Can Your Head Be The Cause Of Back Pain?

Back pain is a normal complaint among individuals affecting up to 80% of a given population once in their lifetime. Regardless of age, it’s significantly more common among adults aged between 35 and 55 years. Research also shows that back pain may be painful and uncomfortable but it is not usually serious.

What are the possible causes of back pain?

  1. Strain: The human back comprises of a complex structures of ligaments, muscles, tendons, bones and disks. Segments of the spine are also cushioned with cartilage like pads and any Problem in form of straining, lifting and awkward movement of any of these components will lead to back pain including a muscle spasm.
  2. Structural problems: The human back structural components might rapture, bulge and abnormal curvature of the disk and the spine respectively will cause the back pain. When it raptures, there will be more pressure on nerves resulting in back pain.
  3. Cancer of the spine: If there is a tumor located on the spine, it may press against a nerve, resulting to pain. Any small discomfort the spine nerves get results to back pain due to the interruption of their compatibility. This will include infections of the spine i.e. fever.
  4. Everyday activities or poor posture: An individual’s daily activities leads to some posture being acquired. Poor postures include; bending awkwardly, pushing, pulling, and lifting of things, muscle tension, standing for long periods, sitting in hunched position for long time like driving and bending down for long periods. All this will eventually make you strain your back and acquire a poor posture that later will lead to back pain.
  5. Other causes: They include sleep disorders, bad mattress, drug abuse, swelling at the back and numbness around genitals or anus or buttocks.

Connection between the brain and back pain

The brain is in the head. Pain messages travel along the peripheral nervous system until they reach the spinal cord. According to the gate control theory, the spinal nerve gates in the spinal cord control the flow of pain messages from the peripheral nerves to the brain. Many factors determine how the spinal nerve gates will manage the pain signal. The factors include competition from other incoming nerve messages (e.g heat and vibrations) and the intensity of the pain message, and the signals from the brain telling the spinal cord to increase or decrease the priority of the pain signal. Depending on how the gate processes the signals, the message can be handled by;

The gate control theory provides a framework to explain this by complex interaction of the structures of the nervous system and the connection between the brain and the back pain. Therefore, this explains that head does not cause back pain.

What does a Neurologist do for back pain

Treatment given by neurologists varies widely depending on the patient’s symptoms, severity of the pain, disability and findings on examination and testing, Conservative or physical measures/ therapy are mostly recommended such as posture mechanics, exercises, heat and rehabilitation. Medication can be issued but in a short period requiring close monitoring by the doctor. Surgery is only considered in patients with significant structural compromise of the nervous system or spine, which do not respond to other conservative therapies. If there is persistent pain and nerve compression, which can lead to a muscle weakness, surgery can be performed. Neurologist recommend for preventive measures like exercises, flexibility, reducing or no smoking, body weight management and postures when standing or sitting.

Gary Starkman Dr. Starkman, a top Neurologist in NYC, is the Medical Director and founder of New York Neurology Associates. He is Board Certified in Neurology with a subspecialty certification in Pain Medicine.

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