EFIC 2019 : networking for fighting pain


By Cinzia Bolschiero,

science journalist (UGIS, Italy)

 Ten EUSJA journalists attended  recently one of the biggest European congresses. And here is the first blog that has been sent by our members to EUSJA web page.

             The Congress, EFIC 2019 held between 4 – 7 September in Valencia, Spain, is the largest scientific congress on pain in 2019, bringing together the most recognised experts in the field of pain medicine to exchange knowledge, ideas and the latest advances in the field. Several journalists attended it and ten were from EUSJA, its member associations in Croatina, Hungary, Italy, Finland, Romania, Spain,

The highlights at the European Congress EFIC 2019 included presentations on the latest advances in neurostimulation; the relation between gender and migraines; how pain is experienced differently between different age-groups; how the evolution of digital health care will impact pain treatment; and whether there is an opioid crisis in Europe, but not only this.  New European research into objective measurement of pain could be a ‘game-changer’ for patients.Until now, a patient’s experience of pain has always been subjective, relying upon their personal feeling and their communication of the experience. However, a research project by the international consortium IMI-Pain Care is aiming to identify biomarkers for pain. Biomarkers, such as proteins or hormones, can enable objective measurement of a particular disease state. Biomarkers for pain would be a complete game-changer, potentially providing us with an objective measurement of pain for the first time, allowing us to compare the severity of conditions and the efficacy of treatments and services. The experts moreover explained also how the multi-modal pain treatment for cancer patients, as well as continuous assessment and understanding the risk factors for opioid misuse, will reduce the potential harm of opioids in cancer care.

In EFIC 2019 there were over 3500 delegates from 37 States. The European Pain Federation’s biennialCongress in Valencia contributed to give evidence to the importance of networking. Many european projects and trials were presented. The European Pain Federation (EFIC) is a multidisciplinary professional organisation in the field of pain research and medicine. Established in 1993, EFIC constituent chapters represent Pain Societies from 37 European countries and close to 20,000 physicians, basic researchers, nurses, physiotherapists, psychologists and other health care professionals across Europe, who are involved in pain management and pain research. It has been said also how linking brain stimulation to artificial intelligence (AI) can open up a world of new possibilities in the treatment of pain and many other conditions. In the future, 10-20 years ahead, the AI software will act as a ‘small brain’ in itself, so it can first recognise abnormal patterns in the brain (ie identifying that a person is feeling a certain level of pain, or stress – or perhaps is suffering alcohol cravings because they are passing a bar – then the AI will automatically adjust the stimulation design atprecisely the right time and in the right circumstances to modulate the brain signals, alleviate the discomforts and also create deep learning in the brain.

In EFIC 2019 doctors and researchers also gave some new data about migraines: it affects around 15% of the general population (around 1.2 bn people globally) and the disorder is three times more prevalent in women than in men.

Photo: copy right Cinzia Bolsciero

 

About Viola Egikova

Viola Egikova - science journalist based in Moscow, president of Intellect, former Vice-President of the European Union of Science Journalists' Associations, Programme Coordinator of All Russia Science Festival