New Information on Pain Pathways From Brain to Muscle
Scientists are studying back pain to find ways to prevent it. In this study researchers measure signals from the brain to the back (erector spinae) muscles.
Two groups were tested. Patients with low back pain were in the first group. Healthy, pain free adults were in the second (control) group. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was applied to the brain. Electrical activity of the low back muscles was measured at L4.
Activity of the left and right muscles was compared for patients and controls. The results showed that there is reduced activity along the pathway between the brain and the low back muscles.
The authors aren't sure what the results mean fully. With further study they hope to be able to use this information to help patients. Perhaps drugs can be found to alter the pain pathway from brain to muscles. It's possible that motor training of the muscles might change pain patterns.
Paul H. Strutton, PhD, et al. Corticospinal Excitability in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain. In Journal of Spinal Disorders. October 2005. Vol. 18. No. 5. Pp. 420-424.