The somatosensory system helps us understand the world around us through touch, pressure, pain, temperature, position, movement and vibration that arises from our muscles, joints, skin and fascia. Somatosensory input is encoded by our sensory nerves, decoded in the spinal cord, and relayed to the brain. As Canada Research Chair in Chronic Pain and Related Brain Disorders, Dr. Yves De Koninck aims to learn more about how this process works to better understand chronic pain.
He and his research team are trying to figure out what is going on when a patient develops pain hypersensitivity after an initial injury. De Koninck has already developed photonics, electrophysiology and pharmacological approaches to probe and manipulate pain circuits in unprecedented ways. Now, he and his team are using these tools to identify the source of information miscoding during chronic pain and to develop new therapies that do not rely on opioids for pain relief.