Chronic Pain: Is it Body or Brain?

Chronic pain is a significant problem in Australia and the western world.  If you have ever suffered chronic pain, you will know the debilitating effect it can have on your life. The effects of chronic pain can be wide-reaching, extending beyond the significant physical issues, to increased work absences and resultant economic stress on individuals, families, communities and even governments (1). 

Chiropractic clinics tend to see a large number of patients suffering with chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes, and our knowledge in the area continues to increase as new research emerges. The following recent article published by Australian Spinal Research Foundation discusses the effect that the brain and neuroplasticity has on chronic pain:

“It will come as no surprise to chiropractors (or indeed any health-care practitioner) that an alarming number of adults in the western world are chronic pain sufferers. It’s a problem that comes in many forms, from tangible disorders like back pain to more mysterious issues like fibromyalgia, but it usually results in a couple of predictable things: painkillers, and frustration as many chronic pain sufferers are told ‘its all in your head.’

The painkiller ‘solution’ is not without a significant amount of risk, albeit risk most sufferers are happy to take in order to reduce their suffering. Yet some are calling prescription painkiller use a ‘crisis.’ In the USA alone in 2014, there were some 50 deaths per day due to prescription medication overdoses [1]. This is to say nothing of the multiple other side effects tied up with long-term painkiller dependency.

For chiropractors, there is still another concern: our goal isn’t to dull the pain with opioids, but restore optimal function thus allowing the body to heal.

New research gives us some interesting information to ponder along these lines. It appears that chronic pain actually causes neuroplastic changes. New Scientist reports that, “Researchers are starting to tackle the problem by rethinking the root causes of chronic pain. Rather than seeing it as a lingering version of the acute form, they have begun to recognise it as a complex disorder of the nervous system that changes the brain’s structure, chemistry and activity [2].”Read more

Coomera Wellness Centre is a multi-disciplinary allied health practice.  Our services include chiropractic, podiatry, dietetics, remedial massage and acupuncture. If you would like to find out more about chronic pain, or discuss your pain with one of our practitioners, please call us on (07) 5580 5655.

To find out more about our clinic please click the following link.  We are located on Hope Island Road, Helensvale and have been part of the Gold Coast community since 2003.

Taimela S, Kujala UM, Salminen JJ & Viljanen T. The prevalence of low back pain among children and adolescents: a nationwide, cohort-based questionnaire survey in Finland. Spine, 1997, 22: 1132–1136.

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