Patients with chronic pain often suffer from depression, have trouble concentrating and struggle to remain positive. Current research shows why – chronic pain has an adverse effect on the brain, but it can be reversed with pain relief.
“Treating chronic pain can restore normal brain function in humans.”
In a recent study in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers at McGill University in Montreal studied 18 people that had been suffering for six or more months from chronic low back pain. When compared to people with no chronic pain, they found that these people had decreased brain gray matter and impaired cognitive ability. Using an MRI, researchers observed thinner tissue and abnormal brain activity while subjects performed a cognitive attention-requiring task. In other words, chronic pain affected areas of the brain that deal with depression and impaired concentration, memory, mood, and social judgment.
Pain Relief and the Brain
Now here’s the interesting part: when the pain was relieved there was a reverse in the deterioration of the brain – the area of the brain (known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) was no longer thinner than the control group. Additionally, there was no abnormal activity observed by MRI when the chronic pain patients performed a cognitive task. In the three people that reported no pain relief from treatment, there was no regeneration of gray matter. This study suggests that chronic pain takes a toll on the brain, but with relief it can regenerate itself.
Effective Chronic Pain Treatment
Each subject in the study chose to have back surgery or facet joint injections for pain relief and were reexamined six months after treatment. Unfortunately we don’t believe that surgery and facet joint injections (involving cortisone) are effective treatments because they don’t always reach the root cause of the problem.
As for cortisone injections, they can do more harm than good and tend to have an adverse effect on bone and soft tissue healing. They limit the amount of calcium taken in by bone, thereby weakening the fibro-osseous junction that is usually the root cause of the pain. They also inhibit the release of growth hormone that is used to heal injuries; they inhibit the synthesis of proteins and collagen and have an overall weakening effect on joints.
In my opinion, the most effective way to treat chronic pain is through Prolotherapy injections. Prolotherapy treatjments stimulates the body to repair painful injured areas when the body’s natural healing process is not able to do the job on its own. Just as the brain is able to regenerate itself, injured joints can regenerate collagen and soft tissue through an inflammatory process. Prolotherapy is able to induce an inflammatory process to lead to healing, pain relief and ultimately better mental clarity, moods and more.
Larn more about Prolotherapy research
If low back surgeries are so unsuccessful, why do surgeons continue to perform them? The main reason is because they find abnormalities on MRI scans. Ironically most MRI findings have nothing to do with why the person has pain and this is the reason for most back surgery failures.
Sadly many surgeons proceed with low back surgery after misdiagnosing the cause of pain. Even worse, the uses of MRI’s seem to be increasing and are even being performed in surgeons’ offices. A study recently released by the Stanford University School of Medicine showed that MRI scan rates increase when a doctor buys or leases MRI equipment. The study also showed that patients were 34% more likely to receive back surgery when they had an MRI scan done by their doctor. In other words, seeing a doctor who has an in-office MRI scan increases your chances of getting a scan and getting surgery. Interestingly, the study author noted that MRIs and surgery are controversial because there are no proven benefits. She goes on to say that most people with low back pain do not need an MRI and even fewer need surgery. Therefore a patient should take caution when his doctor prescribes an MRI, especially if it is in the same office because your chances for receiving surgery may be increased. Unfortunately most doctors send patients straight to an imaging test without performing a physical examination or health history to determine the root cause of the problem. Since imaging tests tend to show abnormalities, even in patients with no pain at all, root causes of pain are misdiagnosed and wrong treatments are chosen. At Caring Medical, our Prolotherapy physician Dr. Ross Hauser performs a physical examination on each and every patient, even those who bring in MRI or X-ray results, to determine the exact cause of pain. He then chooses the best course of Prolotherapy treatment to heal the injury and rid the patient of pain. The average patient receives 3-6 treatments spaced four weeks apart. So if your doctor prescribes an MRI, take caution. A physical examination is essential in diagnosing pain.
A Case History
Failed Surgery, Prolotherapy, and PRP – Knee Pain
As you know, we receive emails from all over the world. This email really hit home and addresses exactly what we have been trying to tell people with our newsletters and written materials. Surgery did not fix his problem. He tried Prolotherapy, but did not receive Hackett-Hemwall Prolotherapy. Now he is contemplating one shot of platelet rich plasma (PRP) to help his injured knee. As we have said before, one shot is not going to heal the entire area.
Estradiol and Prolotherapy
One of our jobs at Caring Medical is to help our patients have the best chance to heal from their pain. Prolotherapy is the treatment of choice in our opinion for lax (injured) tendons and ligament which cause pain.
There are plenty of things a person can do to aid healing. A good diet and proper exercise are a given. Most people intuitively know why they are important, and we can educate folks in the particulars. Not so apparent is the effect that hormones can have on the healing response.
WHY WE DON’T RELY ON MRIs
It is prudent for a patient to consider why he or she is getting an MRI. If a patient wants to get surgery then go ahead and get an MRI. There is almost no other reason to get one. MRI’s cannot tell a person what is causing their pain, it only confirms what is known by the history and physical examination.
Most MRI findings have nothing to do with why the person has pain and is thus the reason for most ‘failed surgery syndromes.’ Almost all people even after surgery are not pain free. Surgery for pain in the best case scenario should be done only after all of the conservative treatments have been tried and failed. This includes Prolotherapy! ● (MRI – Knee Research Study)
For the Athlete
● New Video Prolotherapy for Runners with Foot and Ankle Injuries
● New Video Prolotherapy for Runners with a Heel Spur or Foot Pain
Enhancing Healing Through Diet
● Diet Soda: What’s the deal?
● Alternative foods for casein, dairy allergies or sensitivities
● Understanding Food: Back to the Basics