How Chronic Low Back Pain Can Affect Your Brain

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We all know how physically debilitating a bout of low back pain can be, but did you know that if this becomes a chronic condition it can start to affect your brain?

How Chronic Low Back Pain Can Affect Your Brain

Disability due to low back pain is a growing public health problem in Australia with a prevalence rate of 60% to 80%. In fact, lower back pain is the second most common complaint presented to general practitioners after upper respiratory complaints (eg cold and flu symptoms).

On a larger scale, disability from Low Back Pain places a significant social and economic burden on the individual and society. In Australia, back problems are the main cause of musculoskeletal expenditure in the health system, at a total cost of $700 million in 1993-1994.

It is a common misconception that a single event is the cause of most back pain attacks. According to Professor Stuart McGill, a leading lumbar researcher, the most likely injury scenarios occur as a result of cumulative trauma from low-volume loads. In other words, the most common injury is the result of repetitive loads placed on the spine and discs resulting in cumulative trauma such as micro-tears of the outer part of the disc and weakening of the supporting structures. This process is known as internal disc disorder (IDD) and is thought to be responsible for approximately 40% of all back pain.

We are all aware of the physical effects of back pain, but interesting research continues to provide insight into the neurological implications of this type of injury and the lifestyle associated with it. A 2004 study by the Department of Neurology at Northwestern University School of Medicine found that patients with chronic low back pain showed a 5-11% loss of brain volume, compared to healthy people, in areas responsible for functions such as memory, it is believed. and sensory processing. This reduction is equivalent to the brain volume lost in 10-20 years of normal aging. As this change in our nervous structure continues, the state of pain becomes more irreversible and less responsive to treatment.

Experts believe this is caused by reduced movement and activity, especially the midline muscles that stabilize the spine. The postural muscle system provides a great deal of stimulation necessary for the growth and maintenance of our nervous system and brain.

Studies have shown muscle wasting or atrophy in the Multifidus muscle (a small intrinsic muscle that stabilizes spinal movement) of the side and level of back injury within 48 hours of onset. That’s why it’s important to seek early intervention to get you back on the road to recovery.

Through chiropractic-specific adjustments to the spine, pelvis, and extremities, rehabilitative exercises and supportive products, chiropractors can create an individualized strategy to break the cycle of chronic pain or injury and return you to your best. Chiropractors aim to break the cycle of chronic pain and enable you to make healthy lifestyle choices to stay healthy. I’m sure you’ll agree that life is too short to live in pain, and restricted from doing the activities you want to do.

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By Nimra Zubair

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