Brain chemistry changes 'can result in altered pain thresholds'

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

UK scientists have found a way of adjusting pain thresholds by making adjustments to their brain chemistry.

The University of Manchester research has indicated that the numbers of opiate receptors in the brain increases to combat severe pain in arthritis sufferers, suggesting that this increase in opiate receptors is an adaptive response to chronic pain.

“A study of arthritis patients has indicated that people can raise their pain threshold by altering brain chemistry.“

As such, this understanding could make it possible to enhance the process, providing a new way of naturally increasing resilience to pain, without the side effects associated with many painkilling drugs.

The study used positron emission tomography imaging on 17 patients with arthritis and nine healthy controls to show the spread of the opioid receptors.

Study leader Dr Christopher Brown said: "As far as we are aware, this is the first time that these changes have been associated with increased resilience to pain and shown to be adaptive."

The team is hoping that simple interventions to further enhance this natural process can be found, and that it will be possible to design smart molecules or simple non-drug interventions.

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