A new study in the US reveals new details about pain.
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The study published Tuesday in Cell Reports focused on the brain circuitry that amplifies or decreases pain signals.
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Results show that pain perception is essential for survival, but pain intensity can be increased or decreased.
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Research compares this mechanism with the way a thermostat controls the temperature in a home.
The study's lead author, Yarimar Carasquillo, a researcher at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), explained that the region responsible for this mechanism is the central amygdala, an essential brain structure in decoding emotions, writes Agerpres.
According to the study, the central amygdala appears to play a dual role.
"The healthy reaction is: you feel pain, say something is wrong, you are treated and the pain goes away," explained Yarimar Carasquillo.
& # 39; & # 39; In case of chronic pain, this does not happen, the system is blocked. If we can identify what is blocking the system, we can reverse the phenomenon & # 39; & # 39; said the researcher.
Carasquillo and colleagues found that activity in C-delta protein kinase-expressing neurons amplifies pain, while somatostatin-expressing neurons inhibit the transmission chain in the nerves used to communicate pain.
The central amygdala is not fully responsible for pain management. Their roles are, for example, responding to stress or anxiety that magnifies pain, or helping to focus on a task that distracts a person's attention and reduces pain perception.
The perception of pain can be an important warning signaling that the person needs help, for example for people with appendicitis or heart attack.
People born with pain insensitivity often do not realize the severity of their injuries and therefore have a higher risk of death.
However, not all pain sensations are helpful. According to a 2012 survey, about 11% of American adults suffer from physical pain every day. It often leads to addiction to powerful painkillers such as opioids, or attempts to self-medicate with counterfeit or illegal products, which increasingly contain fentanyl, an extremely potent and dangerous opium of synthesis.
By trying to better understand the brain mechanisms responsible for pain modulation, researchers hope to find better treatments that target only those forms of pain that are "bad" and useless.