Are Neck and Low Back Pain Related?

Patients with chronic low back pain often ask me if their neck or extremity pain is associated with their chronic low back pain?  The answer is often, YES.  

A January 2021 study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders looked at this question. They looked at nine studies involving 34,492 people with persistent low back pain. 

People with persistent low back pain find it common to have neck pain or pain in other regions. This study found it happens more often in women.  People with greater disability also reported more co-occurring pain with their persistent low back pain.  They concluded that more study needs to be done to understand this relationship. 

What possible reasons could there be for these other pains?

I personally believe there are at least 2 reasons for these associated pains.

  1. Inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. Cytokines are produced in degenerated discs and spinal joints. These inflammatory cytokines can circulate to other areas of the body. 
  2. Mechanical compensation and postural changes. Pain changes our patterns of movement, as well as postures. Increased loads to these compensating areas can create more wear and tear. 

 

How can our treatments help?

Cox distraction manipulation can improve the health of discs and facets. It restores movement to the joints and improves circulation to the discs. Therapies such as positive galvanic current push out pain producing chemicals. Posture training exercises reduce in these compensatory areas.  

 

Reference: BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2021;22(1):91

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