EXCITING NEWS! UCLA is now doing a study specific to Provoked Vestibulodynia and fMRI!
UCLA Brain Imaging Study
Women between the ages of 18 and 55 who have been diagnosed with Provoked Vestibulodynia (formerly vulvar vestibulitis syndrome), or are experiencing chronic pain at the vaginal opening with/without intercourse may be eligible to participate in this study. Women must be right-handed and cannot be pregnant. Participation involves two visits over approximately 2-4 weeks. Dr. Emeran Mayer at the UCLA Center for Neurobiology of Stress (www.uclacns.org) will conduct brain imaging tests (fMRI) to understand how chronic vulvar pain may affect the brain’s activity and structure. Participants can earn up to $75 and will receive a picture of their brain.
For more information, please contact Dr. Andrea Rapkin (310-825-6963).
Why is this Exciting?
This is cutting-edge research specific to Vulvodynia using fMRI. This study isn’t just about the brain and pain- it relates to Vulvodynia!
In the past few years, research regarding chronic pain and the brain has revealed consistent and interesting results.They are connected! There are lots of fancy words surrounding this phenomenon such as central sensitization (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1526590009006099). The most important thing to know is that how we process pain and experience pain is regulated by the brain. Moreover, the longer we experience chronic pain, the more likely our brains will respond to pain differently and possibly become hypersensitive.
Two interesting developments:
1. Chronic Pain may actually change the structure and response of the brain.
One of many articles to support this: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304395908001280
2. There’s a possbility that we can use Functional Brain MRIs (fMRI) to change/decrease our pain perception.
Small pilot study supporting possible use of fMRI for changing perciption of pain: http://snapl.stanford.edu/research/rtfmri.html ”Taken together, these results suggest that, using real time fMRI, people can learn to strengthen the function of a specific region of the brain and, through that change, the regions associated with the perception of pain”