Researchers Identify Brain Defects Causing Tinnitus and Chronic Pain
A new collaborative study from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington D.C. and Technische Universität München in Germany says that it has found the brain defects causing tinnitus (ringing ears) and chronic pain. The study was published in the Trends and Cognitive Sciences medical journal.
The researchers found that the brain mechanisms responsible for controlling noise and pain signals lose the ability to do so in patients who suffer from tinnitus and chronic pain. This means they perceive loud noises or pain long after the initial injury occurs. Compromising the nucleus accumbens and areas of the prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulated cortex can lead to these conditions, the researchers explain.
Tinnitus is a hearing condition that can affect anyone, but is a common ailment in U.S. veterans and factory and construction workers. Close proximity to heavy machinery, explosions, and other repetitive and loud noises permanently damage the nerves in the ear, causing a ringing or buzzing noise and hearing impairment. Tinnitus is the most commonly listed disability in veterans, and it affects roughly 10 percent of the adult population in the U.S., according to the VA.
Chronic pain can be a devastating condition because in many cases there is no identifiable source of the pain. Therefore, many patients go years without a proper diagnosis, undergo unsuccessful treatments for wrongfully diagnosed conditions, or may even fail to find a doctor who will believe their symptoms. VA doctors and civilian doctors are working to better understand how to properly identify and treat cases of chronic pain.
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