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If your back hurts it could be in your head — literally

New research from Northwestern Medicine has found that chronic pain in the lower back can actually be traced to irregularities in brain connections.

A. Vania Apkarian, senior author of the study and a professor of physiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine says that his team has “shown abnormalities in brain structure connections may be enough to push someone to develop chronic pain once they have an injury…The brain abnormalities exist in the general population, but only those people with a back injury go on to develop the chronic pain.”

MRIs of those with new back injuries predicted with 85% accuracy whose pain would be long-lasting. Scientists hope this research provides new insights into the treatment of chronic pain, which costs up to $635 billion a year to treat, according to Northwestern.

The findings were published in the journal Pain on Monday.

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