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Somatosensory Function, Pain, and Headache

Ramandeep is an active 23-year-old. She works as a part-time nurse during the day and is studying for a postgraduate certificate in the evening. Ramandeep started to wear a bite plate at night after she began to experience jaw pain and headaches. Sometimes the pain radiated to her ear, and she would apply a hot water bottle to it to ease the discomfort. Her husband mentioned to her that he heard her grinding her teeth at night while she was sleeping. She knew then that her headaches might be from temporomandibular joint syndrome, and she went to her dentist to confirm her thoughts. In addition to the bite plate, the dentist also recommended she should continue with the application of heat, use NSAIDs when needed, and incorporate regular relaxation exercises throughout her stressful days.

  1. What effect does heat have on nociceptors so that it makes a good nonpharmacologic treatment for pain?
  2. Heat and cold treatment are both hypothesized to have an effect on the release of endogenous opioids. What are these chemicals, and why are they hypothesized to be beneficial in the body?
  3. Using your knowledge of physiology, how do NSAID analgesics function in the management of pain?

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