A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago has tried to find out why some people who have similar injuries manage to recover completely while others have to deal with chronic pain.
The study involved over 40 participants who complained of back pain for over a period of four to 16 weeks. The researchers took brain scans of the participants at the start of the study and then on three more occasions over a period of one year. The study has been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
The researchers said that chronic pain develops on two different regions of the brain, frontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens, which "talk" to each other. The researchers added that based on the interactions between the two regions, they were able to successfully predict with an 85 percent accuracy which of the participants were going on to develop chronic pain.
"For the first time we can explain why people who may have the exact same initial pain either go on to recover or develop chronic pain. The injury by itself is not enough to explain the ongoing pain. It has to do with the injury combined with the state of the brain. This finding is the culmination of 10 years of our research", lead researcher A Vania Apakarian.