It’s not uncommon for people to seek out their chiropractor when they have a sore back. Unfortunately, by the time many people seek help, the pain in their back has been going on for a very long time and is considered chronic.
What we know is that in most cases, the pain is the final chapter in a long book of dysfunction in the body. When our bodies have not been functioning well for a long time (through the presence of subluxation), the nerve system is affected and the body sets off a series of alarm bells to inspire us into action. These alarm bells are symptoms, like back pain for example. It’s the nerves that allow the symptomology to be there. Thankfully, symptoms are commonly the last thing to arise and the first thing to go.
But did you know, that only 10% of the nerve system is responsible for producing pain, while the other 90% is responsible for other bodily functions, like our organs, glands, systems and muscles? Good grief, perhaps there is more to having chronic back pain than just being uncomfortable. Let’s have a look at that.
Firstly, it’s important to note that back pain often comes hand in hand with poor posture or poor structure. They are BFF’s. It has been found that with more forward and slumped postures, extra undue stress occurs in localised areas that aren’t made to take this stress. These poor joints take the load that was not intended for them. It’s then, that we begin to experience pain.
There have been many studies on the effect that chronic pain has on our brain health (and size), our overall happiness and our organ functions.
Let’s begin with the squishy thing in our skulls. Our brains. Our brain chemistry begins to change when we’ve been experiencing back pain that extends for six months or longer. OUR BRAIN ACTUALLY STARTS TO CHANGE IN SIZE AND FUNCTION. The brain can shrink by as much as 11% in chronic back pain sufferers. Now the brain constantly changes with time anyway, but the amount of change that happens in somebody with chronic pain would occur in somebody with NO pain over a period of 10-20 years. WOAH. Furthermore, the area of the brain that is effected by chronic back pain is the area responsible for controlling social behaviour, making emotional assessments and decision making.
It’s no wonder people in pain are no joy to be around.
Just on that note, another study found that people with more slumped posture showed lower self-esteem, more fear, less arousal, more self-focus and a slower rate of speech than people with upright posture. These people even used more negative emotion words. Even the most Zen of us can find that we are less positive in this forward posture.
So, we now know that our BRAIN SIZE and our EMOTIONS can be impacted by back pain, what about other organs?
Our lungs. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, the organ responsible for providing our amazing bodies with oxygen. Interestingly, it’s been found that people with mild and severe persistent asthma have postures with forward head and shoulders, elevated and rolled in shoulders and less flexibility in their back. Remember that these postures are also linked with back pain!! Crazy the cycle that ensues.
So let’s recap for a moment.
Poor structure → can lead to back pain → pain can lead to change in brain shape
→pain changes our emotive state and happiness
→pain can decrease the function of our lungs
→pain can shorten our lives by 13%
I didn’t just add that last one in for dramatic effect. That one comes from an Australian study that looked at the relationship between back pain and mortality rates. Yep. Scary.
Tell your friends. For the case of their (and your) happiness, health and lifespan – it’s time to get their aches and pains, their structure and the function of their body looked at.
Yours in health,
Caroline de Groot