Chronic Pain Rewires the Brain

Researchers find suffering constant pain can cause permanent changes
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2008 5:34 AM CST
A doctor looks over a CT scan of a brain. Researchers studying the brains of chronic pain sufferers have found that the constant pain they endure changes the brain's wiring permanently. (AP Photo/Adele...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Researchers studying the brains of people suffering from chronic pain have found that  an area of their cortex is permanently active when it should sometimes deactivate, Reuters reports. That part of the brain, usually associated with emotion, stays on "full throttle" at all times. Researchers say this could explain why people who endure chronic pain are also more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and shortened attention spans. 

The study, to be published in the Journal of Neuroscience, indicates that the brains of those with chronic pain may change permanently as neurons wear out from constant activity. "If you have chronic pain, you have pain 24 hours a day," a researcher explained. "That permanent perception of pain in your brain makes these areas in your brain continuously active."