Cerebral White Matter is Disrupted for Individuals with Chronic Pain

Individuals who suffer from chronic pain experience major changes to the structure of their brain.


A new study examined 30 individuals with chronic pain using an MRI machine and compared their brain patterns to 30 normal, pain-free controls. The researchers found crucial alterations in areas such as the middle and inferior frontal gyrus, corpus callosum, corona radiata, precentral gyrus, external capsule, and posterior thalamic radiation. Furthermore, a correlation was found between the white matter integrity and the degree of pain that subjects were experiencing.



This study shows how individuals with “central sensitization” can experience long-lasting problems that negatively alter the way their body processes pain.



Van Riper, S. M., Alexander, A. L., Koltyn, K. F., Stegner, A. J., Ellingson, L. D., Destiche, D. J., … & Cook, D. B. (2017). Cerebral white matter structure is disrupted in Gulf War Veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Pain158(12), 2364-2375.