We’ve seen it, heard it, and, in most cases, felt it. Back pain is not enjoyable to any of the senses, yet low back pain is the leading form of chronic pain around the world.
Of those that suffer with this and other forms of lasting discomfort, there has been found to be real cognitive impairments. It has been found that these patients have reduced gray matter in the parts of the brain needed to process pain signals, as well as the emotional components that come along with chronic discomfort.
The question asked by a team of researchers recently was, if the back pain is corrected, will the gray matter damage be corrected?
Participants included recruits from the Orthopedic Spine Clinic and Alan Edwards Pain Management Unity (associated with the McGill University Health Center), were chosen by the McGill research team based on certain criteria. Each had to have been dealing with lower back pain for a minimum of six months and each had to have plans to undergo either back surgery or spinal injections to alleviate the problem.
MRI scans were taken to determine the cortical thickness of brain matter, as well as brain activity levels as the participants completed simple cognitive tasks. The same scans were taken after treatment for the back pain was administered. The findings were astounding. The brains’ activity had increased and the brain matter was thicker.
Was the back pain the cause of the differences in the brain?
The researchers agree that more studies would have to be conducted to know for sure, but also concur that the chronic pain was, at very least, preserving the less favorable conditions.
For more information, read the full article at www.sciencedaily.com