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      When pain gets stuck : the evolution of pain chronification and treatment resistance

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          Abstract

          It is well-recognized that, despite similar pain characteristics, some people with chronic pain recover, whereas others do not. In this review, we discuss possible contributions and interactions of biological, social, and psychological perturbations that underlie the evolution of treatment-resistant chronic pain. Behavior and brain are intimately implicated in the production and maintenance of perception. Our understandings of potential mechanisms that produce or exacerbate persistent pain remain relatively unclear. We provide an overview of these interactions and how differences in relative contribution of dimensions such as stress, age, genetics, environment, and immune responsivity may produce different risk profiles for disease development, pain severity, and chronicity. We propose the concept of "stickiness" as a soubriquet for capturing the multiple influences on the persistence of pain and pain behavior, and their stubborn resistance to therapeutic intervention. We then focus on the neurobiology of reward and aversion to address how alterations in synaptic complexity, neural networks, and systems (eg, opioidergic and dopaminergic) may contribute to pain stickiness. Finally, we propose an integration of the neurobiological with what is known about environmental and social demands on pain behavior and explore treatment approaches based on the nature of the individual's vulnerability to or protection from allostatic load.

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              In response to stress, the brain activates several neuropeptide-secreting systems. This eventually leads to the release of adrenal corticosteroid hormones, which subsequently feed back on the brain and bind to two types of nuclear receptor that act as transcriptional regulators. By targeting many genes, corticosteroids function in a binary fashion, and serve as a master switch in the control of neuronal and network responses that underlie behavioural adaptation. In genetically predisposed individuals, an imbalance in this binary control mechanism can introduce a bias towards stress-related brain disease after adverse experiences. New candidate susceptibility genes that serve as markers for the prediction of vulnerable phenotypes are now being identified.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                PAIN
                PAIN
                Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health)
                0304-3959
                2018
                December 2018
                : 159
                : 12
                : 2421-2436
                10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001401
                6240430
                30234696
                © 2018

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