Question: What Is A Functional MRI And How Is It Used To Diagnose Pain?
Answer: Functional MRI allows the physician to map changes in brain blood flow that correspond to brain function.
Functional MRI, or fMRI, tracks an increase in blood flow to specific blood vessels that accompanies neural activity in the brain. So, fMRI images brain activity related to a specific task or sensory process. Certain areas of the brain are modified by the presence of pain as well as the reduction of pain following pain treatment.
Functional neural imaging is helping to identify the sensory and emotional aspects of pain at the level of the brain where pain producing signals are ultimately processed and translated into a personal experience. fMRI is helping us understand that pain affects multiple neural systems in the brain and is a dynamic condition that can change rather than a fixed, static condition.
Researchers are using fMRI to explore how chronic pain is processed, the effects of mood and attention on pain and how to design more effective treatments to reduce the impact of pain on your life.