Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Feinberg School of Medicine research - Chronic Pain hurts the brain.

Medical News Today which is featured on the left of this blog, has an article The Brain is Harmed By Chronic Pain. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/96328.php?nfid=51982

Dr Lorimer Moseley and others have shown that chronic pain harms cortical areas of the brain which have no relation to pain and up till now it was not known how this happens. Doctors Baliki, Geha, Apkarian and Chialvo from the Feinberg School of Medicine suggest that long term pain alters the balance of areas of activity in the brain. Imaging studies have shown that some areas of the brain are more active at rest and less active when the person is active. This is known as the default mode network (DMN). These (DMN) areas decrease in activity when a task is being performed. This research was conducted with chronic back pain patients. It showed that the default mode network ,during task performance by chronic back pain patients, had "reduced deactivation in several key (DMN) regions." (The Journal of Neuroscience, February 6, 2008). these findings indicate that chronic pain has an impact on overall brain function and not just function involving pain.

Dr Chialvo explains this failure of the brain to "deactivate" in the Medical News Now article by saying, "in people with chronic pain, a front region of the cortex mostly associated with emotion "never shuts up." The relentlessness of chronic pain is thought to be harmful to the brain. It is also explains what is now known about chronic pain's tendency to become spontaneous (in the absence of input).

These findings, to my mind, lend weight to the need to stop the relentless pain and the absolute imperative of using brain retraining methods to stop the spontaneous message of pain. Remember only the brain can decide we have pain.

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