Friday, April 5, 2019

Do Genes Control Your Pain Tolerance?

A new study found that an individual's sensitivity to pain could be a result of changes to certain genes. Studies have found that a mutation in the SCN9A gene is responsible for 3 rare pain disorders. This specific gene is responsible for sending sodium channels to the central nervous system which then closes pain receptors to stop a person's pain. For two of the disorders, the sodium channels either open easily or don't close fully, and cause and individual to suffer crippling pain. The third disorder is a result of the SCN9A gene producing a protein can't function properly, and results in individuals unable to feel pain.

Scientist have also been studying a family of 6 in which all the members experience no pain as a result of a mutation in the ZFHX2 gene. This mutation is also connected to other genes that are involved in pain signaling. How different gene mutations affect an individual's pain tolerance is being studied in hopes of finding a way to reduce pain in chronic pain patients. I think that people who experience no pain will never learn something from experience for instance touching a hot burner. A child who experiences pain only needs to learn to not touch a hot burner once because after that one time they will not do it again, whereas a child who doesn't experience pain could potentially touch a burner multiple times because they don't experience the pain associated with touching a hot burner. I think that being able to find a way to help people with chronic pain would be an amazing advancement in medicine that could help many people. 

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