Introduction:There is a need to identify objective cortical electrophysiological correlates for pain relief that could potentially contribute to a better pain management. However, the field of developing brain biomarkers for pain relief is still largely underexplored.Objectives:The objective of this study was to investigate cortical electrophysiological correlates associated with relief from chronic pain. Those features of pain relief could serve as potential targets for novel therapeutic interventions to treat pain.Methods:In 12 patients with chronic pain in the upper or lower extremity undergoing a clinically indicated nerve block procedure, brain activity was recorded by means of electroencephalogram before and 30 minutes after the nerve block procedure. To determine the specific cortical electrophysiological correlates of relief from chronic pain, 12 healthy participants undergoing cold-pressor test to induce experimental acute pain were used as a control group. The data were analyzed to characterize power spectral density patterns of pain relief and identify their source generators at cortical level.Results:Chronic pain relief was associated with significant delta, theta, and alpha power increase at the frontal area. However, only midfrontal theta power increase showed significant positive correlation with magnitude of reduction in pain intensity. The sources of theta power rebound were located in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and midline frontal cortex. Furthermore, theta power increase in the midline frontal cortex was significantly higher with chronic vs acute pain relief.Conclusion:These findings may provide basis for targeting chronic pain relief via modulation of the midline frontal theta oscillations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1040
JournalPain Reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 10 2022


  • Chronic pain
  • Experimental acute pain
  • Midline frontal theta power
  • Nerve block
  • Pain relief


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