Last Updated on August 24, 2022 by Nurse Vicky
How Pain Affects the Brain
A new study has shed light on how pain affects the brain. Researchers studied rats that experienced neuropathic pain and compared their learning rates to controls.
The results revealed that chronic pain patients had reduced gray matter and were less able to learn and adapt to new situations than their non-pain counterparts.
This new study may help explain how pain affects cognitive flexibility in humans. It’s important to note, however, that the effects of chronic pain are not irreversible.
The sooner you get treatment for your chronic pain, the better. The brain is largely responsible for processing sensory information and evaluating it.
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that regulate the transmission of neuronal signals.
Presynaptic neurons release neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft, where they bind to their respective receptors on postsynaptic neurons.
Neurotransmitters are classified according to their function and molecular structure, and they can either influence pain transmission or enhance it in certain areas.
The cortex, which controls pain messages, is the part of the brain responsible for attaching meaning to the situation.
Pain in soldiers in battle displays lower levels of pain than that of a civilian in an accident.
The difference seems to be related to the context in which the pain occurs. It’s also believed that the cortex is involved in deciding which parts of the body are affected by the pain.
A study published in Neuroscience in 2010 highlighted the relationship between pain and fear in patients suffering from traumatic events.
Chronic pain sufferers are often plagued by unrelenting, throbbing pain, and have trouble sleeping and making decisions.
The scientists who studied chronic pain found that a specific clue is responsible for these symptoms.
Chronic pain disrupts the functioning of neurons, which in turn wear out and alter their connections.
It could eventually lead to permanent damage to the brain. Fortunately, this new research has opened the door to developing treatments that may improve the symptoms of pain.
The study also identified a greater activation of cortical regions in chronic pain sufferers.
This is important because it explains both the vague nature of chronic pain and the emotional changes that accompany this condition.
The psychological basis of pain may provide more information about chronic pain.
The image below illustrates widespread activation in certain areas of the brain in chronic pain sufferers.
These areas of the brain also control the emotional and cognitive parts of the brain. The spinal cord relays
pain messages to the brain in two ways. The first pathway is referred to as the ascending pathway, and it sends pain messages to higher brain centers.
The second pathway, known as the descending pathway, involves the limbic system and locus coeruleus.
The brain’s thalamus is the center for higher thinking and determining emotions, while the descending pathway is responsible for sending signals from the spinal cord to the rest of the body.
Research shows that chronic pain can negatively impact sleep. Chronic pain disrupts the natural sleep cycle and interferes with short-term memory, as well as affects the ability to concentrate and pay attention.
The brain’s endocrine system is the key to healing, and chronic pain sufferers should seek help immediately.
Medications, cognitive behavioral therapy, and natural pain relief programs are available to help.
But even these are not sufficient if the pain is chronic and persistent. In addition to the physiological effects of chronic pain, neuroplasticity in the brain has been linked to the treatment of chronic pain.
Chronic pain is associated with changes in various neural areas responsible for learning and memory.
Decreased hippocampal neurogenesis has been found to extend persistent pain.
Research has also shown that chronic pain is accompanied by cognitive and affective deficits.
Further, decreased hippocampal neurogenesis is associated with negative emotional states and memory deficits.
Moreover, chronic pain patients may experience emotional problems as a result of structural changes in the corticolimbic structures.
These changes may also affect long-term functional changes. The changes in these areas may have profound effects on a patient’s life.
The effects of chronic pain are not always immediately evident. But when you understand the brain’s response to pain, you can take steps to manage the condition.
The pain you experience may be chronic or episodic. The treatment will depend on the cause and duration of the pain.
What happens to the brain during extreme pain?
Does pain affect memory?
Can you get arthritis in your brain?
Which part of the body does not feel pain?
Tell us anything you know about How Pain Affects the Brain
Remember your health is wealth
Please, let us know your thoughts in the comments section.