Tag Archives: neuroscience

To treat back pain, look to the brain not the spine

To treat back pain, look to the brain not the spine | Aeon Essays – September 2017 by Cathryn Jakobson Ramin

For patient after patient seeking to cure chronic back pain, the experience is years of frustration. Whether they strive to treat their aching muscles, bones and ligaments through physical therapy, massage or rounds of surgery, relief is often elusive – if the pain has not been made even worse.

Now a new working hypothesis explains why: persistent back pain with no obvious mechanical source does not always result from tissue damage.

Instead, that pain is generated by the central nervous system (CNS) and lives within the brain itself.   Continue reading


Connections in the Brain: It’s All About the Astrocytes

Connections in the Brain: It’s All About the Astrocytes – OCT 17, 2017 By Brenda Kelley Kim

When it comes to brain function, it’s all about the connections. The brain contains billions of neurons that communicate with each other.

This network of cells has to be able to connect and share messages, otherwise, the entire body is disrupted since the brain is the command center for everything we do.

Neurons are the workhorses of the brain, but they aren’t the only cell in the picture.   Continue reading

How neurons grow and connect – for science nerds

How neurons grow and connect – for neuroscience nerds (not me):

‘Simple, But Powerful’ Model Reveals Mechanisms Behind Neuron Development

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have now uncovered new insights into the regulatory network behind neuron growth. – Scripps Research Institute

Johns Hopkins Scientists Chart How Brain Signals Connect to Neurons

Scientists at Johns Hopkins have used supercomputers to create an atomic scale map that tracks how the signaling chemical glutamate binds to a neuron in the brain. The findings, say the scientists, shed light on the dynamic physics of the chemical’… – Johns Hopkins Medicine

Physiologic Effects of Pain on the Endocrine System

The Physiologic Effects of Pain on the Endocrine System – Free full-text PMC4107914 – Pain Ther. 2013 Dec – by Forest Tennant

Severe pain has profound physiologic effects on the endocrine system.

Serum hormone abnormalities may result and these serve as biomarkers for the presence of severe pain and the need to replace hormones to achieve pain control.

Initially severe pain causes a hyperarousal of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal system which results in elevated serum hormone levels such as adrenocorticotropin, cortisol, and pregnenolone.

If the severe pain does not abate, however, the system cannot maintain its normal hormone production and serum levels of some hormones may drop below normal range.   Continue reading

Testosterone to treat central sensitization

A novel use for testosterone to treat central sensitization of chronic pain in fibromyalgia patients – ScienceDirect – August 2015


  • Testosterone is effective therapy for fibromyalgia.
  • Low/deficient testosterone levels are linked to a high risk for chronic pain states.
  • Novel mechanisms by which testosterone is likely to down-modulate pain signals
  • Mechanisms involving testosterone are linked to central sensitization.

Continue reading

Filling-In, Spatial Summation, and Radiation of Pain

Filling-In, Spatial Summation, and Radiation of Pain: Evidence for a Neural Population Code in the Nociceptive System – Free full-text PMC2804406 – J Neurophysiol. 2009 Dec

The receptive field organization of nociceptive neurons suggests that noxious information may be encoded by population-based mechanisms.

Electrophysiological evidence of population coding mechanisms has remained limited.

However, psychophysical studies examining interactions between multiple noxious stimuli can provide indirect evidence that neuron population recruitment can contribute to both spatial and intensity-related percepts of pain. Continue reading

Do Nav1.7 inhibitors work for neuropathic pain?

What are Nav1.7 inhibitors and how are they used in the treatment of neuropathic pain? – August 2017 – By McKenzie C. Ferguson, PharmD, BCPS

Nav1.7 is a voltage-gated sodium channel isoform encoded by the SCN9A gene.

The Nav1.7 channel is normally expressed in the dorsal root ganglion neurons, trigeminal neurons, and their small-diameter peripheral axons

Mutations in these isoforms have been associated with several pain disorders, including erythromelalgia, paroxysmal extreme pain disorder (PEPD), congenital insensitivity to pain (CIP), and painful peripheral neuropathy.   Continue reading

Chronic Pain Causes Brain Damage

Functional Reorganization of the Default Mode Network across Chronic Pain Conditions – PLoS One. – Sep 2014

Here we use resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate functional changes in patients suffering from chronic back pain (CBP), complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and knee osteoarthritis (OA).

We isolated five meaningful resting-state networks across the groups, of which only the default mode network (DMN) exhibited deviations from healthy controls.

All patient groups showed

  1. decreased connectivity of medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) to the posterior constituents of the DMN, and
  2. increased connectivity to the insular cortex in proportion to the intensity of pain.  Continue reading

Pain Tolerance and C-reactive protein

C-reactive protein and cold-pressor tolerance in the general population : PAIN – July 2017

Pain and inflammation are related: systemic inflammation may lead to a variety of pain states, and, in turn, persistent pain causes an upward adjustment of proinflammatory mediators that sometimes elicit a prolonged low-grade immune response, leading to long-lasting, subclinical inflammation.

The cytokines that are produced during inflammatory responses are the main stimulators of the production of acute-phase proteins, specifically C-reactive protein (CRP).

C-reactive protein is a nonspecific systemic marker of infection, inflammation, tissue damage, malignancy, and autoimmune disease.  

Continue reading

Study sheds new light on how body processes pain

How does the body process pain? Study sheds new light – Medical News Today  by Ana Sandoiu – June 2017

Currently available pain medications have limited efficacy and numerous side effects. New research, however, provides deeper insights into how our bodies process pain, paving the way for an innovative, more effective way of targeting chronic pain.

According to recent estimates from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as many as 25 million people in the United States live with daily pain, and 23 million of the country’s adults have more severe pain.

Previous efforts to develop more effective analgesics have been stalled by our limited understanding of the mechanisms that allow nerves to sense and transmit pain signals,” Dr. Bunnett says.   Continue reading