Scientists have captured the brain signals of chronic pain for the first time. The results are the first step toward a new treatment for people with chronic pain.
The study involved four patients with chronic pain due to stroke or amputation (also known as phantom limb pain). Doctors inserted electrodes into the participants’ brains. Patients also received a device with a button that they had to press as soon as they experienced pain. They had to fill in how strong the pain was.
With the help of an algorithm, the scientists analyzed the data. Find out how to recognize the brain’s signal for chronic pain. For example, they discovered that acute or short-term pain produces an entirely different type of brain activity. According to the researchers, this partly explains why analgesics are less effective against chronic pain.
The study could help develop new treatments for people with chronic pain. Developments for this are at an early stage. For example, studies are underway on the use of deep brain stimulation in patients with chronic pain. This treatment method, in which electrodes in the brain emit electrical signals, is currently used for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and movement disorders, among others.
The new study was published Monday in the Scientific Journal Natural neuroscience.
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