Pain is a complex, multidimensional issue. Its mechanisms are under intense study by scientists, and its management presents significant challenges for clinicians. Pain research at Legacy involves investigations of the neural mechanisms that cause different types of neuropathic pain. The principal investigator is José L. Ochoa, MD, PhD, DSc, a neurologist and neuroscientist who directs the Neuromuscular Unit.
Much of Dr. Ochoa's current research is focused on neuropathic pain associated with diabetes. People with diabetes often develop painful damage to nerve tissue (neuropathy) at some point in the course of the disease. Dr. Ochoa is investigating the mechanisms of normal and abnormal sensations that stimulate pain due to nerve damage caused by decreased blood flow and high blood-sugar levels. The ends of pain-sensitive nerves, called nociceptors, become irritable and send pain signals to the brain. A complete understanding of how these nociceptors and their interactions with sympathetic nerves actually work remains unknown, and Dr. Ochoa's work seeks to reveal new knowledge in this area.
"This research has great clinical relevance", says Dr. Ochoa. "Once nociceptor function is better understood, new therapeutic ways can be developed to control the pain associated with diabetic neuropathy, resulting in an improved quality of life for people with diabetes."
For more information
Jose Ochoa, MD, PhD, DSc
Director, Neuromuscular Unit
Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center
1040 NW 22nd Avenue, #600
Portland, OR 97210