In a new genetic study, researchers found that chronic pain is linked to multiple health conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, arthritis, and PTSD.
It is the largest genetic study of chronic pain ever conducted.
The study was done by a team from the University of Glasgow.
Around one-third of the world’s adult population will experience chronic pain during their lifetime.
Chronic pain is acute pain from injury or surgery that persists beyond the healing period. Many conditions can lead to chronic pain. It can also be caused by mild trauma.
Sometimes the intensity of chronic pain does not necessarily match the degree of tissue damage, such as in arthritis.
Previous research has shown that genetic factors may contribute to chronic pain, but it has been unclear how acute pain becomes chronic over time.
In the new study, the team aimed to better understand the biology behind chronic pain.
They focused on DNA risk markers linked to “multisite chronic pain” within the UK Biobank.
Multisite chronic pain characterizes the number of places people report chronic pain in their body, on a scale from zero to seven.
The study involved more than 380,000 participants.
The researchers looked at chronic pain regardless of the underlying injury or condition.
They found 76 independent DNA risk markers linked to chronic pain.
These markers DNA were spread across the genome and suggested that genes expressed in the adult brain may play a role in chronic pain.
The team also found 50% of the DNA risk markers were shared between chronic pain and depression.
This could explain why people with depression often also experience chronic pain and vice versa.
In addition, there were genetic overlap between chronic pain and schizophrenia, rheumatoid arthritis, PTSD, and BMI.
The findings provide new information on the genetics and possible mechanisms of chronic pain.
The team says the results may help predict which people are more likely to develop chronic pain and may help develop new pain treatments in the future.
One researcher of the study is Keira Johnston.
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