Acute pain is adaptive, but chronic pain is a global challenge. Many chronic pain syndromes are peripheral in origin and reflect hyperactivity of peripheral pain-signaling neurons. Current treatments are ineffective or only partially effective and in some cases can be addictive, underscoring the need for better therapies. Molecular genetic studies have now linked multiple human pain disorders to voltage-gated sodium channels, including disorders characterized by insensitivity or reduced sensitivity to pain and others characterized by exaggerated pain in response to normally innocuous stimuli. Here, we review recent developments that have enhanced our understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms in human pain and advances in targeting sodium channels in peripheral neurons for the treatment of pain using novel and existing sodium channel blockers.
Keywords: congenital insensitivity to pain; erythromelalgia; induced pluripotent cells; ion channels; nociceptors; painful peripheral neuropathy; paroxysmal extreme pain disorder; pharmacogenomics; tetrodotoxin-resistant; tetrodotoxin-sensitive.