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Neurosurg Clin N Am. 2004 Jul;15(3):269-88.

Functional imaging and the neural systems of chronic pain.

Author information

1
Division of Pain Management, Department of Anesthesia, Stanford University Medical Center, Palo Alto, CA 94305, USA. smackey@stanford.edu

Abstract

Pain remains a serious health care problem affecting millions of individuals, costing billions of dollars, and causing an immeasurable amount of human suffering. In designing improved therapies, there is still much to learn about peripheral nociceptor, nerves, and the spinal cord, and brain stem modulatory systems. Nevertheless, it is the brain that presents us with an incredible opportunity to understand the experience we call pain. Functional neuroimaging is helping to unlock the secrets of the sensory and emotional components of pain and its autonomic responses. These techniques are helping us to understand that pain is not a static disease with the pathologic findings localized to the periphery but is instead a highly plastic condition affecting multiple central neural systems. Functional neuroimaging is transforming our understanding of the neurobiology of pain and will be instrumental in helping us to design more rational treatments ultimately aimed at reducing the impact of pain on our patients. It is opening windows into the function of the brain that were previously closed.

PMID:
15246336
DOI:
10.1016/j.nec.2004.03.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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