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Chronic Pain is Brain's Emotional Response To Injury: Study

Update Date: Jul 02, 2012 07:32 AM EDT
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That never-ending pain is all in the head, says a latest research.

The emotional state of a person's brain can be responsible for why different people react differently to the same injuries, says a study. While some people recover soon, others end up with a chronic pain.

Apparently, the study results have revealed that chronic pain develops when there is an interaction between two sections of the brain the frontal cortex and nucleus accumbens (related to emotional and motivational behavior). The more the communication, the more likely it is that the pain will develop in a person.

''The injury itself is not enough to explain the ongoing pain. It has to do with the injury combined with the state of the brain,'' Lead scientist Professor Vania Apakarian, from Northwestern University in Chicago, US, was quoted as saying by Telegraph.

He further said, that the emotional reaction of the brain towards an injury is directly proportional to the persistence of the pain in people, even after the injury is healed.

''It may be that these sections of the brain are more excited to begin within certain individuals, or there may be genetic and environmental influences that predispose these brain regions to interact at an excitable level.'' Prof Apakarian added.

For the study, 40 participants, all of whom had suffered an episode of back pain lasting between one to four months were observed. Their brain scans were studied for over a period of one year before concluding the results.

The research results, made it possible to predict with 85% accuracy, which individuals would go on to develop chronic pain, the report said.

Nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain, apparently teaches the rest of the brain, how to react to the outside world. It could do so with the help of an initial pain signal and make the brain develop chronic pain Prof Apakarian said.

''Now we hope to develop new therapies for treatment based on this finding,'' he added.

The research was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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