Date of Award
Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences
Chronic pain can be a debilitating condition which weighs heavy upon its sufferers and the healthcare system at large. Although such a common condition, chronic pain can be an ambiguous term that incorporates many emotional, psychological, and physical states. Due to epidemiologically relevant psychological and physical conditions between chronic pain patients and substance-use disorder populations, a model relating to the latter population has been suggested. The CReAM (Combined reward anti-reward model) has been used to develop a better understanding of the feed-forward nature of deteriorating pain conditions. Researchers have identified certain anatomical regions that may play a role in the pathological condition, both cortical and subcortical regions of the brain and the spinal cord. Appropriate molecular mechanisms have been implicated in the development of chronic pain, including long-term potentiation and depression at the synaptic level. The mapping of cortical circuits and systems relating to chronic pain conditions has been a continually growing topic in this research field as additional areas, and connections continue to be discovered and understood. This mounting input of data has led to complex interweaving cortical networks involving mesolimbic, mesocortical, basal ganglia, endogenous analgesic system, reward, anti-reward, and many more systems working together in this pathological state. Due to the numerous potential causes, areas affected, the span of psychological and physical symptoms, and lack of options treatment of chronic pain has been a challenging prospect. This challenge has led to a number of unintended consequences that burden the healthcare system, such as the opioid crisis currently faced in the United States. Overall chronic pain is a challenge that is enormous, but necessary to face as the condition takes its toll on the millions of sufferers.
Stein, Jacob, "Chronic Pain: A Review" (2019). PCOM Capstone Projects. 2.