Researchers have shown that patients who have chronic pain can reduce their emotional response to the pain through spinal cord stimulation.
The study results are published in the latest issue of the journal Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface.
“Our initial study provides insights into the role of the brain’s emotional networks in relieving chronic pain,” said Ali Rezai, MD, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio. “We are the first to show that therapeutic spinal cord stimulation can reduce the emotional connectivity and processing in certain areas of the brain in those with chronic pain.”
“Being able to modulate the connections between the brain areas involved in emotions and those linked to sensations may be an important mechanism involved in pain relief linked to spinal cord stimulation,” said Dr. Rezai.
The researchers studied 10 patients who were living with severe chronic leg pain who were implanted with a spinal cord stimulator to reduce their pain.
This research builds off previous findings that proposed the concept of the neuromatrix theory of pain, in which pain perception varies according to cognitive, emotional and sensory influences.
The resting default mode network (DMN) is abnormal in patients with chronic painful conditions, implicating the impact of such chronic conditions on areas beyond pain perception.
“By using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we mapped the areas of the brain involved in pain perception and modulation,” said Milind Deogaonkar, MD, Ohio State University. “If we can understand neural networks implicated in the pathophysiology of pain, then we can develop new therapies to manage chronic persistent pain.”
SOURCE: Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center