered a disabling injury that prevents you from working, you can discuss with a qualified attorney the process of appealing a Social Security Disability benefits denial.

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