Is Pain Shrinking Your Brain?

Posted on Apr 12, 2020

New research shows that long-term pain may actually shrink the brain. Do you know anybody who is suffering with chronic pain? Oftentimes, those with chronic pain experience attention problems.

If you’re hurting, it’s going to be harder to concentrate on tasks at hand… after all, the pain is unbearable! Chronic pain, especially lower back pain, can often be linked to the brain.

Research studies looked at imaging taken over 15 years to show activity in various brain regions when people felt pain. What did these studies find? Pain activates the somatosensory cortex as well as messes with a person’s mood, attention and anxiety. People who took medications and/or substances (like excessive alcohol or opioids) had reduced gray matter in their brains– essentially “shrinking their brains.” This shrinkage was also thought to be caused by overuse atrophy, whereas the brain had to work hard to deal with the pain and therefore wore itself out, hence shrinking…

So, for those of you with lower back pain thinking it’s “all in your back,” realize this– it’s also connected to your brain. A brain dealing with pain may age up to 20 times faster than normal… and shrink up to 11%. For more information about this, you’d want to check research done by Northwestern University researchers.

Interestingly, researchers noticed the part of the brain that shrinks is responsible for memory and information processing– so no wonder it’s harder for people with chronic pain to concentrate, focus, and remember things.

The longer a person deals with chronic pain, the more brain loss they’ll likely experience.

If you’ve been having chronic pain and haven’t done anything about it, or you find yourself medicating without great results, consider chiropractic care. A visit to Lakewoods Chiropractic in Forest Lake, MN, could help you find some much needed natural relief. Please call Lakewoods Chiropractic at 651-464-0800 to make an appointment or email [email protected].

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