Chronic Pain Video

Brainwaves can indicate a person’s level of pain | Brainwaves and Chronic Pains

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Brainwaves can indicate a person’s level of pain.

The study may pave the way for individualized brain therapies that target and treat the most severe forms of chronic pain.

According to a recent study, brain impulses can be used to measure a person’s level of pain, which may change the way we manage some chronic pain illnesses.

The study, which was published today in Nature Neuroscience, is the first to record a person’s chronic pain-related brain impulses. It might support the creation of individualized treatments for the most severe types of pain

In the US, more than diabetes, high blood pressure, or depression, up to one in five persons have chronic pain, which is defined as discomfort that lasts for three months or more. After a stroke or amputation of a limb, it might occasionally impact a person. It’s also exceedingly challenging to treat since we still don’t fully understand how it affects the brain. Life quality may be negatively impacted.

Four sufferers with chronic pain had electrodes surgically implanted in their brains by University of California, San Francisco researchers. Over the next three to six months, the patients responded to surveys about the intensity of their pain several times per day. They sat still for 30 seconds after completing each survey so that the electrodes could record their brain activity. The brain signal patterns were as individual as a fingerprint, and this assisted the researchers in finding biomarkers of chronic pain.

To model the survey results, the researchers applied machine learning. According to Prasad Shirvalkar, one of the study’s authors, scientists discovered they could accurately forecast how the patients would rate the degree of their pain by observing their brain activity.

The idea is to try to monitor these signals without causing any harm, he says, now that we know where they are located and what kind of signals to search for. “Maybe we can use it for diagnosis,” the researcher speculated, “as we recruit more patients or better characterize how these signals vary between people.”

The researchers also discovered that using a thermal probe, they could discriminate between a patient’s chronic pain and acute pain that had been intentionally inflicted. The signals associated with chronic pain originated in a separate region of the brain, indicating that it is not merely an extension of acute pain but rather something altogether different.

There is no one-size-fits-all method for dealing with pain because different people feel pain in various ways. This has proven to be a significant difficulty in the past. Shirvalkar compares electrical brain stimulation, a treatment, to turning pain on or off like a thermostat, and the team is hoping that mapping people’s biomarkers will make it possible to more precisely target therapeutic usage of electrical brain stimulation.

According to a professor of clinical neuroscience at the University of Oxford who was not involved in the experiment, the findings could represent a significant advance in the treatment of pain and could be particularly useful in treating chronic pain sufferers who have communication challenges.
“This opens a new door to smart pain technologies, so I think this is a really important engineering hurdle that has now been crossed,” he claims.

It also highlights the highly individual manner in which people experience pain and the significance of individuallyizing therapies, continues Shirvalkar.

Let them give their side of the story, he argues, since it’s obvious that pain is so complex—and that individuals are so complex—that this is the only way to truly hear and see them.