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New Study: Chronic Pain a consciousness disorder

Discussion in 'Research' started by Vouthon, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. Vouthon

    Vouthon Peer Supporter

    http://www.newsweek.com/chronic-pain-consciousness-disorder-fibromyalgia-physics-medicine-795389 (Physics, not biology, might help treat fibromyalgia patients like @ladygaga)

    Chronic Pain a consciousness disorder


    In a striking crossover from physics to medicine, an international team of physicists, neuroscientists, anesthesiologists and chronic pain researchers collaborated to apply network science to the study of fibromyalgia, a common but poorly understood disorder of which the defining symptom is chronic pain with no obvious cause. (It's what recently caused Lady Gaga to cut her world tour short.)

    The team took electroencephalograms, better known as EEG readings, from 10 female patients (fibromyalgia is more common in women than in men). They found that the patients' baseline level of pain sensitivity was unusually heightened, despite the absence of any apparent stimuli to cause it.

    To the researchers' surprise, their patients proved hypersensitive to all kinds of stimuli (like visual or auditory) besides pain, suggesting they had a clinical predisposition to heightened responsiveness across the board. The team discovered that among chronic pain patients, the brain's neural network showed ES characteristics—reacting to minor or seemingly non-existent stimuli with an explosion of pain, the same way a small power surge can trip an electrical network and cause a blackout. A paper describing the research was published in the scientific journal Nature.

    “If you were to touch my hand, that wouldn’t be a stimulus that would have repercussions for me," corresponding author George Mashour, Director of the Center for Consciousness Science at the University of Michigan, told Newsweek. "But for a chronic pain patient, even what would be considered an innocuous stimulus like touch can be registered as pain.”

    The team is the first to show that a hypersensitive brain can act like an ES network, and that conclusion raises a complex question: Could chronic pain be a consciousness disorder, rather than a physical one?

    When you shut your hand in a door or cut yourself shaving, your pain has an intuitive source. But for patients with conditions like fibromyalgia, the experience of pain might not be comparable to the one most of us have, Mashour said. Instead, such patients might experience chronic pain closer to the way patients with schizophrenia experience hearing voices. In other words, it looks like fibromyalgia-beset muscles don't ache because anything is hurting the muscles themselves; the pain originates in the brain. The call is, as they say, coming from inside the house.

    "That doesn’t mean it’s not a real experience—it is," Mashour said. "It’s interesting to think about certain dimensions of pain as being a kind of hallucination, and as a way of gaining more insight into consciousness."

    Pain is inherently a state of consciousness, Mashour explained; it's defined by what you feel when you're experiencing it. On the other side of the same coin is nociception, which refers to an unpleasant stimulus being physically processed by your nervous system. Think about it in terms of being anesthetized and unconscious—your body still experiences nociception, even though you no longer register the pain as a feeling.
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  2. runningyogi

    runningyogi New Member

    Thank you for sharing this! I have often related this idea:

    "Instead, such patients might experience chronic pain closer to the way patients with schizophrenia experience hearing voices."
    Bodhigirl likes this.
  3. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    But then, the sixty-four thousand dollar question: what is the cause or causes driving such hypersensitivity to develop? And of course how do you desensitize a patient once they've developed it? I think the Mayo clinic seems to think that hyper-sensitization is just something that occurs at random after exposure to intense sensory stimuli. TMS posits an emotional causality.
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
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  4. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    Exactly my thought Bruce.
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  5. mugwump

    mugwump Well known member

    Same thoughts
    BruceMC likes this.
  6. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    Oh, my. This hits close to home. I’m not tracking one thing. What’s ES?? Explosive ...?.
  7. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    From an update to the article:

    " In the realm of network science, researchers study a mechanism known as “explosive synchronization,” or ES, in which a network has an outsized reaction to a regular-sized disturbance. The "network," in this context, could mean a computer, an electrical grid, even a social network—or, we've now learned, a brain."
  8. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    "With respect to treatment of FM, we expect that our study may ultimately suggest new approaches for analgesic treatments." (quoted from article referenced)

    So, they have discovered that individuals with Fibromyalgia have increased sensitivity and this can be shown in brain imaging. Sigh. So back to Bruce's comment above, what causes or is driving such hypersensitivity to develop?
    The authors' proposed cure, or suggestion for a cure, is analgesics or the like. Maybe some folk with fibromyalgia would welcome this, I have known a few who would. Yet I have also know a few who would rather not go that route, are tired of the drugs, needles, etc., who also understand that their brain(s) have been programmed somehow to this negative state. We all have been programmed, some, unfortunately develop this type of pain, i.e. fibromyalgia, which, as we know, is debilitating.

    Just my thoughts.

    westb likes this.
  9. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    Thanks Plum and Lainey. Too bad. Another try at explaining TMS. We are highly sensitive people, more than likely.
    I know I heard the nightly news and my body goes into contraction. I have had more headaches and muscle aches since 45’s sojourn to Europe and I feel unsafe, psychologically.
    Before this, I had been painfree for a long spell.
  10. Rosebud

    Rosebud Peer Supporter

    I had been free of back pain for about ten years, when 45 won the election. There had been some other stresses going on in my life, but I really feel this put me over the edge. I kept thinking that if this horrible, impossible thing could happen, then what else could happen? What kind of unsafe, unpredictable world did we live in?!!! I spent hours and hours at the computer, all huddled up, and within a few weeks, my back started to hurt, and stuff went downhill fast.

    I'm not even American! :banghead:
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  11. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    I am with you, Rosebud! This morning in my meditation I wrestled with intense neck stiffness and ache. I prayed for a prayer of kindness that would soften my anxiety. Here it is, hope it helps. In Buddhist practice there is tonglen, a wish that we and all living beings be free from suffering and the root of all suffering. For 45 I found a prayer! May he be free from causing suffering. May he be free from causing harm.
    Within moments I was ache free. I don’t know how long it will last. Likely till my next exposure to the news. My marriage has been based in a lively discussion of current events. I am a native born Washingtonian! Dad was at Treasury and mom was on Capitol Hill. Detaching from DC politics is biologically impossible so I must choose patience and kindness over and over and over again. Deep breath!
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  12. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Oh Bodhigirl
    Good for you for meditating on a tonglen to aid the POTUS.

    I admit how hard it is for me to be continually exposed the the events of the day/month/year regarding this most bizarre time. I too am a native born Washingtonian. Growing up in the city many decades ago. Grew up there, only to leave for the other coast at age 21 and returned to the general area years later. Yes, my life growing up was filled with news events that shook a young girls heart and mind. My fear tentacles were always being activated. I have known of this sensitivity for years, this compounded with family dysfunction that only served to feed into my trembling heart and alerted mind. Discussion of current events was/is a must-do in our family. I weary of this too. I choose to mostly to get my updates online, from papers. Turn on some soft, pleasant music. Keep the trident voices at bay.

    I recently finished 'The Book of Joy' which focused on a week spent with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu who met to discuss 'what is joy?" It was a good book for me to read at this time. Allowed some perspective on current events vis a vis our time spent here on earth. One experience I had about 18 years ago was being in Lisner Auditorium to see the Dalai Lama and listen to him answer questions from the audience. There were only about 300 people there, quite amazing. My mind was altered (longer story I'll omit) just from being around him and listening to his answers to questions posed. It is an experience I carry with me still Still, my mind mostly responds otherwise, forgetting the joy of being and struggling with the pain, both emotional and physical we call TMS.

    Bodhigirl likes this.
  13. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I too felt terribly unsettled after the election, but you have to consider what impact WWI, WWII, the Holocaust and the Atomic detonations had on the whole psychology and by implication (if you accept the TMS theory) the physical health of all the inhabitants of terra firma during the 20th and twenty-first centuries. After all, W.H. Auden did classify the 1950s as "the age of anxiety"! It would be interesting to investigate if there was an uptick in admissions to ERs of patients with odd maladies following the shock of election night? Of course, you can speculate about psycho-history, but it's really hard to quantify its effects.
  14. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Bruce, I fully agree with your synopsis and Auden’s “age of anxiety” moniker for the 50’s timeperiod. Even while writing my post above, I thought of the many, many prior turmoil(s) in our beloved blue planet and how too so many people have been impacted by terrible struggles and events, almost beyond comprehension. My own father emigrated from a war torn country, escaping illegally and finding passage to the US. I have friends who came to the US as refugees. These individuals thrived and moved on, becoming seemingly successful in creating happy and fulfilling lives, so, who is to say one event is more traumatizing then another. So, yes, quantifying the effects of wars, natural disasters is really hard. Yet, here we are. Trying to understand ourselves and the whys and ifs of our personal state I felt drawn to Bodhigirl’s similar beginnings, growing up in the same city. In no way do my thoughts regarding the current political state of affairs mean to diminish the horrors of past. I will leave quantifying the possible effects of these events to the sociologists or ethnologists.
  15. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    I’m tempted to start a new thread for this!
    Choosing joy has been my most recent meditation! Wow it’s hard. I’m in my fourth migraine in 4 weeks!
    I am doing Alan’s program again. Trying to grasp outcome independence which might also detach me from the news and it’s fallout.
    I started searching for a holistically oriented neurologist and yet I know this is TMS and no one can fix it!

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