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Do not touch

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Watched this days ago and it keeps haunting me … that young woman’s poor arm, red and blotchy, with “do not touch” written on it. What a weird “blessing” to have chronic pain that is so severe it has a visible effect. (Visible problems get taken seriously. Invisible pain often does not, tragically.)

I’ve gotten quite cynical about TED talks (because reasons), but this one is solid. It’s refreshing that he’s a little awkward, rather than being a “slick” presenter. And yet he still does a fine job, and is clearly both compassionate and expert. The video is a solid overview of one way that the nervous system can pitch a fit after an injury, with a compelling case study. Many serious chronic pain problems are just less dramatic (and less visible) versions of this.

Specifically, this case is probably “complex regional pain syndrome,” a not-nearly-rare-enough condition in which severe sensitization sets in quickly after an injury, causing severe pain without any noxious stimuli. In this case, there’s a happy ending — which doesn’t usually happen.

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