Monday, July 26, 2010

Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Physical Evidence

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) is the top scientific organization in the field of pain research. An awesome group. (A brief description and historical review can be found in the book Unbelievable Pain Control).

A recent issue of PAIN: Clinical Updates (published by IASP) gives a brief, but pithy, summary of new research in fibromyalgia. These updates are available for reading from this link.

Here are some findings cited by Dr. Claudia Sommer, from the Neurological Clinic, University of Wurzburg, Gernmany.

New evidence from functional imaging studies provide additional evidence of brain dysfunction in people with fibromyalgia. She cites studies to indicate sensitization in central parts of the brain, plus evidence of defective pain inhibitory systems. This evidence comes from MRI, fMRI and PET scan studies. 

Dr. Sommer also examined why treatment is often limited in its effectiveness. One possible reason is that there may be sub-types of fibromyalgia. Each sub-type may need a different combination of treatments to be effective. This research is in the early stages, but promises to help doctors and scientists pinpoint the most effective treatments for this complicated and often disabling condition.

A summary of how far we have come in our understanding of chronic pain and fibromyalgia can be found in the Epilogue: We Have Come A Long, Long Way of the book Unbelievable pain Control. Please check it out.

And stay tuned. The next posting will follow-up with more research findings.

Yours with care,

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Brain Changes, Chronic Pain, Inspiration, Art

The cover of new issue of  PAIN  has a picture of charcoal grey guitar on a sea of blue.

This was one of many paintings completed by a woman after a stroke and serious injury to her brain. Here is a statement from the artist:

"I was not previously interested in art. But after my stroke, I had this incredible urge to paint. When I am feeling well, i can paint for hours. ...  I use the warmest colors possible. It's good for me, makes me feel better. I am energized in front of my paintings, as if in another world."

The article shows several of the artists impressive paintings. Amazing when you think that this person had no previous talent or experience. She had completed over 120 paintings, some the size of whole rooms.

Interestingly, painting warm colors made her come alive, with energized spirit and mood. Painting dark colors made her chronic pain worse, almost instantly.

In this article (Pain, 2010, 150, 121-127), the authors use this incredible example to help us understand how changes in the brain can affect us in such unexpected ways.

In the meantime, we are treated to a truly inspirational story of hope amidst tragedy.

Check it out and prepare to be moved.

Yours with care