Pain in the elbow, shoulder, knee, lower back, and various other joints is relieved by adhesion of pyramidal thorn patches. To elucidate the pain relief mechanism induced by the patches, we established a quantitative method for estimating the pain reduction and investigated the brain regions that change in association with pain relief. We first attempted to quantify the pain relief using transcutaneous electric stimulation (TCES) and a visual analog scale (VAS), and then applied near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to the prefrontal cortex, including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). We also examined the salivary oxytocin levels, which are thought to reflect oxytocin secretion levels from the posterior pituitary in the brain. Application of pyramidal thorn patches to pain regions decreased the pain degree estimated using TCES and VAS. Oxyhemoglobin levels were likely to be decreased in the left DLPFC on the basis of NIRS measurements during patch treatment, suggesting that the left DLPFC is involved in pain relief. On the other hand, the salivary oxytocin levels varied widely. A potential reason for the varying salivary oxytocin levels is its utilization in the pain region as an analgesic agent. Our results suggest that the left DLPFC will become a target brain region for pain therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas