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Chronic Pain in Gulf War Veterans Linked to Brain Structure Changes

 

 

Gulf War Veteran Brain Damage from High Res Imaging

Veterans with chronic pain show altered brain structures involved in pain processing

In a peer reviewed paper tfunded by Veterans Affairs; the brains of Gulf War Veterans with chronic pain have been found to possess larger pain processing regions and smaller pain regulation regions compared to their healthy peers, according to new research published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Over one third of Gulf War Veterans experience widespread, chronic pain linked to a condition called Gulf War Illness. The underlying cause of the pain is poorly understood, preventing the development of effective treatments. Ninneman et al. analyzed the brains of Gulf War Veterans with and without pain using MRI. The participants also completed questionaries about their pain symptoms, fatigue, and mood.

Those with chronic pain displayed smaller left and right insular cortices, two brain areas involved in regulating pain. They also had larger areas of the frontal cortex, specifically in regions involved in pain sensitivity and emotional regulation. The structural changes were more pronounced in people with worse pain, but there was no relationship with fatigue or mood. These results indicate the chronic pain from Gulf War Illness may stem from changes in how the central nervous system processes pain, rather than with issues with nerves or pain receptors.

Paper title: Pain, but not Physical Activity, is Associated with Gray Matter Volume Differences in Gulf War Veterans with Chronic Pain

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the full-text PDF and to join SfN's journals media list.

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.


Image: GULF WAR VETERANS WITH CHRONIC PAIN HAD HAD LOWER REGIONAL GRAY MATTER VOLUME IN THE LEFT AND RIGHT INSULAR CORTICES.

Credit: NINNEMAN ET AL., JNEUROSCI 2022


 

 

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