IS YOUR CHRONIC NECK PAIN AFFECTING YOUR BRAIN AND NERVOUS SYSTEM?
"According to an NIH study released last year, some 25.3 million American adults have experienced chronic pain every day for the past three months. Chronic pain is a poorly understood condition in which the nervous system consistently fires out pain signals for a long period of time, sometimes without an actual injury to trigger it, and it turns out that it might change our bodies on a genetic level. A new study out of McGill University is one of the first to find that chronic pain may change the DNA in our immune systems and brain." From the January 28 issue of MedicalDaily.com (Chronic Pain Changes DNA In The Brain And Immune System) by Lecia Bushak
"Chronic musculoskeletal pain is one of the most intractable clinical problems faced by clinicians and can be devastating for patients. Perhaps no other symptom induces such fear and loathing as chronic pain. Most images of pain are focused on portraying negative emotions and the intrusive nature of the pain experience. Clinicians as people fear chronic pain, a symptom that demands attention and intrudes into every aspect of a person's life. Clinicians also loathe chronic pain, perhaps the symptom that brings more patients into our practices than any other but also the symptom most likely to make us feel helpless as healers" Dr. Leslie Crofford from a 2015 issue of the Transactions of the American Clinical And Climatological Association (Chronic Pain: Where the Body Meets the Brain)
"Some recent studies have also shown that chronic pain can actually affect a person’s brain chemistry and even change the wiring of the nervous system. Cells in the spinal cord and brain of a person with chronic pain, especially in the section of the brain that processes emotion, deteriorate more quickly than normal, exacerbating many of the depression-like symptoms. It becomes physically more difficult for people with chronic pain to process multiple things at once and react to ongoing changes in their environment, limiting their ability to focus even more. Sleep also becomes difficult, because the section of the brain that regulates sense-data also regulates the sleep cycle. Untreated pain creates a downward spiral of chronic pain symptoms, so it is always best to treat pain early and avoid chronic pain." Integrative Pain Center of Arizona (The Long-Term Effects of Untreated Chronic Pain)
"Chronic pain is certainly a difficult condition to live with, affecting everything from your activity levels and your ability to work to your personal relationships and emotional states. But did you know that it could also be affecting your brain and the way that it functions? Chronic pain doesn’t just affect a singular region of the brain, but in fact results in changes to multiple important regions, which are involved in many critical functions and processes. Various studies over the years have found changes to the hippocampus, in addition to reduction of gray matter in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, amygdala, brainstem and right insular cortex, to name a few. Pain’s effects on the brain may seem overwhelming, but there’s good research to suggest that the changes are not permanent; they can be reversed when patients receive treatment for their painful conditions. “Gray matter abnormalities found in chronic pain,” a 2009 study concluded, “do not reflect brain damage, but rather are a reversible consequence … which normalizes when the pain is adequately treated.” The 2011 study concurred, suggesting that “treating chronic pain can restore normal brain function in humans.”" From Brenda Poppy's post (How Pain Can Seriously Affect Your Brain) on the Pain Management Resource Blog
We already know that about 1/3 of all Americans (about 100,000,000 million people) are dealing with some degree of Chronic Pain (HERE). And of these, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, not quite one third are coping with HEADACHES and CHRONIC NECK PAIN --- tied for the number two cause of Chronic Pain behind LOW BACK PAIN. If you are one of the millions of people dealing with Chronic Neck Pain, what do you do when THE MEDICATIONS no longer work? It's a question that each and every one of you in this boat has or will be asking, if for no other reason, simply because of what the science says your pain is doing to your brain.
I showed you via the first link of the previous paragraph that those of you living with Chronic Pain are degenerating your brains at a rate 10 times higher than the general population. Unfortunately, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to Chronic Neck Pain, some people wind up living with things like FIBROMYALGIA and CENTRAL SENSITIZATION. Allow me to show you how crazy the newest studies on this topic really are specifically for those of you struggling with Chronic Neck Pain.
Knowing this information is great. After all, knowledge really is power (HERE). However, the real rubber-meets-the-road question is what are you who are struggling going to do with it? In other words, how can you, the Chronic Neck Pain sufferer, use this information to help your cause, decrease your pain, and increase your ability to function on a day to day basis? Glad you asked.
Don't kid yourself. This list could be infinite if I had the time to sit down and write a book. HERE is a bit more in-depth information on how you might accomplish some of these things. And as I always suggest to people, after studying the situation, sit down and create a personalized EXIT STRATEGY for yourself --- a way to take your life back and start living again. If you want to see some examples of this in action, take a look at some of our CASE HISTORIES.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).