It doesn’t take a genius to see how back pain affects one’s mood and disposition. A person experiencing such agony often experiences depression and anxiety. Oftentimes, these emotional responses are taken lightly since the pain usually goes as soon as relief comes. Lately, however, studies discovered that chronic back pain can have long lasting effects on the brain… and it’s your cognition that takes the blow.
A study published in the January 2011, edition of Neuroscience and Behavioral Psychology showed that 17% of patients who suffer from chronic spinal pain complained of difficulty concentrating while 20% had problems recalling information. They also fared poorly on attention, mental flexibility, and visuomotor tests compared to healthier participants. Dysfunction in younger patients was intensified by pain and further by anxiety. For the older ones, it was worsened by exaggerated fears of their condition.
Supporting research by scientists from Northwestern University in Illinois compared 26 healthy volunteers and 26 patients suffering from chronic lower back pain for six months and longer. It was found that chronic back pain causes the grey matter, the part responsible for memory and information processing, to shrink by as much as 11% each year compared to 0.5% loss with normal aging. This means the brain ages 20x faster. Those with sciatica were found to have the largest reduction. Conclusively, the longer the back pain, the higher the brain loss.
A theory suggests that chronic pain pushes nerve cells to exert more effort which diminishes the gray matter. There’s also the possibility that prolonged chronic pain may cause irreversible changes to the brain. Bergen County back pain specialists encourage patients to seek out immediate care if back pain is recurring and is starting to hinder you from functioning normally.
Chronic back pain can be caused by certain complications in the spine such as spinal stenosis, herniated discs, sciatica, facet syndrome, and degenerative discs. It may also be due to poor habits such as eating unhealthy food, not having proper posture, smoking, and lack of exercise, engaging in strenuous activities and tremendous weight.
If your condition can still be remedied without the need for surgery, doctors you can rely on for back pain relief in Ridgewood, NJ such as MedWell Spine, Ostheoarthritis and Neuropathy Center, will advise you to undergo spinal decompression therapy. This basically involves stretching the spine to relieve spinal discs of pressure. Doctors have used this to treat back or neck pain, sciatica, bulging disks, degenerative disk disease, injured spinal nerve roots and worn spinal joints.
(Source: Chronic Back Pain Limits Brain Power, Alternativementalhealth.com)