The role of neuroinflammation in chronic pain

🕒 Approximate reading time: 5 minutes

Chronic pain, a persisting and often debilitating condition, impacts millions worldwide. One of the emerging focal points in understanding its intricacies is neuroinflammation – the brain's inflammatory response. How does this link to enduring pain?

Understanding Neuroinflammation

Neuroinflammation refers to the inflammatory process within the brain and spinal cord. Triggered by a variety of factors such as injury, infection, or toxins, it's marked by the activation of brain-resident immune cells called microglia.

From Acute to Chronic: The Shift

While acute inflammation is a natural protective response, problems arise when this inflammation becomes prolonged. Chronic neuroinflammation can lead to neural damage and is implicated in a variety of neurological diseases, including chronic pain syndromes.

Neuroinflammation and Chronic Pain

Several studies have shown that neuroinflammation plays a pivotal role in the development and maintenance of chronic pain:

  • Sensitisation: Prolonged inflammation can make nerve cells more sensitive, meaning even mild stimuli can produce pain.
  • Neurotransmitter Imbalance: Inflammation can disturb the balance of neurotransmitters, enhancing pain signals.
  • Brain Changes: Chronic neuroinflammation can lead to alterations in brain regions associated with pain perception.

Potential Treatment Avenues

Addressing neuroinflammation could offer novel strategies to tackle chronic pain:

  • Anti-inflammatory Drugs: Medications targeting the inflammatory pathway may help reduce pain.
  • Diet and Lifestyle: Anti-inflammatory diets and practices like meditation have shown potential in modulating neuroinflammation.
  • Microglia Modulation: Drugs that can selectively target microglial activation might offer future promise.

Future Research: The Way Forward

While the link between neuroinflammation and chronic pain is becoming clearer, more research is essential. This includes identifying precise molecular pathways and testing potential interventions in diverse populations.


Neuroinflammation presents both a challenge and an opportunity in the realm of chronic pain. By delving deeper into its role, we may pave the way for more effective, targeted therapies, bringing relief to countless sufferers.