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Medicine Science

New Sensory System Found In the Skin 8

Posted by timothy
from the new-organ-to-be-announced dept.
mmmscience writes "Researchers have found a new sensory system in the skin that is completely separate from the traditional nerve network that gives us the sense of touch. The new system, comprising sensory nerves found on blood vessels and sweat glands, is not nearly as potent, but does allow people to sense temperatures and textures. The research suggests that the system may play a role in chronic pain disorders such as migraines and fibromyalgia, conditions whose causes remain a mystery."
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New Sensory System Found In the Skin

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  • I wonder if this relates to "normal" people who have hyperhydrosis?

    This also explains why botox is effective at limiting sweating...

    It makes you wonder what else is influenced by these low level nerves.

  • The most interesting thing in the (short) article was that this is related to Congenital Insensitivity to Pain, the malady documented in the excellent film, A Life Without Pain [alifewithoutpain.com]. That explains something that made no sense -- how can these folks feel enough to pick up objects, but not feel that the object is a red-hot cinder?

    I hope this is a first step towards not just discovering a cause of "phantom" pain... I hope it's a step towards eliminating *all* pain. I seem to end up on the bad side of the Slashdot

    • by Urkki (668283)

      The most interesting thing in the (short) article was that this is related to Congenital Insensitivity to Pain, the malady documented in the excellent film, A Life Without Pain [alifewithoutpain.com]. That explains something that made no sense -- how can these folks feel enough to pick up objects, but not feel that the object is a red-hot cinder?

      I hope this is a first step towards not just discovering a cause of "phantom" pain... I hope it's a step towards eliminating *all* pain. I seem to end up on the bad side of the Slashdot community when I say this, but I think "congenital insensitivity to pain" is the next phase of human evolution. We already have several adaptations that have no advantage without a big brain -- decade-long adolescence, non-reproductive grandparents, non-seasonal sexual receptivity. I think eliminating pain is a very logical next phase.

      It's an adaptation that wouldn't be possible without modern medicine, with antibiotics to prevent infection, and non-intrusive diagnostics to find that broken bone you don't feel. In fact, we probably need to progress further, to replace natural pain-dependent systems with technology. You wouldn't feel a heart attack coming on, but you might have a circuit installed that monitors your critical systems. You wouldn't have to croak "Call 911, I'm having a heart attack!" Your heart would call for help itself.

      I'm in my 40s, and I know some day I'm going to be afflicted with the painful conditions that are inevitable this side of full-body replacement. If I've got some sort of inoperable tumor, and know it, why should I feel the pain? Or become an opioid zombie? Pain is a biological anachronism, and I look forward to the day it is banished from the human experience entirely.

      Entirely? It never will be. First of all there are the poor who not only experience most of the pain (if you could find a measure for amount of pain) but can't afford any advanced technology to replace pain as key survival mechanism.

      Second, even if pain could be removed selectively, childhood without sense of pain would produce an adult without necessary reflexes to live a normal active life. OTOH, if your life only happens in virtual reality, then you don't experience pain anyway, so why remove it? In that

    • Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with anhidrosis (CIPA) [wikipedia.org] was the subject of a re-run of the TV show "House" episode "Insensitive" (S3 Ep14) [wikipedia.org] that I saw just last night here in Australia. It aired first in Feb 2007 so would have been written and produced in late 2006; so, 3 years from art to real life.

      Or, in my case, one day!

    • by DEmmons (1538383)
      i have a friend who does medical work among some tribes here where leprosy still occurs. his patients could tell you all about a life without pain. i understand what you're saying, that pain is just an indicator and we could replace it with some new technology that is less, er, painful... i'd be very, very nervous to go down that road.
    • by glop (181086)

      The doctors can do it on-demand now (well more or less).

      So say you have incredible pain due to some tumor they can target the pituitary gland with a gamma knife and after a few weeks the pain is relieved so that you don't need to many drugs to avoid pain.
      Apparently this has been done since the 50s but before the gamma knife the side effects were pretty big. There does not seem to be any side effects with the gamma knife.

      It's really great for people who benefit from it although apparently nobody really knows

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