Pain – Where Does It Hurt? Is It In Your Head?

In Brain Circuitry, Brain General Structure and Function, Brain Science, Endocrine System, Senses and Perception by Brainy Days Ahead

Pain is the most common reason people seek medical care, and the persistent discomfort reported by about 20 percent of Americans is difficult to trace to a source. Researchers at Michigan Medicine examined data from the brains of 1,079 participants in the Multidisciplinary Approach to the Study of Chronic Pelvic Pain Research Network (MAPP) study. Participants identified the location of their physical distress on a body map and then underwent functional and structural MRIs. Two results were immediately obvious. First, in addition to the area identified, scans revealed that the distress was widely distributed through the body. Second, those with widespread distress displayed increased gray matter and brain connectivity within sensory and motor cortical areas. A third result, completely unexpected, was that these individuals with widespread distress, although they had the diagnosis of urological chronic pelvic pain, were actually identical to another chronic disorder: fibromyalgia. These results are expected to yield new ways of treating patients with chronic distress by helping to identify, for example, whether to target treatments to the central nervous system rather than to the pelvic area.