New research published in Current Biology, a medical journal, shows that challenging yourself mentally may be a much more effective way to fight against back pain than many of the most potent and powerful over-the-counter pain pills when they aren’t able to handle the “heavy lifting” all on their own.
The research study conducted by the experts behind Current Biology had 200 men dealing with chronic back pain try to use over-the-counter drugs to manage and mitigate that pain, and when they weren’t able to notice any real results the researchers then asked the same that to complete challenging memory tasks or word puzzles.
Believe it or not, the men that moved through the word puzzle program and the memory task challenges reported significantly glass back pain after challenging themselves mentally – in this is the first test to prove that “mind over matter” is the real deal when it comes to telling your body how to feel.
Brain scans backup the “mind over matter” approach
We have all heard anecdotal stories about people that have “thought themselves sick” and those that have cured themselves of seemingly incurable diseases just by believing it was possible.
On top of that, it is an accepted medical fact that placebo drugs can be just as impactful as prescription grade painkillers when the patient isn’t aware of the placebo but has instead been convinced that the pills they are taking are even more potent than painkillers themselves.
But the new research that we mentioned above went even further to link the mind and body connection by hooking those same 200 men dealing with chronic back pain to MRI scans as they had them move through the experiments.
The researchers were able to monitor brain activity as well as the release of endorphins (effective painkilling hormones naturally produced by the body that also triggered joy and happiness), and they notice that all of this activity was up across the board compared to when people were utilizing over-the-counter pain pills like Advil all on their own. Of course, when mind over matter fails and the pain gets really bad, you will need to take prescription painkillers. Many of these are derived from codeine and they mimic the natural endorphins and so change the body’s response to pain by tricking the brain.
Though there is still certainly something to be said about the positive benefits that over-the-counter pain pills can offer (and the very real and tangible results prescription grade painkillers are capable of), it’s interesting to seas at one of the best ways to alleviate significant back pain may simply be challenging your mind and putting the chronic pain out of your thoughts at least temporarily.