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Motor cortex and LBP

Motor cortex and LBP

14th August 2017

Is your Brain to blame for your lower back pain?

If you’re living in the western world, chances are you’ll be a part of the ‘Western Epidemic’ experiencing low back pain (LBP) at some stage throughout your life. In fact, 50-80% of adults within the general population will experience LBP over the course of their lives, with 15-30% experiencing LBP at any one time!

While most of us will recover from an episode of LBP within a month, it is very common to have a recurrence of pain in the subsequent 12 month period. A consideration into the cause of why this happens is thorough changes in the postural muscles of the trunk. Changes such as a delay in the activation of the deep abdominal and lower back muscles (Hodges and Richardson 1996, Leinonen et al 2001), paired with over activation of the superficial trunk muscles (Radebold et al, 2001) are considerations as a causative factors for recurrent LBP, Particularly as most of these changes linger after the initial pain symptoms have left.

But what does this mean?!!!

Essentially, LBP can be associated with a reorganising of the networks in the brain that control the deep trunk muscles that surround and support the spine. The result of this is that these deep stability muscles are delayed in providing support to the lower back during movement and activity. This lack of support can be a contributing factor to those of us struggling with persistent lower back pain.

Where to from here?

Retraining the brain to overcome these postural deficits can be achieved through ‘skilled motor training’ (Tsao and Hodges 2008). Clinical Pilates is a great example of skilled motor training as it specifically targets the deep trunk muscles that surround the spine. Skilled motor training has also been shown to provide greater change to the networks in the brain when compared to regular strength training (Adkina et al 2006).

This article is for information purposes only. Please consult your Osteopath or primary healthcare professional for further information.