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Chronic Pain Linked to Psychological Response to Injury

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The brain and the body are intricately connected, so much so that some have speculated that the brain can impact the physical health of an individual. A recent study found evidence of the brain-body link and chronic pain. If you suffer from chronic pain from an injury, it is a real and debilitating condition. But the scientists responsible for the new study say that a injured person's pain is largely dictated by their mental state.

In the study, scientists used brain scans to examine the interaction between two parts of the brain, the frontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens in patients that suffered from back pain for the first time in their lives. The researchers were able to predict a respondent's likelihood of developing chronic back pain about 85% of the time given the brain scans. The researchers note that chronic pain is a serious condition affecting 30 to 40 million Americans each year.

Saying that a person's mental state is connected to their physical pain does not imply that they are "faking" an injury or that it's "all in their head", as some would believe. Instead, the scientists speculate that positive motivational and emotional behavior can help alleviate chronic pain, supporting the need for therapeutic assistance at both the physical and psychological levels following an injury.