Pain usually warns us that there is a possibly damaging stimulation and that we need to act fast to prevent the damage to our body. However, the useful pain sometimes becomes pathologic.
The neuropathic pain, caused by injury or damage of peripheral or central part of nervous system, is characterized by abnormal pain perception – allodynia (pain is triggered by usually painless stimuli) and hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to painful stimuli and more pronounced answers to them). There is often also spontaneous pain without any stimulation.
The mechanisms underlying the development of neuropathic pain are not completely understood. The neuropathic pain may be partially explained by pathophysiological changes after neuronal injury. However, it is often present as a symptom of another disease, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart attack, or cancer. Moreover, it can be triggered by drugs, viral infection, toxins, or even treatment (the neuropathic pain may appear as a side-effect of cytostatic treatment, which limits the use of cytostatic drugs for cancer therapy).
The common pain-killers are usually not efficient to suppress the neuropathic pain, which makes it only hardly treatable. Therefore, we study mechanisms of pain reception (nociception) under normal and neuropathic conditions to better understand mechanisms of neuropathic pain and develop more efficient therapy.