Migraine sufferers often take a pain-killer to get rid of an agonising headache. According to a current study in Norway this behaviour can easily become a vicious circle as frequent administration of pain-killers seems to promote migraine attacks. Scientists at the Norwegian University of Trondheim investigated whether excessive use of pain-killers may be associated with the development of chronic pain. John-Anker Zwart and his team asked over 49 000 Norwegians how often they took a pain-killer, which one they took and what pain syndromes they had.

There was a distinct connection between excessive use of pain-killers and pain attacks particularly in migraine patients. Whoever took tablets daily, reported chronic migraine more than 10 times more frequently than persons who took them normally. Patients with chronic pain syndromes such as back pain, neck pain and non-migraine-like headache frequently abused pain-killers. In the process the risk of suffering from chronic pain increases the longer excessive administration of medicines lasts. Therefore, the authors recommend that physicians and patients deal more consciously with pain-killers. Particularly people who are affected by chronic migraine should be aware of the risks of medicinal-drug abuse.

It seems that psychological factors may play an important role for some back pain patients. In a study American scientists showed that test persons who did very badly in a psychological test were more likely to develop back pain.

Scientists at Stanford University in California, USA, followed the health of over 100 volunteers for 4 years. At the beginning of the study none of the participants suffered from back pain. The scientists examined the participants’ spine using two different diagnosis techniques, i.e. magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and discography. The participants also underwent a psychological test.

MRI can detect small tears in the discs which may possibly cause pain in the future. Discography, a diagnosis technique whereby fluid is injected into a vertebral disc, is also used to diagnose back pain. According to some doctors damage to discs is revealed by the fact that the procedure triggers pain in a patient.