Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Chronic Pain



Chronic pain is the major clinical trait in rheumatologic diseases, varying from non-inflammatory conditions, such as widespread pain syndrome (fibromyalgia), to systemic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and diseases characterized by localized joint degeneration and inflammation, such as knee osteoarthritis. Depending on the disease, different pain mechanisms may be involved. Widespread pain syndrome is considered the prototypical central pain syndrome and research have highlighted the role of central pain processing mechanisms, such as sensitization of pain transmitting neurons and dysfunction of descending inhibitory pain pathways. The objective of the series of fMRI and pain studies is to use functional magnetic resonance imaging to objectively evaluate brain-activation patterns involved in chronic pain patients, and during application of experimental deep tissue pain to determine whether these patterns are consistent with an augmented central pain processing in patients with knee osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.