Chronic back pain can be serious or may be something that can be easily taken care of with medical treatment. Many people who have back pain from time to time believe they have chronic back pain. Chronic back pain, however, is back pain that the patient has experienced for longer than three months. Periodic back pain that has been present less than that time is considered acute pain.
Back pain, even chronic back pain, is often very hard for a doctor to diagnose. A person may have numerous tests and X-rays that all come back negative for problems and still be sufferers of chronic back pain. On the other hand, some patients can have X-rays show up serious problem and not feel any pain. In some instances, there may be serious problems with the spine, where the person should feel severe pain or discomfort, but they feel little or no pain.
Chronic back pain is very common today. It is, in fact, the most expensive benign medical condition in the workforce and country. It is also the largest reason for limited activities in people under the age of 45. In addition to it lasting at least 3 months, it is also usually a result of serious trauma to the spine or a degenerative condition of the spine. Other possible causes of chronic back pain are fibrositis, inflammation and metabolic bone conditions.
Chronic back pain, in many cases, is in the lower part of the back, thus referred to as chronic low back pain. Although doctors may give a good prognosis for chronic lower back pain, it still affects many individuals in their daily lives, often leaving many disabled for a long time. Chronic back pain is probably one of the most frustrating physical ailments, especially if doctors can’t find any “visible” reason for the pain.
After much research, doctors have now determined that the brain of a patient with chronic back pain may age as much as 20 times faster than normal. The reason is because chronic back pain is said to shrink the brain, sometimes as much as 11%. The part of the brain that it affects is the part that helps us with memory and processing information also referred to as the gray matter of the brain. Research also believes that the brain goes back to its normal size when the back pain goes away.
Another problem brought on by chronic back pain is the way it affects the quality of our life, leaving us to feel unproductive, anxious and often depressed. Chronic back pain will often cause sleeping disorders and insomnia. The reason for this is because during the day we are doing and thinking of other things other than our back pain. When we go to bed, however, our brain “shuts down” to other thoughts other than sleep, so we are more aware of the back pain.