Summary: Public release date: 5-Feb-2008
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Contact: Marla Paul
Chronic pain harms the brain
CHICAGO -- People with unrelenting pain don't only suffer from the non-stop sensation of
throbbing pain. They also have trouble sleeping, are often depressed, anxious and even have
difficulty making simple decisions.
In a new study, investigators at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine have
identified a clue that may explain how suffering long-term pain could trigger these other pain-
Researchers found that in a healthy brain all the regions exist in a state of equilibrium. When
one region is active, the others quiet down. But in people with chronic pain, a front region of
the cortex mostly associated with emotion "never shuts up," said Dante Chialvo, lead author
and associate research professor of physiology at the Feinberg School. "The areas that are
affected fail to deactivate when they should."
They are stuck on full throttle, wearing out neurons and altering their connections to each