Tags: throbbing | pain | brain | waves | pulse | heart | beat

Throbbing Pain Not Linked to Pulse, but Brain Waves

By    |   Tuesday, 13 Aug 2013 10:51 AM

If you’ve ever experienced throbbing pain from a migraine, injury, or toothache you’ve probably suspected it has to do with your heartbeat. Not so. New research shows that brain waves — not your pulse — are to blame for throbbing pain.
 
The discovery, by University of Florida scientists, could change how researchers look for new therapies to ease pain, according to the study published in the journal Pain.
 
"Aristotle linked throbbing pain to heart rhythm 2,300 years ago," said Andrew Ahn, M.D., a neurologist at the UF College of Medicine, who led the study. "It took two millennia to discover that his presumption was wrong."

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Ahn and his colleagues had previously determined the pulsations associated with throbbing pain are not tied to heart rate, by monitoring the pulse of patients. But the new study found that throbbing pain is correlated with a type of brain activity called alpha waves, through the use of an electroencephalogram.
 
What they don’t know yet is exactly how alpha waves cause throbbing pain. But the new findings indicate that the experience of pain is linked to how the brain works and not to the pulsations of blood at the location of the pain — findings that may one day lead to better treatments for pain, Ahn said.
 
"Current therapies for pain do not adequately relieve pain and have serious negative side effects, so we thought that by examining this experience more closely we could find clues that would lead us to improved therapies to help people who suffer from pain," Ahn said. "It turns out that we have been looking in the wrong place all along."
 
This study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.

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If you've ever experienced throbbing pain from a migraine, injury, or toothache you've probably suspected it has to do with your heartbeat. Not so. New research shows that brain waves - not your pulse - are to blame for throbbing pain.
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Tuesday, 13 Aug 2013 10:51 AM
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