Last year, a systematic review published by researchers at the University of Warwick found that there is an association between chronic low back pain and primary headache disorders, namely migraines and tension-type headaches.

Migraines and chronic lower back pain are two of the most disabling conditions worldwide. Migraines affect more than 1 billion people globally, and low back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability. Both of these conditions are a significant socioeconomic burden, costing individuals and nations billions of dollars every year in healthcare expenditures and missed workdays.

The systematic review, published by the Journal of Headache and Pain, included 14 research studies with a combined total of 460,435 participants. The results of the analysis showed a positive association between primary headache disorders and lower back pain. This association indicates that frequent back pain or chronic headaches are at least twice as likely to occur in the presence of the other.

Healthcare providers have always treated low back pain and primary headaches as two separate conditions. There are many drugs and natural remedies that can be beneficial to migraines and tension-type headache sufferers. Chronic lower back pain and other pain syndromes can be managed through exercise, physical and occupational therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) as well as with prescription and OTC medications and certain dietary supplements. However, there aren’t many interventions that target both ailments at the same time.

“People with persistent low back pain and people with chronic headache disorders are typically managed by clinicians from specific clinical specialties rather than experts in the management of chronic pain syndromes,” the authors note. Treating both conditions together could significantly lower costs, reduce medication overuse, and improve patient’s quality of life.

Mild or episodic back pain and headaches can be treated with OTC medications, certain dietary supplements and home remedies such as ice-packs, mindfulness meditation, and acupressure.

Several plant extracts like Ginger and Boswellia can help with back and joint pain as well as headache and migraine.  Maintaining a good posture, reducing stress, and exercising frequently can also help prevent episodic headaches with back pain.

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