Joint Pain Forum – News you can use!
shows arthritis pain processed in brain
LONDON, March 30 (Xinhua) -- British
researchers have discovered that arthritis pain, unlike that induced as
part of an experiment, is processed in the parts of the brain concerned
with emotions and fear.
A research team at The University of
Manchester led by Bhavna Kulkarni has captured the first images of how
the brain processes arthritis pain, using positron emission tomography
(PET) scanners,science news website AlphaGalileo reported on Friday.
Previous neuro-imaging studies show that
experimentally-induced pain is processed in at least two brain
networks, collectively known as the 'pain matrix', with the 'medial
pain system' processing the emotional aspects such as pain's
unpleasantness and the 'lateral pain system' processing the pain's
intensity, location and duration.
The researchers wanted to see whether the
same applied to the clinical pain suffered by people with conditions
like arthritis, as no direct comparisons of experimental and clinical
pain had been undertaken in the same group of patients.
The researchers compare the brain areas
involved in processing arthritic and experimental pain in a group of
patients with osteoarthritis. Six female and six male patients with
osteoarthritis of the knee underwent PET brain-scanning during three
different pain states: arthritic knee pain, experimental knee pain
(when no arthritic pain was present) and a pain-free state, with each
patient also rating their perceived pain intensity and unpleasantness
on 0-100 rating scales at 10 minute intervals.
said they thought that arthritic and acute experimental pain would be
processed within the same areas of the pain matrix, but, although both
activated both the medial and lateral pain systems, arthritic pain
prompted increased activity in the cingulate cortex, thalamus and
amygdale within the medial system -- the areas concerned with
processing fear, emotions and aversive conditioning.
This suggests that arthritic pain has more
emotional salience than experimental pain for these patients, which is
consistent with the unpleasantness scores they themselves gave,
The finding that both experimental and
arthritic pains activate the medial and lateral pain systems suggests
that there isn't a unique brain network for processing arthritic pain,
according to project supervisor Anthony Jones.
The study has demonstrated the importance
of the medial pain system during the experience of arthritic pain,
suggesting it would be a good target for both new analgesics and
The body's own pain-killing chemicals --
the endogenous opioid system -- could even be a possible candidate for
modulation to target pain in the areas the researchers have identified.
Map | CONTACT