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Health and Disease

Congenital Analgesia: The Condition Where You Cannot Feel Pain

Pain is inevitable, whether it’s a stub to the toe or a scrape on the knee. However, this isn’t the case for all. Learn more about Congenital Analgesia and the agony of feeling no pain.

While you may feel the rush of pain through your body when you stub your toe, the feeling is not felt at all to those with congenital insensitivity to pain. Congenital insensitivity to pain or congenital analgesia is an extremely rare condition when one is unable to experience physical pain. While this may seem beneficial to some, it is in reality quite detrimental, as those with CIP are unaware of any injuries that potentially could have occurred to them. This can potentially affect the life expectancy to those affected, as many health related issues and injuries can go undetected.

Congenital insensitivity to pain is caused by a mutation on the SCN9A gene, and is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. SCN9A codes for the production of voltage gated sodium channels called Nav1.7s and when there is a mutation present, these channels are as a result affected.  Nav1.7 channels are on nerve cells, specifically on the ends of nociceptors or nerves that sense pain. When the mutation on the SCN9A gene occurs, these channels are affected, therefore affecting the individual’s ability to sense pain. 

People with congenital insensitivity to pain are able to distinguish whether something is sharp, or hot, however, they are unaware of any pain that is resulting due that specific stimulus. Due to this, people with CIP may experience bone fractures, burns, and underlying health issues. 

While there is no treatment for CIP, those affected are recommended to take annual X-rays and MRI’s, due to any possible injuries that could have occurred, as well as avoiding circumstances of self-injury. 

Congenital insensitivity to pain or congenital analgesia is a fascinating condition that affects very few individuals. Even though no treatment is available yet, many professionals in health care continue to research and bring more insight and understanding to this condition today. 

References

“Congenital Insensitivity to Pain.” Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/12267/congenital-insensitivity-to-pain.

“Congenital Insensitivity to Pain.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 June 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congenital_insensitivity_to_pain.

“Life Without Pain .” :: Medical Discovery News :: http://www.medicaldiscoverynews.com/shows/260-pain.html.

“Nav1.7.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Apr. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nav1.7.

“Treatment: Is There a Treatment(s) for Congenital Insensitivity to Pain?” ThinkGenetic, http://www.thinkgenetic.com/diseases/indifference-to-pain-congenital-autosomal-recessive/treatment/4530.

Bharathi Arivazhagan, Youth Medical Journal 2020

By Bharathi Arivazhagan

Bharathi Arivazhagan is a student interested in the fields of public health and molecular biology.

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