Chronic pain is a complex problem with staggering negative health and economic consequences. The complexity of chronic pain is presented within Cervero and Laird's model that describes three phases of pain, including pain without tissue damage, pain with tissue damage and inflammation, and neuropathic pain. The increased afferent input in phases 2 and 3 of chronic pain produces marked changes in primary afferents, dorsal root ganglia, and spinal cord dorsal horn. These changes promote the symptoms of chronic pain, including spontaneous pain, hyperalgesia, and allodynia. Increased afferent input also evokes supraspinal input to the dorsal horn, including biphasic innervation from the ventromedial medulla and A7 catecholamine cell group, that promotes hyperalgesia and allodynia. More rostral brain structures, such as the lateral hypothalamus, amygdala, and hippocampus, may also play a role in chronic pain. Although much has been discovered about the multiple pathological mechanisms involved in chronic pain, further research is needed to fully comprehend these mechanisms. © 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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