Reconnecting the Brain with the Rest of the Body in Musculoskeletal Pain Research, 2021

Topics: Musculoskeletal pain; chronic pain; muscle; connective tissue; mind and body practices

Authors: Helene M Langevin


A challenge in understanding chronic musculoskeletal pain is that research is often siloed between neuroscience, physical therapy/rehabilitation, orthopedics and rheumatology which focus respectively on 1) neurally-mediated effects on pain processes, 2) behavior and muscle activity, 3) tissue structure and 4) inflammatory processes. Although these disciplines individually study important aspects of pain, there is a need for more cross-disciplinary research that can bridge between them. Identifying the gaps in knowledge is important to understand the whole body, especially at the interfaces between the silos—between brain function and behavior, between behavior and tissue structure, between musculoskeletal and immune systems, and between peripheral tissues and the nervous system. Research on “mind and body” practices can bridge across these silos and encourage a “whole person” approach to better understand musculoskeletal pain by bringing together the brain and the rest of the body.

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