Newly released research indicates chronic pain may be genetic.
The research forms part of an investigation into the causes of chronic pain.
Unlike normal, or “acute” pain – the sensation triggered by the nervous system to alert the body to possible injury – chronic pain is persistent, with pain signals continuing to fire in the nervous system for weeks, months or years.
The new research to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA suggests the answer is genetic. As part of the new study, researchers asked 2,721 patients with chronic pain to rate the intensity of their pain from 0 to 10. All of the patients were taking prescribed opioid pain medications.
The researchers divided the participants into three groups. Those who scored their pain 1-3 were classed as having “low pain perception,” people who scored 4-6 had “moderate pain perception,” while “high pain perception” was defined by scoring 7-10.
The majority of the people in the study (46%) had moderate pain perception, closely followed by high pain perception (45%). Only 9% of the participants had low pain perception, and anyone giving their pain a rating of 0 was disqualified from the study.
The research team found that a gene variant, DRD1, was 33% more common in the low pain group than in the high pain group. The people in the moderate pain group were more likely to have another two variants – COMT, which was 25% more common in this group than in the high pain group, and OPRK, which was 19% more common. The high pain group, meanwhile, were 25% more likely to have the variant DRD2 than the people in the moderate group.
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