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Arthritis Pain Processed in Brain’s 'fear Zone,' First PET Scans Revea

g fear, emotions and aversive conditioning.

"This suggests that arthritic pain has more emotional salience than experimental pain for these patients, which is consistent with the unpleasantness scores they themselves gave. The increased activity in the areas associated with aversive conditioning, reward and fear, which are less commonly activated during experimental pain, suggests they might be processing fear of further injury and disability associated with the arthritic pain."

Project supervisor Professor Anthony Jones, whose Human Pain Research Group is based at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The finding that both experimental and arthritic pain activate the medial and lateral pain systems suggests that there isn’t a unique brain network for processing arthritic pain, and we are therefore justified in using experimental pain to investigate the generalised mechanisms of pain perception. However, it seems that studying experimental pain alone does not provide the complete picture, and that PET scanning patients experiencing different types of clinical pain can reveal subtle changes in brain activity.

"Importantly, the study has demonstrated the importance of the medial pain system during the experience of arthritic pain, suggesting it would be a good target for both new analgesics and non-pharmacological interventions. The body’s own pain-killing chemicals - the endogenous opioid system – could even be a possible candidate for modulation to target pain in the areas we have identified."

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