Study Show Low Back Pain Will Shrink Your Brain.

Everyone knows that pain in their back can negatively affect their golf game, but can it also effect their Scrabble score?

Recent research has shown that chronic pain can actually change the size, shape, and activity of different areas in the brain. Chronic back pain has been linked with decreased brain size and abnormal brain function, but until now it has been unclear whether these changes can be reversed. Fortunately, a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience asked that question. In this study, traditional brain MRI scans and functional MRI scans during a cognitive challenge (puzzle) were obtained from patients with chronic low back pain and compared to healthy control subjects. The MRIs of the patients with back pain showed a decreased thickness in the cortex of certain areas of the brain and abnormal brain activity in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. 6 months after successful treatment of the chronic back pain, these subjects had new brain scans performed to search for changes. These follow-up studies in the patients with improved back pain symptoms demonstrated that their brain cortex thickness had increased to standard levels, and their functional MRI showed normal activity patterns. Therefore the authors concluded that chronic back pain does cause a decrease in cortical brain thickness and abnormal function, but with successful treatment these changes can be reversed and will increase brain size while normalizing brain activity. So if you are suffering from chronic back pain, don't "just live with it"…. find the cause of the problem and fix it….your brain will thank you!

Seminowicz DA, Wideman TH, Naso L, Hatami-Khoroushahi Z, Fallatah S, Ware MA, Jarzem P, Bushnell MC, Shir Y, Ouellet JA, Stone LS. Effective treatment of chronic low back pain in humans reverses abnormal brain anatomy and function. J Neurosci. 2011 May 18;31(20):7540-50.

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