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?
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.