Connect
MJA
MJA

Neuroplasticity and pain: what does it all mean?

Philip J Siddall
Med J Aust 2013; 198 (4): 177-178. || doi: 10.5694/mja13.10100

Recent findings have implications for how we conceptualise, assess and treat pain

The concept of neuroplasticity — the ability of the nervous system to change its structure and function — has captured the imagination of clinicians, researchers and the general public.1 The ability of the brain to reorganise itself is remarkable. For example, people who are visually impaired engage their visual cortex for fine sensory discrimination when using their hands. In these situations, neuroplasticity appears to be a positive adaptation to loss of function.

Please login with your free MJA account to view this article in full

  • Philip J Siddall1,2

  • 1 Greenwich Hospital, HammondCare, Sydney, NSW.
  • 2 Northern Clinical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.


Acknowledgements: 

I currently receive funding from National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists grants.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Doidge N. The brain that changes itself: stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science. London: Penguin Books, 2007.
  • 2. Seifert F, Maihofner C. Functional and structural imaging of pain-induced neuroplasticity. Curr Opin Anaesthesiol 2011; 24: 515-523.
  • 3. Latremoliere A, Woolf CJ. Central sensitization: a generator of pain hypersensitivity by central neural plasticity. J Pain 2009; 10: 895-926.
  • 4. Flor H, Elbert T, Knecht S, et al. Phantom-limb pain as a perceptual correlate of cortical reorganization following arm amputation. Nature 1995; 375: 482-484.
  • 5. Wrigley PJ, Press SR, Gustin SM, et al. Neuropathic pain and primary somatosensory cortex reorganization following spinal cord injury. Pain 2009; 141: 52-59.
  • 6. Melzack R, Coderre TJ, Katz J, Vaccarino AL. Central neuroplasticity and pathological pain. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2001; 933: 157-174.
  • 7. Price DD, Verne GN, Schwartz JM. Plasticity in brain processing and modulation of pain. Prog Brain Res 2006; 157: 333-352.
  • 8. Sandkühler J. Learning and memory in pain pathways. Pain 2000; 88: 113-118.
  • 9. Knecht S, Henningsen H, Hohling C, et al. Plasticity of plasticity — changes in the pattern of perceptual correlates of reorganization after amputation. Brain 1998; 121: 717-724.
  • 10. Gwilym SE, Filippini N, Douaud G, et al. Thalamic atrophy associated with painful osteoarthritis of the hip is reversible after arthroplasty: a longitudinal voxel-based morphometric study. Arthritis Rheum 2010; 62: 2930-2940.

Author

remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Comment
Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Responses are now closed for this article.