Chronic pain, a persistent pain that lasts for several weeks, months, or even years, is a problem that many people across the globe struggle with.
It’s a tricky condition to understand because it’s influenced by numerous factors and can manifest differently in different people.
However, a recent study led by researchers at McGill University might bring us a step closer to handling this widespread issue.
Pain and Its Patterns
As a part of the study, researchers designed a model that could predict the chances of a person developing chronic pain, how severe it might be, and how it might spread throughout their body.
They found out that pain has a tendency to move from one part of the body to another.
To build this model, the team used data from the UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database that stores genetic and health information of thousands of people.
By using machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence that improves its own performance through experience, the model could predict long-lasting pain and estimate how widespread it would become.
What Influences Chronic Pain?
In addition to devising this predictive model, the researchers identified several factors that could increase the risk of chronic pain.
These factors include not getting enough sleep, experiencing feelings of distress, suffering from fatigue, undergoing stressful life events, and having a body mass index (BMI) above 30.
Changing the Approach to Chronic Pain
The findings from this study could significantly change how healthcare professionals approach chronic pain.
For instance, doctors could use the predictive model to identify individuals at high risk of developing chronic pain and implement preventative measures early on.
Moreover, by understanding the factors that contribute to chronic pain, doctors could create more personalized treatment plans that address these underlying issues.
For example, if sleeplessness is identified as a risk factor for a patient, the treatment plan might include strategies to improve sleep quality.
Dr. Etienne Vachon-Presseau, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences at McGill and a co-author of the study, expressed optimism about the findings.
He believes that recognizing the common factors linked with chronic pain could improve patient outcomes by enabling more tailored treatment plans.
In conclusion, while chronic pain is a complex and widespread issue, studies like this provide a ray of hope.
By using big data and advanced technology, we can better understand, predict, and manage chronic pain, offering relief to millions of people worldwide.
If you care about pain, please read studies about how to manage your back pain, and exercise harder if you want to ward off pain due to ageing.
For more information about pain, please see recent studies about how to live pain-free with arthritis, and results showing common native American plant may help reduce diarrhea and pain.
The study was published in Nature Medicine.
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