Source : HealthCMi
Acupuncture alleviates sciatica and MRIs reveal that acupuncture causes important pain relief related changes in brain functional connectivity. Affiliated Huashan Hospital of Fudan University researchers gathered objective and subjective data in a controlled clinical trial consisting of patients suffering from sciatica. Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) scores indicate that acupuncture produces significant decreases in both pain intensity levels and frequency of pain. Additionally, MRIs show that acupuncture restores pain-free connectivity related activity in the brain; acupuncture changed the functional state of the brain such that patients had greater resting states.
The researchers determined that acupuncture regulates the default mode network (DMN). In addition, the DMN regulation induced by acupuncture treatment correlates to significant reductions in pain for sciatica patients. The DMN is a complex of interconnected activated and deactivated brain regions and the DMN is at its peak activity level when the brain is at rest. Acupuncture facilitated key changes to the brain to allow for the resting state to return. The research indicates that sciatica-related pain disturbs the normal DMN pattern and that acupuncture restores the pattern.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the research team discovered that acupuncture “raises negative activation in the brain’s default mode network (DMN) of chronic sciatica patients, especially in the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex.” The cingulate cortex and the frontal cortex are known to be involved in pain-related subjective perception and cognition, memory, emotional responses, and attentional responses.
Prior research confirms that decreased negative activation in the DMN is associated with increased pain. Another fMRI study compared chronic lower back pain patients with healthy volunteers. The results showed that patients with chronic lower back pain had significantly decreased negative activation in the default mode network (DMN) of the brain. Negative activation is a form of functional connectivity found during the brain’s resting state.
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