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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Jan 2022 - 21 Jan 2022

2021 Dec 15


Longitudinal resting-state electroencephalography in patients with chronic pain undergoing interdisciplinary multimodal pain therapy.


Heitmann H, Gil Ávila C, Nickel MM, Dinh S T, May ES, Tiemann L, Hohn VD, Tölle TR, Ploner M
Pain. 2021 Dec 15.
PMID: 35050961.


Chronic pain is a major healthcare issue posing a large burden on individuals and society. Converging lines of evidence indicate that chronic pain is associated with substantial changes of brain structure and function. However, it remains unclear which neuronal measures relate to changes of clinical parameters over time and could thus monitor chronic pain and treatment responses. We therefore performed a longitudinal study in which we assessed clinical characteristics and resting-state electroencephalography data of 41 patients with chronic pain before and 6 months after interdisciplinary multimodal pain therapy. We specifically assessed electroencephalography measures that have previously been shown to differ between patients with chronic pain and healthy people. These included the dominant peak frequency; the amplitudes of neuronal oscillations at theta, alpha, beta, and gamma frequencies; as well as graph theory-based measures of brain network organization. The results show that pain intensity, pain-related disability, and depression were significantly improved after interdisciplinary multimodal pain therapy. Bayesian hypothesis testing indicated that these clinical changes were not related to changes of the dominant peak frequency or amplitudes of oscillations at any frequency band. Clinical changes were, however, associated with an increase in global network efficiency at theta frequencies. Thus, changes in chronic pain might be reflected by global network changes in the theta band. These longitudinal insights further the understanding of the brain mechanisms of chronic pain. Beyond, they might help to identify biomarkers for the monitoring of chronic pain.