Brain Scan Research Could Unlock Chronic Pain Answers

Work is still limited despite generous new grant

It turns out that a migraine, IBS, and fibromyalgia have something in common: They all involve chronic pain for the persons who suffer from them. A new database that looks over hundreds of brain scans is being used to help researchers find similarities and the difference between not only these afflictions, but anything that has chronic pain conditions associated with it.

The research is being handled at the UCLA Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress. The seeking of answers is being handled under the Pain and Interception imaging Network (PAIN), and the effort is considered the first to create a standard database for brain imaging associated with pain. As of now, 14 institutions within the North America and Europe regions are participant, with more likely to follow in short order.

A $300,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health is the fuel that is pressing the fire which stokes the flames of interest in solving these chronic-pain associations.

“We are now recognizing that chronic pain is a brain disease, and if we want to treat it more effectively, we need to better understand and treat the mechanisms in the brain that are driving it,” said Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine in the divisions of digestive diseases, physiology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and executive director of the Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress at UCLA.

Mayer stated that the imagery that will result from the work is promising to facilitate further breakthroughs in the genesis of chronic pain, as well as ways to cope with the affliction. Still, research has to be limited for the time being. The institution can, as of now, only support a smaller study strain. The lack of access to larger pools of information has to wait.

That does not mean that proper work cannot be handled. “Like a fingerprint, researchers will be able to pick out distinct patterns from the scans of individuals with each pain condition and, combined with additional information provided by the network, assess how chronic pain manifests differently between men and women, across the lifespan, or between conditions,” said Dr. Bruce Naliboff, a professor in the departments of medicine and psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Geffen School of Medicine and co-director of the Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress.


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