Study: Chronic Pain Is All In Your Head
File under “More news we don’t want to hear”: researchers at Northwestern University have determined that chronic pain is all in our heads, literally. How else to explain the fact that two people can have the same injury and one ends up with chronic pain while the other is pain-free? Eureka Alert reports that when researchers used longitudinal brain imaging study to track study participants with a new back injury, they found that chronic pain is more likely to be felt by people whose two sections of the brain — related to emotional and motivational behavior — talk to each other. The more they communicate, the greater the chance a patient will develop chronic pain. In fact, based on observed communication between between the frontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens, the researchers were able to predict with 85 percent accuracy which participants would go on to develop chronic pain. A. Vania Apakarian, senior author of the paper and professor of physiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said the more emotionally the brain reacts to the initial injury, the more likely the pain will persist after the injury has healed. “It may be that these sections of the brain are more excited to begin with in certain individuals,” he said. “Or there may be genetic and environmental influences that predispose these brain regions to interact at an excitable level.” Which takes us back to this: The Latest Treatment for Chronic Pain: Don’t Think About It.