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Link between persistent Back Pain and Headaches identified

Your body is linked together in interesting ways

As anyone who suffers from persistent back pain or persistent headaches will tell you, they can be debilitating. Now, new research has found that the two are often linked.

Researchers at the University of Warwick revealed that people with persistent back pain or persistent headaches are twice as likely to suffer from both conditions, compared to people who don’t suffer from either headaches or back pain. They conducted a systematic review of 14 studies that included a total of 460,195 patients.

They also found that there is a stronger association between the two conditions among people who suffer from migraines.

As a result of the findings, the team has suggested that a joined up approach should be taken to the treatment of both conditions, and they are recommending that further research is carried out to uncover the most effective treatment option that can help alleviate both conditions.

This could provide relief for thousands of people. Persistent low back pain is defined as pain that is experienced day after day. It affects around one in five people.

People diagnosed with chronic headache disorders will experience headaches most days for at least three months. This affects approximately one in 30 people. According to the researchers, around one in 100 people in the UK have both, equating to over half a million people.

Professor Martin Underwood, from Warwick Medical School, said that the research indicates the way in which these conditions are approached may need to change because their research suggests there could be a common factor causing both kinds of pain in some people.

“It suggests the possibility of an underpinning biological relationship, at least in some people with headache and back pain, that could also be a target for treatment,” he explained.

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Without more research, however, there is currently no answer to what that link might be. Professor Underwood suggested it might be related to how people react to the pain, or it could be associated with how the brain interprets pain signals in some individuals.

He also noted that there are treatments for chronic headaches, whereas persistent back pain is often treated using exercise and manual therapy, as well as cognitive behavioural therapy and psychological support in some cases.

“The researchers suggest that those types of behavioural support systems may also help people living with chronic headaches,” he added.

Chinese Medicine techniques can help.

If you suffer from chronic headaches, persistent back pain or both, and have tried a number of traditional options without much effect, you could explore Tui Na massage.

This is a technique used in Chinese medicine, often in conjunction with acupuncture, that’s used to treat pain, structural misalignment, sports injuries and orthopaedic problems, among other issues.

It is also used to treat things like numbness, dizziness, stress, anxiety, muscle spasms and many other issues. It doesn’t treat the symptoms, but instead focuses on the causes of those symptoms.

Anyone who suffers from back pain and also smokes may want to try to kick the habit after research published earlier this year revealed that smoking makes people more likely to develop chronic back pain.

There are many things you can do to look after your overall health. If you visit a Chinese medicine practitioner they will provide advice about various lifestyle changes you can make to improve your condition, as well as giving you appropriate treatments, like Tui Na massage. Get in touch today, we’ll get you feeling better.


Matthew Budd BSc (Hons)