Migraine and tension-type headache sufferers are more likely to have low back pain

German researchers examined the possible connection between headaches and low back pain in a study published in the recent issue of journal Pain. They questioned 5605 headache sufferers about the frequency and type of their headaches and about the frequency of their low back pain. Of these 5605 people 255 (4.5%) had chronic headache and the rest had episodic (less than 15 headache days each month). Migraine was diagnosed in 2933 subjects, of whom 182 (6.2%) had chronic migraines. Tension-type headache was diagnosed in 1253 respondents, of whom 50 (4.0%) had chronic tension-type headaches. They also found that 6030 out of 9944 people suffered from back pains, of whom 1267 (21.0%) reported frequent low back pain. The odds of having frequent low back pain were between 2.5 times higher in all episodic headache subtypes (migraine and tension) when compared to those without any headaches. The odds of having frequent low back pain were 15 times higher in all chronic headache subtypes when compared to those without headaches. One possible explanation for this association is that having pain in any part of your body makes you more likely to develop other types of pain. We know that persistent pain makes the nervous system more excitable and this in turn may predispose to other pain syndromes. We also know that people with fibromyalgia are more likely to suffer from headaches, and those with migraines are more likely to develop painful irritable bowel syndrome.

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