Emotional and Motivational Brain Connections Predict Chronic Pain

Current connections between chronic pain & brain by Dr R.Miller

Dr. Rickey Miller, Psychologist

An exciting study reported in the latest issue of Nature Neuroscience from the laboratory of Dr. Marwan Baliki at Northwestern University in Chicago casts light on the changes that occur in the brain when acute pain becomes chronic. The study strongly suggests that subjects’ emotional responses to acute pain play an important role in predicting these changes in the brain. Subjects who are more distressed about their acute pain not only tend to go on to develop chronic pain but their distress actually caused changes in the brain that were observed on brain scans. To my knowledge, this is the first time we have actual observations of the changes our attitude and feelings can cause in the brain over time that can lead to the development of a chronic pain problem.

Dr. Baliki and his colleagues took brain scans of subjects with acute back pain. They also measured pain intensity…

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2 thoughts on “Emotional and Motivational Brain Connections Predict Chronic Pain

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I always like to read about new research on chronic pain. Why do studies always seem to involve chronic back pain though? There are so many other people out there with many other causes for chronic pain. Mine is TMJ disorder. Now it’s full blown fibromyalgia. Why can’t they study more systemic chronic pain too? I know for me personnally there is a huge emotional component to my pain. If I’m in a bad mood, my pain is worse. If I’m in a good mood, my pain is more manageable. If I can stay in a good, optimistic frame of mind, I can maximize my good (i.e. average pain) days. That’s what I’m focusing on now. It’s hard, but I’m learning. I don’t want researchers to figure out why we go from pain to chronic pain. I want them to figure out how to help us once we suffer from chronic pain. I know how I got here. I don’t need a brain scan to tell me that. I just need help.

    • I am in total agreeance!!! Part of me feels like medical field feel they have exhausted ways of dealing with the my specific pain cause also, so make appointments further and further apart. You couldn’t have worded it more accurately, just give me something that works. One pain psychologist told me to give up on my research and anything that involved focusing on my condition, too accept this is how it is now. With full respect, this is not something I’m prepared to do. Just last night I received an exciting email on a topic/ treatment that I hadn’t heard of ans so spent the rest of my night researching this area. I refuse to give in to the pain and do feel the link between the brain & pain warrants more research than it is receiving. Thank you for your heart felt comments.

      Health & Happiness
      Narelle

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