A study in the December issue of Anesthesiology suggests a role for brain imaging in the assessment and potential treatment of chronic pain.
University of Michigan researchers are the first to use brain imaging procedures to track the clinical action of pregabalin, a drug known by the brand name Lyrica– that is prescribed to patients suffering from fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain.
Three different brain imaging procedures were performed – proton magnetic resonancespectroscopy, functional magnetic resonance imaging and functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging – in 17 patients with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder thought to result from a disturbance in the way the central nervous system processes pain. It affects an estimated 10 million people in the United States and 3 to 6 percent of the world population.
Patients with fibromyalgia may spontaneously report pain throughout their bodies although there is no inflammatory or anatomical damage. In addition to chronic pain, patients may also suffer from related mood disturbances, such as anxiety anddepression.
Previous research has shown that fibromyalgia patients may have heightened neural activity in a region of the brain involved in processing pain and emotion called the insula, and that this excess activity may be related to elevated levels of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate.