JACKSON, MS--(Marketwire - Aug 13, 2012) - Injuries and other health conditions have long been known to spark chronic pain; however, chronic pain does not always develop in people who sustain the same injuries or suffer from the same health conditions. A new report, published in Nature Neuroscience, asserts that emotional behavior may be involved in the onset of chronic pain. An article released by U.S. News further considers this possibility, which is rooted in neurological activity. Neurosurgeon Adam Lewis believes that this study is valuable in that it sheds light on how attention to emotional factors can assist in alleviating chronic pain through the right treatment options.
The article asserts that the brain regions concerned with emotional and motivational behavior show higher levels of communication in patients who suffer from chronic pain.
"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," explains A. Vania Apkarian, one of the authors of the study and a professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "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."
The study utilized brain scans to capture the interaction between the frontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens. A year later, the participants were again analyzed. Using these scans, researchers were able to predict the emergence of chronic pain at an accuracy of 85 percent. These results reveal that the emotional state of a patient is just as important as their physical state.
"The article on chronic pain and the link to the emotional reaction to injury is an important one for addressing the treatment of chronic pain," asserts Adam Lewis. "It shows that a patient will often develop depression and anxiety in response to unrelenting pain. The article supports the common observation that anti-depressant medications are often very effective in treating back pain, fibromyalgia, and radiating pain to the arms or legs. Medications that treat anxiety, depression, and compulsive disorders are an important treatment option for alleviating chronic pain. Combining these medications with traditional anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxer medications for neck and back pain can really improve patient outcomes and speed recovery from a variety of injuries."
With between 30 and 40 million adults in the United States suffering from chronic pain, Adam Lewis believes this discovery has the potential to assist millions of patients in better managing their condition.
Adam Lewis of Jackson, Mississippi, is a neurosurgeon. Passionate about providing the highest quality patient care possible, as well as learning the latest medical advances and integrating cutting edge treatment techniques into his patient care plans, Adam Lewis has a strong background in neurological research, which he completed at Harvard Medical School.