After implantation of a prosthetic knee, some arthritis patients continue to experience pain after surgery. In some cases this is the result of so-called pain memory, which continues to send signals to the brain even though the joint has been removed. Several international experts in the field came together on the 12th and 13th May 13, 2011 in Platja d’Aro (Girona), as part of the fourth Esteve Foundation Discussion Group, to discuss the scientific possibility of erasing pain memories and negative experiences.

As outlined by these researchers, memory is a lasting change in behavior resulting from previous experiences. First, participants tried to agree on a definition of pain memory, a term that should be reconsidered in a more comprehensive way in terms of plasticity in long-term nociception. They then identified possible locations of pain memory before moving on to discuss other issues such as the possible neural mechanisms of plasticity in the nociceptive system and goals for the elimination of unwanted plasticity in nociception.

Jürgen Sandkühler, from the Center for Brain Research at the Medical University of Vienna chaired the various sessions, which included the following participants:

Allan I. Basbaum
Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco, United States

Joff Lee
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Stephen B. McMahon
Wolfson CARD, King’s College London, United Kingdom

Frank Porreca
Department of Pharmacology, Univerisity of Arizona, Tucson, United States

Claudia Sommer
Neurologische Klinik, Würzburg, Germany