Congenital insensitivity to pain or CIP is a medical condition in which the person afflicted with the condition does not feel pain. This has been the inspiration for several films including a film ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota’, released recently.
Congenital insensitivity to pain or CIP is a rare medical condition and around the world, there have only been about 20 cases of CIP reported in scientific literature. It is also known as congenital analgesia and is caused by a certain type of gene mutations that reduces the ability to feel physical pain. People born with this condition don’t feel pain in any part of their body, even when they get injured or differentiate even extreme temperatures and do not sweat.
The possible causes of this condition are-
- Increased production of endorphins in the brain in which case, naloxone may be a treatment.
- Voltage-gated sodium channel SCN9A (Nav1.7) disorder. Patients with such mutations are congenitally insensitive to pain and lack other neuropathies.
The clinical feature of disease are as follows-
- Cognition and sensation are otherwise normal
- Patients can still feel discriminative touch (though not always temperature)
- There are generally no detectable physical abnormalities.
- Children with this condition often sustain oral cavity or fractures to bones.
- Unnoticed infections and corneal damage due to foreign objects in the eye are also seen.
- Lack of ability to feel pain is actually a disadvantage as it tends to cause an accumulation of wounds, bruises, broken bones and other health issues that may go undetected.
- Children with CIP are more vulnerable to burn injuries because they don’t feel the pain of getting burnt. They may also get mouth or finger wounds due to repeated self-biting.
- Some patients with CIP also display a predisposition to infections and a greater incidence of corneal abrasions (scratched eyes) due to a lack of tear production.
- Complete loss of the sense of smell (anosmia) is another potential effect of congenital insensitivity to pain.
Congenital insensitivity to pain is found in Vittangi, a village in Kiruna Municipality in northern Sweden, where nearly 40 cases have been reported. Reports also indicate that the south Indian state of Telangana has a relatively high number of patients with CIP.