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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med


Multidimensional Pain Modulation by Acupuncture Analgesia: The Reward Effect of Acupuncture on Pain Relief.


Pan S, Wang S, Xue X, Yuan H, Li J, Liu Y, Yue Z
Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2022; 2022:3759181.
PMID: 36408345.


Pain is an intrinsically unpleasant experience with features that protect an organism by promoting motivation and learning. Pain relief, a negative reinforcement of pain, is considered a reward and activates the brain's reward system. The reward circuit in the brain involves reward and pain. Acupuncture has a multidimensional and comprehensive regulating effect on chronic pain. However, the reward effect of acupuncture in relieving chronic pain and the mechanism of the brain reward circuit involved in acupuncture analgesia are not thoroughly studied. In this article, we have reviewed the definition of pain abnormalities and negative emotions in patients with chronic pain, the conceptual characteristics of analgesic reward, and the new progress in studying brain reward circuits and functions. Moreover, we have expounded on the critical clinical and scientific significance of studying the reward effect of acupuncture analgesia and related brain reward circuits, the pain mechanism obtained from human neuroimaging studies, and the survey results on the effects of acupuncture on reward/motivation circuits. Some viewpoints and suggestions on the reward effect of acupuncture analgesia and related reward circuits have been put forward to clarify the multidimensional characteristics and benign regulation of acupuncture analgesia. Studies on the reward effect of acupuncture in relieving chronic pain and the regulating effect of the brain reward loop on acupuncture analgesia help to deepen the clinical understanding of acupuncture analgesia, innovate the research concept of acupuncture analgesia, and provide help for further studies on the central mechanism of acupuncture in improving chronic pain in the future.