Recently I discovered that scientists in Chicago, have discovered “new clues” into what role the brain plays in chronic back pain (CBP). A lot of people I know don’t think that CBP has anything to do with aging or deterioration of the body.
Here’s what I found. The investigators used (MRI’s) magnetic resonance imaging brain scans to compare the brains of 26 individuals with Chronic Back Pain against the brains of 26 “pain-free people.”
According to the report, “patients with CBP showed 5-11% less neocortical gray matter volume than the pain-free subjects. In other words, the people with chronic back pain had less brain volume, than the pain-free people.
The magnitude of this decrease is equivalent to the gray matter volume lost in 10-20 years of normal aging. The people with CBP not only had less brain material to work with, they were aging ‘prematurely’ and all because of their chronic back pain.
The decreased volume was related to pain duration, how long they had the pain which was indicating a 1.3 cm(3) loss of gray matter (brain material) for every year of chronic pain.”
When I schedule you for an appointment, it’s not because I want to ‘crack your back or neck’. The real reason I want you to follow through with your care is because I care about you and your health. True healing takes time.
The study also showed that CBP patients had decreased gray matter (brain matter) density. Brain thickness. Some of you wives will probably want your husbands to read this insert because you’ve been telling him this, all along.
Here’s what the researchers had to say as a conclusion. “Our results imply that CBP is accompanied by brain atrophy and suggest that the pathophysiology of chronic pain includes thalamocortical processes,” What that means in a nut shell is this. If you have chronic back pain, your brain is deterioriating more rapidly and this pathological state causing you to age more rapidly and all because of your chronic back pain. Something you might want to think about.
Source: Journal of Neuroscience – November 2004;24:1041-5.