A neural model for chronic pain and pain relief by extracorporeal shock wave treatment

Urol Res. 2008 Dec;36(6):327-34. doi: 10.1007/s00240-008-0156-2. Epub 2008 Oct 7.


The paper develops a new theory of chronic pain and pain relief by extracorporeal shock wave treatment. Chronic pain without underlying anatomical disorder is looked at as a pathological control function of memory. Conditioned reflexes are considered to be engraved memory traces linking sensory input of afferent signals with motor response of efferent signals. This feature can be described by associative memory functions of the nervous system. Some conditioned reflexes may cause inappropriate or pathological reactions. Consequently, a circulus vitiosus of pain sensation and muscle and/or vessel contraction is generated when pain becomes chronic (pain spiral). The key feature is a dedicated engram responsible for a pathological (painful) reaction. The pain memory may be explained by the concept of a holographic memory model published by several authors. According to this model it is shown how nervous systems may generate and recall memory contents. The paper shows how extracorporeal shock wave treatment may reorganize pathologic memory traces, thus giving cause to real and permanent pain relief. In a generalized manner, the idea of associative memory functions may help in the understanding of conditioning as a learning process and explain extracorporeal shock wave application as an efficient treatment concept for chronic pain. This concept may open the door for new treatment approaches to chronic pain and several other disorders of the nervous system.

MeSH terms

  • Biofeedback, Psychology / physiology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology
  • High-Energy Shock Waves / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Management*
  • Synapses / physiology