Can Chronic Back Pain Shrink The Brain ?


Can Chronic Back Pain Shrink the Brain ?

By: Paul Kramer DC

If you’re one of the millions of people with chronic back pain, scientists say your brain may age up to 20 times faster than normal.

In the first study of its kind, researchers from Northwestern University have found that chronic back pain actually shrinks the brain by as much as 11%. Specifically, it shrinks the gray matter, which makes up the part of the brain responsible for memory and information processing.

It is well documented that chronic back pain negatively impacts quality of life and increases anxiety and depression, but it has been assumed that any brain changes revert to a normal state after the pain stops. This is according to researcher A. Vania Apkarian who has an article in the Nov. 23, 2004 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Apkarian and colleagues compared 26 healthy volunteers with 26 patients who had chronic back pain in the lower region for more than a year. Some patients’ pain radiated through the buttock, thigh, and leg — a sign of sciatic nerve damage, or sciatica. The source of the pain was not considered.

MRI brain images and other sophisticated imaging tests, which measured gray matter size, were performed on all patients. After adjusting for age and gender factors, scientists found that, overall, chronic back pain patients lost about 5%-11% of gray matter a year — about the same as 10 to 20 years or normal aging, the researchers say. Typically, normal aging results in only about 0.5% of gray matter loss each year, they add.

Those with chronic back pain with sciatica had the largest decrease in gray matter. In addition, the more years someone has chronic back pain, the more brain loss they suffered.

What’s Behind the Brain Shrinkage?

By definition, chronic back pain is a state of persistent pain with associated negative mood and stress, says Apkarian. Therefore, one possible explanation for the decreased gray matter is that nerve cells are working overtime.

The researchers hypothesize that as chronic back pain persists, it may become more irreversible and less responsive to treatment due to these brain changes.

The good news is that chiropractic has been found to be a very effective and long lasting treatment for chronic low back pain.  The elimination of chronic pain now, may prevent future problems of anxiety, depression and dementia.

It is in your best interest to look at all the options available to you if you suffer from chronic pain.  For a free no obligation chronic back pain consultation, call my office at 262-293-3790, your body will thank you.  (and so will your brain 🙂

Barefoot Running Tips

By Paul Kramer DC

Barefoot running has become increasingly popular in the last few years, due in large part to the book “Born to Run”.

The author, Christopher McDougall, details his quest to find a way to run without pain. You see, he was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, a very painful type of tendonitis of the foot.  After he was diagnosed, he saw some of the top foot doctors in the country.  All of them prescribed arch supports for his feet, and recommended he stop running.  These recommendations only made his foot problem worse.

He then started studying the world’s top distance runners and found that many of them run barefoot.  Going against what the top doctors in America told him, he started to give barefoot running a try.  To make a long story short, he now runs 50 mile races without plantar fascitis.

As someone who has made the transition to barefoot running myself, I can tell you that it isn’t an easy thing to do.  It can be painful until you get used to it.  Here are some tips that will make it easier for you:

-I recommend wearing Vibram Five Finger shoes, because they will protect your feet and at the same time allow them to move naturally as you run.

-Start by running on grass, pavement is too tough on your feet early on.

-It will take 2 to 3 months for your feet to toughen up enough to run on pavement.  The bones of the feet de-mineralize and weaken as the result of wearing shoes with arch supports.  It will take a few months for the bones to harden up again.

-Concentrate on standing tall when you run, especially as you get tired.  Good posture is essential when you run barefoot.  If you lean forward too much, your feet will hurt almost immediately.

-During your stride, do not put your foot down until it stops moving forward.  You will avoid pounding your joints and it makes you run faster.

-Push off with your toes in the back of your stride.  You will run faster and feel better.  This sets up a kinetic chain that will actually help straighten your back and fix alignment problems in your body.  This is why so many people feel better after switching to barefoot running.

If you are suffering from plantar fascitis and are looking for a doctor who not only will help the pain, but help you achieve long term health for your feet, call us at 262-293-3790.   You can set up a free no obligation consultation where we can discuss your situation and what it will take to get you back to 100%.

How to Save 50% on Your Health Insurance Premiums

I am always shocked at what my patients are paying for health insurance premiums.  Then when they need chiropractic care, the insurance doesn’t pay much due to high deductibles and co-pays.  So on top of paying big time premiums, you don’t get much when you need it.
I want to share with you how my family is handling their healthcare costs.  We decided to join a health cost sharing organization and it has been a miracle for us.  We pay less than half what we normally would pay for just a minimal health insurance policy, and when we need it, it pays much better.
Last year Jennifer had some kidney stones and she needed surgery to the tune of $48,000 and we only paid $1500.
The health share organization is called Liberty Healthshare and its awesome.  I can’t recommend it enough.  Go to: and check it out.  They have a free decision guide and all kinds of information.  Great stuff.
What’s the catch ?  Well you can’t smoke and you must agree to only drink alcohol in moderation.  Some people with severe pre-existing conditions aren’t accepted.  When you use it, the health provider will be billing you and then you will be forwarding the bills to Liberty Healthshare.  So you might be handling a little more paperwork than you are used to, but it really is no big deal.  And that’s basically it.
Its great stuff, so check it out, if you want me to help you with any questions, let me know.  The Liberty people are great to talk to as well.

Workshop Calendar for 2017


2017 Body Signals Workshop Calendar   

Tuesday’s @ 6:30 PM

MO:                 TOPIC/BODY SIGNAL:       TITLE:


AUG  22              NECK PAIN                          STOP NECK PAIN FOREVER

SEP 19                HEADACHES                        END HEADACHES NOW

OCT 17                SLEEP PROBLEMS             SLEEP BETTER TONIGHT


DEC 12                STRESS                                  STRESSED OUT? THE HOLIDAY RED ZONE


Benign Positional Vertigo- New Treatments That Work!

By: Paul Kramer DC


Germantown, WI- Benign Positional Vertigo is a condition that can come on suddenly and cause dizziness, nausea, headaches and balance disorders.  It is called “benign” because it isn’t caused by cancer, tumors, infections or the like.  But it is far from minor.  It can be absolutely debilitating.

The balance disorder problem can be caused by things not normally treated by the medical profession.  That being pinched or stretched nerves in the head and neck.  When these nerves get irritated it results in garbled communication to and from the brain regarding where your body is in space.

You may feel like you are falling over when you aren’t.  Or the room is spinning when it isn’t.  You may feel light headed when you move or change positions.  Some people can make their symptoms worse by tipping their head down or back.  This is all related to mechanical nerve pressure in the head and neck.

These symptoms can be treated with a combination of two radically new alternative therapy techniques.  Advanced Biostructural Correction to correct the problems in the spine.  Endonasal Cranial Correction to correct the problems in the head.  The two techniques have given relief to many BPV sufferers across the country.

Check out these videos of BPV sufferers I have treated.  If you are interested in treatment and would like a free consultation to find out if you are a candidate for care, call Jennifer or Pat at 262-293-3790.

Her name is Simonetta and she had vertigo.


Plantar Fasciitis and Arch Supports…Just Say No !

Arch Supports…“JUST SAY NO !”

Almost every doctor or foot expert in the country will tell you to pick shoes that have “good arch support”.  However, a study performed in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reviewed 35 years of research on footwear.  They concluded that there is no evidence whatsoever, that arch supports either treat or prevent injuries.  None.

They even contacted all the major shoe companies and asked for their research.  None replied.  What that means is, they either don’t have any research, or the research they have, shows their shoes don’t work.

The same goes for all the orthotics on the market.  Its all smoke and mirrors.  There is no evidence that these gadgets really help.  I have seen cases where arch supports have helped give short term relief of foot pain.  But, in the long run, the foot always gets weaker, stiffer and dependent on the supports.

From what I have observed over the last fifteen years in my office, arch supports actually make your whole body worse.  Arch supports tend to do the following:

  1. They make your body posture slump forward.
  2. Your breathing will be more restricted when wearing arch supports.
  3. Your gait will be more restricted.
  4. Your feet will tend to pound at the ground when you walk.
  5. Arch supports limit your ability to change directions, causing decreased sports performance.
  6. Your body will be more unstable when wearing arch supports.

You can test these things for yourself.  Do the following tests, first without shoes, then with arch supports or with high arch shoes on.

  1. Have someone stand in back of you and gently push on your shoulders. See if you are more stable with your shoes or without.
  2. Have someone look at your posture, how does it look ?
  3. Take a few deep breaths and see if you get restricted.
  4. Walk around a little. Do walk tall or do you slump over ?  Do you pound the floor ?
  5. Shuffle around a little and see how you change direction (move like playing tennis or shadowboxing) Is you ability to change direction better, the same or worse with the shoes on?

Some of these tests, you may not notice a difference.  But, for most, you will.  Sometimes it can be very dramatic.

What’s the best type of shoe ?  Time after time, when I have performed these tests with people, the best shoes turn out to be a flat, flexible shoe with a wide toe box.  A shoe with a small heel is good for most people, provided the back of the heel is the highest part of the shoe.

Vibram five finger shoes are the best by far, but they look weird and aren’t for everyone.  Lem’s shoes are great.  Just about any “minimalist” shoe is great as long as it doesn’t have a negative heel.   Flat tennis shoes like Van’s, Chuck Taylor’s or PF Flyers work out great. In my experience, New Balance are about 80-90% correct off the shelf and I recommend them to patients who run but don’t want minimalist shoes.  MUDD’s women’s shoes are perfect, I’ve never seen a bad shoe from them.  They have a nice size heel and women usually say they are the most comfortable shoe they own.

If you are hurting from plantar fasciitis, you may need to get treated before you make the switch to flat flexible shoes.  There are some great methods of treatment that your current physicians may not be aware of.  Look for an ABC certified practitioner near you at, or call our office at 262-293-3790, talk to Jennifer or Pat and set up a consultation with Dr. Paul Kramer.

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