This paining depicts the fact that chronic pain is transmitted by overexcitable neurons. The devastating nature of chronic pain is mediated by hyperactive neurons in both the peripheral and central nervous system that can make normal activities painful and result in pain throughout the body. Years of research in both animals and human subjects shows that the body’s response to pain becomes abnormal. Not only are the neuron’s hyperexcitable, our body’s own pain relieving capability is reduced. In fact, I have spent the bulk of my career studying pain mechanisms in muscle and joint conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis. Our research has discovered several potential targets and pathways that may one day lead to better treatment. We are currently expanding our research to examine how fatigue and pain interact. Fatigue is an equally devastating symptom that is extremely common in people with chronic pain and also reduces people’s ability to participate in normal activities. We believe that there are similar mechanisms underlying both pain and fatigue.
Chronic pain affects one third of the US population and costs over 600 billion dollars per year as cited by the Institute of Medicine Report on Pain. Because of the significant problem, a National Pain Strategy was released in 2016 by Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health. The strategy calls for improvement in education of all health professionals and the public, research targeting new and improved approaches to treatment, and better access to pain treatments for all Americans. These are big goals and will need significant resources to accomplish. While all of this is a problem in America, it does not stop here, it is a problem worldwide. Only with dedicated researchers and clinicians can we