Prior Abuse Enhances Irritable Bowel Syndrome Pain

Those with a history of abuse are more highly sensitized

MONDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with irritable bowel syndrome and a history of abuse report more sensitivity to pain and greater activity in the areas of the brain associated with pain sensation than healthy controls, according to a report published in the February issue of Gastroenterology.

Yehuda Ringel, M.D., of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues conducted a study of 10 women diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and 10 healthy controls; half of the women in each group reported a history of abuse. The women underwent rectal distentions and brain functional MRI to identify activation in the dorsal cingulate cortex subregions. The subjects also provided pain ratings.

The researchers found a correlation between pain and activation of the posterior and middle dorsal cingulate subregions. Reported pain and activation of these two subregions were greater among women with a history of abuse than those without. Women with both irritable bowel syndrome and a history of abuse had the highest pain levels.

"Our results point to enhancing effects of abuse history with irritable bowel syndrome on an important region of the homeostatic afferent processing network in the brain and on pain reporting and suggest a possible mechanistic explanation to why patients with irritable bowel syndrome and abuse report greater pain and poorer outcome," the authors conclude.

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