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Sensory System Case Study

A definition of neuromodulators and how they work

A neuromodulator is a chemical agent that influences the behaviors of neurons or effecter cells by modulating their interaction with neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. There are several types of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin (Bryant & Knights 2011, p. 123).

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In clinical circles, the concept of neuromodulator activity is a relatively new one because conventionally, neuromodulators have been known to be a form of neurotransmitters. However, their main difference is the fact that neuromodulators cannot be broken down to metabolites. Neuromodulators work by modulating neurons in the central nervous system through a relaxation of nerves. The neuromodulators work by preventing the contraction of muscles by preventing the release of chemicals that cause muscle contraction (VanMeter and Hurbut 2010).

Through the relaxation of muscles, pain is minimized. Pain is often felt from the inhibition or excitation of neurons. Nueromodulators works towards avoiding an occurrence of either of the two events (Craft 2011, p. 149). Often, neuromodulators are released along nerve axons by infiltrating the intercellular tube to modulate neuron activity. This process is often experienced through a transmission process where a small quantity of neuron is released in the central nervous system to regulate a diverse population of other neurons (VanMeter and Hurbut 2010). Occasionally, the neuromodulators pass through the cell membrane and achieve the same effect.

From a broader point of view, neuromodulators work by changing the natural pain transmission process by regulating a large amalgamation of neutrons (which cause the natural pain experience). For the natural effectiveness of neuromodulation, Vanmeter and Hurbut (2010) suggests that, “neuromodulators must act not only on the input system but must change the transformation itself to produce the proper contractions of muscles as output” (p. 16).

Surgical treatments available for the management of chronic visceral pain

Chronic visceral pain often occurs when there is a strong pain associated with an internal organ malfunction (Burchiel 2002, p. 82). For instance, when damage to an internal organ is detected, pain receptors send signals to the brain or spinal cord, thereby causing chronic visceral pain. However, unlike other types of pains, it is often difficult to detect the exact location of the organ causing visceral pain. Surgery is considered one way of treating visceral pain. Surgery is the incision of an instrument into the patient’s body to correct visceral pain discomforts (Howard 2000, p. 94).

Dorsal surgery is a common surgical procedure that is employed in the treatment of visceral pain. The surgical method works by distorting the visceral pain pathway before it transcends to higher sensory centers such as the brain or spinal cord. Usually, this surgical procedure is used to treat visceral pain associated with pelvic pains (Howard 2000, p. 261). Endoscopic sympathectomy surgery is also another medical procedure that can be used to treat chronic visceral pain because it is used to destroy long chains of nerve ganglia that cause visceral pain. Sympathetic neuroablation surgery is another surgical option in the treatment of visceral pain.

This surgical method works by blocking splanchic nerve endings to deter the occurrence of secondary pains associated with visceral pains. Cumulatively, the main functions of dorsal surgery, endoscopic sympathectomy surgery and sympathetic neuroablation surgery is to destroy the pain pathways (for visceral pain) to create relief for the patient. However, such surgical procedures are often employed when the source of visceral pain is identified (Vadivelu 2011, p. 549).

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Bryant, B & Knights, K 2011, Pharmacology for health professionals, 3rd edn, Mosby Elsevier, Sydney.

Burchiel, K 2002, Surgical management of pain, Thieme, Sydney.

Craft, G 2011, Understanding Pathophysiology- ANZ adaptation, Mosby, Elsevier, Australia.

Howard, F 2000, Pelvic pain: diagnosis and management, Elsevier, Sydney.

Vadivelu, N 2011, Essentials of Pain Management, Springer, New York.

VanMeter, K & Hurbut, R 2010, Microbiology and infection control for health professionals, 4th edn, Pearson Education, Australia.

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