Chronic lower back pain doesn't just hurt. It also appears to cause thinning of certain regions of the brain, which may lead to cognitive impairments, a study shows. Researchers studying the link between pain and such thinning had hoped that successfully treating back pain would halt that process. Instead, it reversed it. Six months after surgery or spinal injections, a brain region associated with pain -- the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex -- had thickened. "We thought it would be able to slow down the thinning, but to actually recover was pretty amazing," says study researcher Laura S. Stone, PhD, a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal.
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