MRI technique may serve as chronic pain biomarker

Some people say "pain is all in the mind." Perhaps it actually is, according to a poster on an imaging biomarker presented at the 2012 AAPM (American Academy of Pain Medicine) Annual Meeting. The researchers, from Harvard Medical School and the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, looked at the brains of people with chronic low back pain and discogenic pain along with those of healthy people using arterial spin labeling, a form of MRI that measures blood flow to particular brain regions. Comparing the images showed changes in connectivity between regions of the brain. While this is early work in a small group, the imaging technique may have potential as an objective biomarker for chronic pain. Pain biomarkers are elusive, but could be useful in diagnosis and tracking pain in clinical trials, as well as in helping patients and physicians differentiate chronic pain from psychological symptoms. Abstract