Back Hurts, Brain Shrinks
March 22, 2003 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Back pain causes brain shrinkage. I think a lot of people have back pain, then.
posted by nyxxxx (24 comments total)
Those of us who suffer from chronic back pain might not take kindly to your smartass comment.
posted by mcwetboy at 2:32 PM on March 22, 2003

You managed to prove my point. Thank you.
posted by nyxxxx at 2:37 PM on March 22, 2003

Your point should not have been made in the first place. Asshole.
posted by mcwetboy at 2:38 PM on March 22, 2003

I don't know, it gives me some sort of excuse for why I can't balance my checkbook.
posted by padraigin at 2:38 PM on March 22, 2003

Those of us who suffer from chronic back pain might not take kindly to your smartass comment.

Hahahah... Looking for attention, mcwetboy?
posted by SweetJesus at 2:47 PM on March 22, 2003

Not really; my sense of humour simply fails when it comes to this subject. Yours would too, if you were in my position.
posted by mcwetboy at 2:48 PM on March 22, 2003

...were particularly noticeable in parts of the gray matter that are known to be important in making "emotional assessments," including decision making and control of everyday social behavior.

I'm curious what is causing the damage: the psychological effect of the pain, or the biological/physical changes in the body that cause humans to feel pain.

Either way, very interesting.
posted by letitrain at 2:53 PM on March 22, 2003

[mcwetboy : sitting bolt upright?]


I suffer from backache averagely badly after I stuffed my grandfathers car into a ditch about 10 years ago. Been getting more and more brainless ever since. Must be that.

Or the beer is killing off thingies... braincells.
posted by twine42 at 2:54 PM on March 22, 2003

[Bad day. Sorry. Will try to move along here ...]

Some of the painkillers and anti-inflammatories available tend to dull the mind a bit, in my experience, and chronic pain in general is quite exhausting -- try thinking when you're bone tired. Whether that has anything to do with the "shrinkage" described by the article is not made clear by the article. Lots of reasons not to be thinking at 100 per cent besides a shrivelled noggin.
posted by mcwetboy at 3:00 PM on March 22, 2003

I've noticed that a large proportion of people complaining about bad backs are overweight slobs who like to say " I have a bad back!" and then go sit on the couch and drink vodka and eat buckets of ice cream until they pass out.

With that in mind, I have only one other comment.

It's the weekend, and my back hurts.
posted by bradth27 at 3:41 PM on March 22, 2003

who needs a noggin when you got busch beer! sorry, couldn't resist
posted by poopy at 3:42 PM on March 22, 2003

I've had about 4 headaches in my entire life and have never had bachache. I can only admire people, some of whom I know, who go through that shit, most of them without ever bothering us with their troubles. It must really be a pain in the b.. Where are all those advances in medecine when we really need them?
posted by Zootoon at 3:42 PM on March 22, 2003

bradth27 : I'm overweight (still, but losing) but I sit in a chair that gives proper support at home, in the car and in the office. Muscles got shredded when I hit a ditch at about 90mph and came to a halt using the door handles for brakes. Oh the wonders of being 17 and stupid.

Bad posture can account for a lot of relatively mild backache, but worse can have many many causes. Mine is basically muscles that occasionally decide to go into a cascade of spasms in an attempt to protect my spine. Nice. Chiropractors and Oseopaths can help, but when it gets worse there's not much other than lots of pain killers.

I have what I consider to be mild backache... I've only been truly fucked up two or three times in ten years. What seriously pisses me off though is people who get 'crippling' backache which gets 'solved' with little more than Paracetamol - people like my fiancee's uncle who can't possibly move until he's taken two Solpadeine, an over the counter Paracetamol & Codine tablet...
posted by twine42 at 3:57 PM on March 22, 2003


I'm sorry, perhaps you misunderstood me. My comments were only to be directed towards my own fat ass. Now leave me alone, I'm trying to drink.
posted by bradth27 at 3:59 PM on March 22, 2003

*grin* Only the first part was aimed at you... the rest was aimed at the world in general.

If you're drinking Speckled Hen or Guinness, have one on me...
posted by twine42 at 4:05 PM on March 22, 2003

who needs a noggin when you got busch beer! sorry, couldn't resist

who needs a noggin or bush beer when you got Tits'n'Ass Beer ! sorry couldn't resist either
posted by Wet Spot at 5:16 PM on March 22, 2003

I'd recommend anyone with a bad back to try accupuncture. Unfortantly my back problems are congenital (from birth) so the relief was temporary but it did highlite how the body can kick into healing overdrive when pricked in the right place. In particular if you have something like twine42 the muscles have a memory and the accupuncture will release and re-balance.
posted by stbalbach at 5:25 PM on March 22, 2003

10 subjects + 20 controls = sample size too small for medical significance.

However, I'm with mcwetboy: serious back pain is exhausting. Mine is mostly related to a connective tissue disorder and posture problems caused by years of trying to avoid the pain. I've worn out my physical therapists and am scheduled to meet with a physiatrist, which should be interesting.

I bet I'm an inch taller with corrected posture.
posted by swerve at 5:49 PM on March 22, 2003

I'd recommend anyone with a bad back to try acupuncture.

Yeah, I can attest to this. My dad's an acupuncturist, and I can't tell you how many people have come to see him for back pain. Usually, acupuncture works really, really well.
posted by SweetJesus at 5:56 PM on March 22, 2003

The sample is very small, as swerve said, and it's difficult to draw strong conclusions from it. However, it agrees with other stuff in the biomedical literature.

About a decade ago, a group did CAT scans on a number of victims of long-term torture (by some South American regime). It found atrophic changes in their brains. Reason unknown, but the researchers speculated that it may have been due to the body's production of corticosteroids, which are a reaction to stress.

This is highly disturbing. It suggests (just 'suggests', this area of research is still pretty sparse, I think) that chronic pain is really, really bad for you. Not only is it unpleasant, but it does real, physical damage.

I developed chronic back pain about 18 months ago, probably due to a quarter century of jogging. A recent MRI of my spine looks like Dresden after the bombing. I, um, have a deep personal interest in this kind of research.

Now, where the heck did I leave my car keys?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:44 PM on March 22, 2003

Hmph. False logic, nyxxxx. If a given dependant statement (if a, then b) is true, logic dictates that only the contrapositive is also true.

If people here on MeFi have shrunken brains, they might have back pain. They could also just be stupid. The only conclusion you can accurately make is that if back pains promote brain shrinkage, those without shrunken brains do not have back pain.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:38 AM on March 23, 2003

A past life of mine. What makes this not a plug is the same direct experience that people in pain have.

For four years I worked with physical therapists running a Rehabilitation facility that specialized in lumbar and cervical spinal weakness.

The human spine can support only 20lbs or so of weight. So what does the rest of the work? The musculature. Most of us are familiar with back exercises or the "lower back machine" at health clubs. That machine is essentially a derivative of Arthur Jones' Nautilus Machine. It may have a smoother weight stack, or nice illustrations, but it suffers from one flaw.

The use of the hips and gluteal musculature.

Now, acupuncture is nice, (as well as ice, an external anti-inflammatory), but the true problem lies in weakness.

Basically, the Arthur Jones who invented Nautilus, whom most exercise companies ripped off (and many nowadays don't even know that they did), realized for years that his low back machine machine had a major flaw.

In 1989, he come out with a new line of equipment, MedX -Medical exericse. It prevents the motion of the hips through a series of restraints. It also prevents the advantage of torso weight due to gravity (using a counterbalance mechanism).

In testing (much of which I was involved with at a physical therapy facility), we saw the impossible. People with extreme weakness increase their strength three fold, five fold, ten fold. (yes, 1000%). This would be impossible, unless, they were atrophied to begin with (some of them healthy, young, pain free peole, who practiced regular weight training.)

All because current exercises (stretching, roman chair, etc.) does little to nothing for lower back strength. We saw for chronic pain people a marked reduction in pain, as well as quicker recover from episodes (usually from 1 day down from 1 week), from one to two exercise sessions a week.

Medx online
posted by filmgeek at 8:58 AM on March 23, 2003

filmgeek: true or not, that comment was pure infomercial. If that's not a plug...
posted by letitrain at 8:05 PM on March 23, 2003

I'm sorry letitrain, I know how it came out.

It's just that I worked with back pain people for four years and found it frustrating watching them do what anatomically makes no sense whatsoever.

Personally, I don't buy into exercise that equally doesn't pass the common sense bar. That's why I became involved with this stuff. (I left in in 96' and now I'm involved with film.)

I've seen people also use workman's comp to manipulate the system. Which pissed me off to no degree.

Take it all then with a grain of salt.
posted by filmgeek at 8:22 PM on March 23, 2003

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