Sunday, March 31, 2013

CLBP and Impaired Brain Function

According to some sources, chronic low back pain (CLBP) is the most common form of chronic pain and has been associated with abnormal brain anatomy and function. When compared with pain-free individuals in the control group, individuals with CLBP have been shown to have reductions in cortical gray matter in several areas of the brain including the prefrontal cortex. And it’s not just CLBP. Cortical abnormalities have been identified in individuals with a wide variety of other chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic headache. I recall my mother saying, “When my head hurts, I just can't think straight." An article published in the Journal of Neuroscience reported on a recent study at McGill University, the findings of which associated chronic pain with reduced brain gray matter and impaired cognitive ability. This may provide some impetus for those who struggle with chronic pain (especially chronic back pain) to take another look at strategies that may reduce the pain, with the view to improving brain function. The good news, according to the researchers, is that brain activity seemed to normalize after successful pain treatment. In fact, the title of the article was definite: "Effective treatment of chronic low back pain reversed the abnormal brain anatomy and function."

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