Marin Movement Center Physical Therapy Blog

Marion Kregeloh, PT, CFP provides health information for physical therapy, osteoporosis, chronic pain, physical therapy, orthopedic therapy, Feldenkrais, in the Marin Movement Center blog.

Back Pain and the Brain

Posted by Marion Kregeloh
Marion Kregeloh
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on Sunday, 08 April 2012 in Chronic Pain

50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Many of them experience depression, anxiety and memory problems. New studies have shown that the brain loses its grey matter when suffering from chronic pain. The longer the pain lasts, the more likely the brain will suffer. While some people give up hope and adjust somehow to a life with pain, others are actively involved to find the treatment that will finally bring relief from disabling pain.

The good news is that the brain can reverse its losses and rebuild the cortical layer of the brain. Once the effective treatment reduces or eliminates the constant pain, the changes in the brain reverse themselves. I highly recommend to anyone with chronic pain to not give up but keep searching for the treatment that will work best. Chronic pain is never a quick fix and as a physical therapist working with chronic pain, I have to be creative and reinvent my own professional experience over and over again. Body awareness and sensing, proprioception, breathing, relaxation and gradual progressive movement exercises are helpful to allow the body to learn and tolerate movement again. Some people require surgery or invasive procedures or pain stimulators for pain management.

When comparing the brains from patients with chronic pain to a peer group without pain, the studies have shown that six regions in the brain are thinner and less densely packed in the brains of those with pain. Three of these areas are part of the frontal cortex and are responsible for attention, judgment and reasoning. Other areas affected help process mood and pain signals. Six months after getting spinal surgery or injections, subjects who underwent challenging cognitive tests showed no difference anymore compared to their healthy peers.

With the loss of density in brain areas such as the prefrontal cortex, mood, memory, higher-order thinking and social judgment are affected and explain why people with chronic pain experience problems with some or all of the above.

Treating chronic pain successfully needs to be the top priority for the medical team of each patient. Once the pain is gone or reduced significantly, patients not only experience physical comfort but cognitive, mental and emotional wellbeing.

For more information contact Marion Kregeloh at Ext. 36 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Marion Kregeloh, PT, CFP


If you have any questions regarding exercise routines or want more information, please contact Marion Kregeloh, PT,  at 415.479.1765.

Marin Movement Center - Helping Your Body Thrive

Your source for physical therapy in Marin

Locations in San Rafael and Larkspur

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