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Chronic pain may make you lethargic - A Family Chiropractor in Parramatta

Posted by A Family Chiropractor on August 5, 2014 at 11:20 PM

Chronic pain may affect the brain in such a way that it decreases your motivation level, even after taking painkillers, a new study has found.

 

People with chronic pain report feeling fatigue, depression and decreased motivation, said Neil Schwartz from Stanford University in California.

 

The brain's rewiring during chronic pain may stem from the way pain prevents people from further injury, researchers said.

 

"Acute pain is useful because it limits or stops our behaviour to prevent further injury, promote healing and prevent a similar injury in the future," said Schwartz.

 

But chronic pain can permeate a person's life.

 

In the new study, Schwartz and his colleagues gave mice a chocolate-flavoured pellet if they poked their noses into a small hole. But the task became more difficult over time, requiring dozens of nose pokes for a pellet.

 

The researchers divided the mice into three groups — one group of mice with injuries to their sciatic nerves (the nerves that run down the back of the leg), one group of mice with inflamed paws and a control group of uninjured mice.

 

Decreased motivation

 

Tests showed that the injured mice still liked the reward and were still able to move around the chamber. But somehow, the pain decreased their motivation. Even painkillers failed to improve their performance.

 

However, the injured mice did just as well as the uninjured mice did when the test was easy and required only a few nose pokes. "It was only when the task was substantially difficult that we saw this detriment in behaviour," Schwartz said.

 

This finding suggests they had decreased motivation, according to the study that appeared in the journal Science.

 

The researchers identified a signaling chemical called galanin as the link between changes in the brain's circuits and the decreased motivation. When the researchers inactivated the galanin receptor in the nucleus accumbens, the brain currents returned to normal, and the injured mice completed the test as well as the uninjured mice did.

 

Howard Fields, the director of The Wheeler Centre for the Neurobiology of Addiction at the University California, San Francisco School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, said the finding may guide future research on behaviours that accompany chronic pain.


 

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