Chronic pain syndromes remain a widespread problem in the United States. Chronic pain causes much suffering and places a large economic burden on the health care system. Recent advancements in brain imaging techniques are increasing our understanding of the role of the brain in the perpetuation of chronic pain. These studies are beginning to decode the neural substrates underlying chronic pain states. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), our group has demonstrated distinct temporal and spatial disturbances in brain activity in chronic pain states such as chronic low back pain. The principal goal of the proposed project is to expand on our previous fMRI pain studies and investigate pain processing along the entire neuraxis. The proposed research aims to utilize fMRI to further characterize and understand pain-related neural activity at the level of the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord in both healthy subjects and chronic neck pain patients. Overall, this information will increase our understanding of pain processing and further characterize the neural substrates underlying chronic neck pain. Specifically, our team intends to use these results in the future to properly design studies using fMRI to measure treatment-induced changes in pain-related brain, brainstem, and spinal cord activity.

Public Health Relevance

New advances in medical imaging have allowed for the measurement of brain activity related to chronic pain. In addition to the brain, we aim to use functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate pain processing in the brainstem and spinal cord in healthy subjects and chronic neck pain patients. The information gained from this study will increase our understanding of how chronic pain is encoded in the nervous system and assist in developing more effective treatment strategies.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
Type
Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)
Project #
5F32AT007800-02
Application #
8774569
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZAT1-PK (23))
Program Officer
Khalsa, Partap Singh
Project Start
2012-12-01
Project End
2015-11-30
Budget Start
2013-12-01
Budget End
2014-11-30
Support Year
2
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
$64,988
Indirect Cost
Name
Northwestern University at Chicago
Department
Physiology
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
005436803
City
Chicago
State
IL
Country
United States
Zip Code
60611
Wang, Xue; Casadio, Maura; Weber 2nd, Kenneth A et al. (2013) White matter microstructure changes induced by motor skill learning utilizing a body machine interface. Neuroimage 88C:32-40