Neuroimaging in understanding chronic pain mechanisms and the development of new therapies
Wartolowska K., Tracey I.
This chapter describes how brain imaging methods have been used in studies on pain, what neuroimaging tells us about the role of the central nervous system in pain processing, how being in constant pain affects the brain, and finally, how neuroimaging can be applied to improve the existing analgesic drugs and to discover new therapies. Neuroimaging makes it possible to study pain processing beyond the peripheral nervous system, at the supraspinal level, in a safe, noninvasive way, without interfering with neurophysiological processes. In recent years, studies using brain imaging methods have contributed to our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for the development and maintenance of chronic pain. Moreover, neuroimaging shows promising results in characterizing different types of pain, bringing us closer to the development of mechanism-based treatments for chronic pain. © 2009 Springer-Verlag New York.