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New study results could predict development of chronic back pain

It can be difficult knowing whether a back injury will heal itself quickly or lead to chronic back pain. But for a worker, a back injury that lingers can significantly impact their ability to do their job. But now, researchers believe there may be a way to identify chronic back pain early on.

Forty-six individuals who experienced initial back pain were given brain scans for a year-long period. At the end of the year, the individuals were broken down into two groups: those who developed chronic back pain and those whose back pain dissipated. Researchers were looking for differences in the brain’s “white matter” between the two groups. What did they find?

There was, in fact, a difference in the structure of the white matter between the two groups. The results also showed, when compared with healthy subjects, which of the subjects that suffered back pain would then go on to experience chronic back pain.

Source: LA Times, “Even before injury, chronic back pain may start in the brain,” Melissa Healy, Sept. 18, 2013

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