Could a Bad Back Be Making Your Brain Shrink?




If you’re thinking that something is holding you back, it might just be your spine. Chronic back pain negatively affects brain activity as studied in The Journal of Neuroscience. So if you’ve thought that it’s just back pain, it’s no big deal. Think again. Chronic back pain affects your performance in everything you do. How does that occur?

Your brains responsibility is to make sure your aware and adapting to everything around you; everything thing from temperature changes to walking straight to digesting your food. To do this your brain requires input from the nerves throughout your body. At all times your brain is getting information and adapting to the new environment.

It might surprise you but your nervous system has 2 divisions, Sympathetic and Parasympathetic. In very basic terms Sympathetic nerves send information if the situation or environment is urgent, stressful or an emergency, in this case pain. Parasympathetic messages are sent if the situation is calm, easy and relaxed. They send opposite signals. What does this have to do with back pain and brain function?

If you are experiencing chronic back pain, the information that your brain receives is; stress, pain, urgent, emergency. This is happening on a constant, regular basis. Constant signals of Stress (urgent, emergency) causes your brain to changes the way it receives and interprets information.

With constant back pain your brain will slowly adapt by decreasing activity or shutting down parts of the brain. This is followed by the brain actually losing mass and getting smaller in certain areas. Long term, poorly managed back pain can actually decrease and shrink your brain.

Is this reversible? Initial research says yes. After receiving care your brain will start to receive less “stress” signals and begin to improve brain function, not to mention feeling better with less pain. After a period of improved activity the brain will increase in thickness to regular levels.

To keep yourself and your brain healthy do not tolerate pain especially for long periods of time. Get checked by a chiropractor. Get adjusted. Get healthy.

The Journal of Neuroscience, 18 May 2011, 31(20): 7540-7550; doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5280-10.2011

Platinum Chiropractic 

Serving the greater Grand Rapids area; Standale, Walker, Wyoming, and Grandville

Grand Rapids, MI 49534


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