Chronic back pain can shrink the gray matter in your brain by as much as 11 percent in one year, the same amount of brain density that’s lost in 10 to 20 years of normal aging, says a Northwestern University study.

The research, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, found that every year of chronic pain results in a loss of 1.3 cubic centimeters of gray matter, the part of your brain that processes memory and information.
Researchers used structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other analytic methods to compare brain images of 26 people with chronic back pain and 26 healthy people. All of the people with back pain had suffered unrelenting pain for more than a year.

At least 25 percent of Americans experience back pain, and a quarter of those people suffer chronic and unrelenting back pain.
– Northwestern University, news release

Dr. Keith and Laurie Nemec comments on Back Pain Causes Brain Loss:

The study shows the negative affects that chronic pain can have; it can decrease your brain size and function as much as 11% which is usually seen in 20 years of normal aging. What is pain? It is the body talking. It is a beautiful mechanism created by God to warn you something is not working properly.
Pain is wonderful if you learn to listen to its language, but if you do not communicate with your body and pop pain pills just to cover it up, you are treading into dangerous territory. If the body talks with symptoms and you do not listen, the body will talk louder with conditions like Metabolic Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Leaky Gut Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia. If you still do not listen by covering up the pain or symptoms with pills, the next step in the body communicating to you is DISEASE. This is the cancer, heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, autoimmune disease, neurological disease, etc…
Learn to listen to your body and make the changes it is asking for. Remember, 90% of all neck and back pain is visceral in origin. That means it is a referral pain from organs and glands being out of balance and overworked.
When you live the 7 Basic Steps to Total Health everyday, you will see your pain decrease and even your mind and emotions improve.