Summary: How Chronic Pain Gets Into Your Head Page 1 of 3
How Chronic Pain Gets Into Your Head
Long-Lasting Pain May Also Explain Depression and Other Mental Problems: Study
By RADHA CHITALE ABC
News Medical Unit
Feb. 6, 2008 --
For many, the impact of chronic pain may not be limited to the pain itself; it could also negatively affect
their mental state.
New research by scientists at Northwestern University in Chicago may explain why people who have
chronic pain also suffer from seemingly unrelated problems such as depression, anxiety, lack of sleep
and trouble focusing.
"The pain is in your head," said Dr. Dante Chialvo, lead author of the study and associate research
professor of physiology at the Feinberg School of Medicine. "The whole head."
The study showed that people with chronic pain have a portion of the brain that is always active: the
region associated with mood and attention. This constant activity rewires nerve connections in the
brain and leaves chronic pain sufferers at greater risk for mental problems.
Chialvo said that a healthy brain exists in a state of equilibrium, with about the same number of regions
turned on and off. As certain regions are recruited for various tasks, other regions turn off to maintain the