A new longitudinal brain imaging study claims that chronic pain is all in the head of patients.
Researchers at Northwestern Medicine observed that patients experience pain differently for the same injuries depending on how their brains work.
The more the two sections of the brain that control emotional and motivational behaviour communicate, the more likely it is that a person will experience chronic pain.
As a result of the study, new therapies can be developed to target those patients with the condition.
Dr A Vania Apakarian, senior author of the paper, commented: "The injury by itself is not enough to explain the ongoing pain. It has to do with the injury combined with the state of the brain."
This means that if a person has a strong emotional reaction to an injury, they are more likely to experience pain once the injury has healed.
It is thought this occurs because the brain is "more excited to begin with", but "genetic and environmental influences" may also have a role to play in predisposing the brain to such a reaction, Dr Apakarian added.
A recent study has suggested that a naturally occurring protein can cause chronic pain in patients.
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