Monday, March 4, 2013

Chronic Pain and Stress Linked In The Brain

Recent research shows that managing stress may also help control the symptoms associated with chronic pain. Researchers from the University of Montreal studied chronic pain and found an association between intensity of pain and reported stress levels, as reported by the Huffington Post.
In this study, about 25 participants were examined, with about half experiencing chronic pain and the other acting as control subjects.  Researchers found that participants with a smaller hippocampus also often had higher cortisol levels, a stress hormone.  Higher levels of cortisol led to increased pain reporting using a scale of intensity. This was commonly seen in subjects who reported chronic pain symptoms.  

The participants were also put into a functional MRI scanner to measure brain activity.  The fMRI results showed that subjects with a smaller hippocampus responded to pain in an area that's also linked to anticipatory anxiety.  Additionally, those same participants were also more likely to have heightened cortisol levels (chronic pain sufferers).  The link between these two areas suggests that, by controlling stress and anxiety, chronic pain symptoms may also be controlled as well. 
Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury attorney who serves the western and central Pennsylvania areas.  His clients include those who now suffer from chronic pain as a result of an injury due to the fault of another.  For more information on his Altoona, PA practice, please visit his website or call his office at 814-946-4100.

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