Does 'Brain Predicted Age Difference' Predict the Onset of Chronic Pain?
The normal aging process of humans causes a reduction in brain tissue. It has been shown that chronic pain is related to an increase this process beyond that of the normal aging process. A reduction in brain cells can be seen in many brain areas involved with the processing of pain. This causes a person to have a brain that appears older than their chronological age. Having an older brain puts people at risk of developing illnesses like Alzheimer's disease for instance, but there is not currently good enough evidence that an older brain puts people at risk of chronic pain. This study will use brain scans to identify participants' brain age; it will then assess if the participants that have developed chronic pain after they were scanned had an older brain at the time of scanning. We expect to find that brain age will predict the future development of chronic pain. If this is the case, it will provide doctors who are treating pain in patients with a simple tool, based on standard brain imaging techniques, to screen patients for the risk of developing chronic pain. This could allow them to better plan management and ultimately prevent the onset of chronic pain.