Imaging could furnish proof of chronic pain
Emotional, legal boost for patients
By Carey Goldberg, Globe Staff | December 19, 2006
Researchers foresee a day when people tortured by chronic, unexplained pain will be able to prove that they really hurt -- evidence that could help sufferers be taken more seriously and could even lead to better treatments.
Recent studies suggest that prolonged, ongoing pain leaves a signature in the brain that can be detected using advanced imaging techniques. In other work, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and elsewhere have found that excruciating nerve damage can be detected in bits of skin the size of a pinhead. And genetic tests may someday prove useful, researchers believe: Certain genes appear to be linked to lower pain thresholds and a tendency to develop chronic pain.