The pain threshold of arthritis patients can increase after their brain chemistry is altered, according to findings published in the journal Pain.
Researchers from the University of Manchester observed 17 patients with arthritis pain and nine healthy controls who underwent whole brain positron emission tomography scanning in order to find evidence for the relationship between chronic pain and opioid receptors in brains. The researchers noted that it was not fully understood how the opioid system adapts to chronic pain states, which is why the scans were necessary. The researchers then applied heat to the patients’ skin using a laser stimulator to track the spread of opioid receptors. The researchers found that endorphins act as natural painkillers but the opioid receptors can increase over time to reduce and help patients cope with long term and severe pain. Read more.