New research has shown why some people suffer from chronic pain and why others never experience long-lasting pain. Apparently, with pain, it's all in your head.
Pain develops in two sections of the brain- frontal cortex and the nucleus accumben. These sections of the brain process emotional and motivational behavior. The more communication between these two parts of the brain, the more pain felt.
The finding provides a new direction for developing therapies to treat intractable pain, which affects 30 to 40 million adults in the United States.
"For the first time we can explain why people who may have the exact same initial pain either go on to recover or develop chronic pain," said A. Vania Apakarian, senior author of the paper and professor of physiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Just by looking at the interaction between the two parts of the brain, researchers were able to predict which patient will suffer from chronic pain with an accuracy of 85 percent.
The study included a total of 40 participants who had chronic back pain. Brain scans were conducted on the patients, once at the beginning of the study and three more times during the study period.
According to the researchers, pain intensity depends on how the brain reacts to the injury. If the brain reacts to the injury in an emotional way then the person will feel more pain even after the injury is healed.
"It may be that these sections of the brain are more excited in certain individuals, or there may be genetic and environmental influences that predispose these brain regions to interact at an excitable level," Apkarian said.
Medical Daily had earlier reported that the personality may affect posture and back pain.
"The injury by itself is not enough to explain the ongoing pain. It has to do with the injury combined with the state of the brain. This finding is the culmination of 10 years of our research," Apakarian said.
Pain is expensiveResearchers say that this study will help them find new therapies for chronic back-pain
"Chronic pain is one of the most expensive health care conditions in the U. S. yet there still is not a scientifically validated therapy for this condition," Apkarian said.
According to estimates, some $600 billion is spent on treating pain in the U.S.
The many risks for chronic back pain, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, include aging, injury or trauma, lack or exercise or in some cases over-exercise, obesity, stress, medical conditions like osteoporosis, certain abnormalities, poor sleep, lower elasticity of scar tissue in the spine.