Thursday, March 16, 2023

Can Stress Cause Back Pain

How Does Stress Lead To More Pain

Can Stress Cause Back Pain?

The intertwined relationship between stress and pain is a classic example of how profoundly the mind affects the body.

Mental distress leads to physical changes. People under stress tend to clench their jaws, tighten the back muscles, or hold tension in the shoulders. Over time, this unabated constriction can lead to pain. Stress may also lead to acute episodes of pain, such as headaches, that unmanaged stress could turn into routine occurrences.

Chronic stress not only causes tension, it destroys the bodys ability to regulate its inflammatory response, typically used to fight infections and viruses, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. Left unchecked, runaway inflammation can result in painful disorders ranging from arthritis to fibromyalgia.

Meanwhile, physical discomfort leads to mental anguish. A previously vibrant, healthy person who develops pain experiences a significant setback in quality of life. Left unable to exercise or enjoy the present moment, pain diminishes a persons joy. The uncontrollable situation leads to even more stress. Constant suffering stresses the body, cementing the troublesome, unhealthy relationship between stress and pain.

A Global Pandemic A Critical Election The Brink Of War And Much More Have Combined To Cause Untold Amounts Of Stress Which Could Be Contributing To Your Back Pain Find Out How

Your doomscrolling could be making your back pain worse.

Many would agree that 2020 has done a number on the worlds physical and mental health, but is it fair to say that the challenging environment could result in stress and back pain? If youre experiencing some back pain stress right now, you know that the answer is yes.

Biologic processes and environmental factors combine to cause a physical reaction to stress, says Benjamin Bonte, M.D., board certified physical medicine & rehabilitation physician at Hudson Medical + Wellness in New York City. This can result in a disruption in our status quo, affecting our ability to follow our diet, get enough sleep or exercise, or to engage with our social support networks each of these disruptions can worsen pain, including back pain.

Here are some ways the compounding worries of a particularly difficult year could cause those stress and back pains youve been feeling since early 2020.

How Severe Can Stress

Most individuals make the assumption that back pain caused by stress may not be that bad. The truth is that stress can cause back pain that is extremely debilitating. The type of stress that can cause back pain is often long-term stress that has not been dealt with. Not dealing with the stress may result in chronic back problems, like lumbago. Chronic back issues are extremely difficult to deal with and can impair the way one goes about living.

It is important to know when to get treatment for any ailments one experiences. Not seeking medical assistance for chronic back pain can result in a disc in your spine, becoming extremely damaged. A damaged disc requires surgery to fix, and should you not get surgery, the damaged disc can result in extreme pain and discomfort. This can result in lower back pain that does not seem to go away along with physical impairment. This can prevent one from living day to day normally.

Read Also: How Do You Treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

How To Stop Anxiety From Causing Further Back Pain

Under the assumption that your back pain is caused by anxiety, treating that back pain does require a focus on the pain itself. Unfortunately, while treating anxiety can reduce your back pain in the long term , breaking the cycle of back pain depends in large part on your ability to also fight the back pain itself. Consider the following tips:

These are all traditional ways to deal with back pain unrelated to anxiety, but they’re still effective because once back pain starts, it needs to be stopped using traditional methods.

But of course, controlling your back pain is only step one. You will still need to learn ways to cope with anxiety so that you can stop your anxiety back pain from occurring again.


Anxiety causes muscle tension, inactivity, changes in posture, and other changes that can all lead to back pain. The pain is real, so over the counter painkillers, stretching, and similar treatments might be needed to eliminate the pain. In the long term, it becomes important to stop the anxiety.

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Should Exercising Be Avoided

Can Stress Cause Back Pain?

Logically, since your lower back pain is caused mentally, it makes sense not to exercise, right? Putting any excess strain on your body is not a good idea at the moment. Well, no. That is actually the opposite of what you should be doing.

In reality, you should be exercising every day to ensure that you are properly recovering from your stress-ridden life and to bring your spine back to its natural state. Without working out, you will not be able to get away from your problems. Getting stuck in a loop is not exactly the most optimal solution.

Keep in mind, this does not mean that you should be careless while exercising. Putting too much strain on your body is not a good idea, especially when your back is quite fragile during this time.

A short ten or fifteen-minute exercise a couple of times a week is good enough. A long walk in the morning or before going to bed would also be very beneficial.

If you are not sure whether you can or should exercise in your medical state, you can always ask your doctor for a professional opinion.

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Contributes To Unhealthy Habits

Being constantly worried and stressed sometimes results in habits or lifestyle choices that affect soft tissues and nerves in and around the spine and weaken back-supporting muscle groups. For example, anxiety sometimes leads to smoking as an outlet for managing stress, and the chemicals in cigarettes have been linked to reduced blood flow, which can affect how nutrients get to the spine and accelerate the wear and tear associated with degenerative disc disease. Other unhealthy habits associated with anxiety that may also contribute to back pain include:

  • Poor posture
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Is Anxiety Or Stress Causing Your Back Pain

guiding successful women regain their lives from chronic pain & stress.

“I do expressive writing to get rid of my back pain,” stated Anna simply sipping on her fresh cup of tea.

“I smoke to get rid of my asthma,” I follow cracking a smile.

Anna looked at me like something was completely wrong with me. I stopped smiling and slipped into confusion. “Aren’t we playing ‘absurd things to say’?”

Apparently we weren’t. She was dead serious and took it upon herself to enlighten me.

Back pain was a constant with Anna since I met her eight years ago standing in line at a coffee shop yelling at a dorky looking kid who cut to the front of the line to return the extra cash that the hurried barista gave him as change. I told furious Anna to let Urkel go and in exchange her coffee was on me. She looked at me perplexed, took a deep breath and then started laughing. I thought she’d tell me to fuck off. Needless to say, we became fast friends.

So what does writing have to do with releasing back pain?

Dr. David Hanscom — orthopedic surgeon whose “Back in control: A spine surgeon’s roadmap out of chronic pain” book Anna read, explained that anxiety or mental pain and chronic physical pain are processed in the same part of the brain, so in a way they are essentially the same thing. One gets fired up and it triggers the other. It becomes like a vicious circle.

So, back pain can be a side effect of anxiety or chronic stress! Alleluia, somebody finally put two and two together.

What else?

Also Check: What Are Good Ways To Relieve Stress

Treat It With Hot And Cold

.According to research, heat and cold play an essential part in reducing back pain. Applying an ice pack to the back area that hurts will reduce inflammation and ease the pain. The ice pack may also reduce excruciating back pain by creating a numbing effect.

There are heating bottles and pads available to relieve severe back pain by relaxing stiff and painful muscles. Ensure that you follow the instructions on the manual and test the temperature before applying it to the affected area, but avoid getting burnt.

Most Common Causes Of Lower Back Pain

Stress Causes Chronic Back Pain

As I said previously, there are dozens of different causes why you might be having issues with your back. I assume that you can figure out what might be the most common causes. Bad posture, being stuck too long on a chair, heavy lifting, not enough exercising, and other similar causes, right?

Believe it or not, but all of these things I mentioned above do not take the spot for number one cause for lower back pain. Believe it or not, but the single most common cause is actually stress. Yes, that is true.

Through extensive data collection and surveys, experts claim that more than 30% of patients that experience problems with their back are usually because of stress.

This makes my previous answer definite. Yes, stress can be the cause of a physical health problem.

Also Check: What Are The Signs Of Stress And Anxiety

Counseling As A Treatment

Finding the root cause of your stress and aiming to eliminate it could be the first step in the right direction. Loss of a loved one, dealing with financial struggles, or not achieving your professional goals could be the reason for your stress.

To deal with raging lower back pain, find yourself a trained professional mental health counselor who will talk you through and help you deal with your emotions during tough times. This will help you cope up with stress and minimize your back pain symptoms.

It is now a widely accepted idea to seek help through counseling and therapy. These professionals develop the right strategies to deal with people and situations properly without harming yourself physically or mentally.

Find Time For Happiness

Its also really important to give yourself some free time to do what you enjoy. If youre constantly bombarded with work, family, or social commitments then youll get stressed and repeat the cycle of pain. Always make some time for yourself, maybe do a hobby you enjoy, read a book, watch your favorite show, maybe even learn some mindful meditation.

If youre still having trouble managing stress or youre still in pain, it might be a good idea to give us a call so we can see able to help you from the instead out. Contact Us Today!

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Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Body Aches

Absolutely. Our bodies respond to our thoughts, whether were remembering past experiences or responding to the present moment. We tighten muscles in a primal response to stress, or to protect certain areas of the body from trauma. While this is a natural healthy response, it becomes problematic when those muscles dont let go and instead create chronic tension and pain.

Persistent Pain Or Weakness

Can stress cause upper back pain?

If you’ve suffered with back pain for a period of time, or have flare-ups and episodes of back pain, or if you develop tingling in or weakness in your legs or elsewhere, it’s time to seek medical advice. Your GP will be able to take a history, and ask you about accompanying symptoms such as sensations in the legs or problems with certain movements.

In some cases, it may be necessary to have an X-ray or MRI scan to establish the cause of pain and rule out rare conditions such as spinal cancer. Your doctor will then be able to refer you for appropriate treatment.

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Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Back Pain

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Dealing With Back Pain

Although there are a lot of treatments that you can cycle through to deal with back pain or lower back pain, the most important one is that you learn to manage your stress properly. Back pain can be extremely frustrating to deal with. Other than being frustrating, back pain is also bad for your overall health and may result in other issues such as pain in one’s neck. Neck-related pain is often directly linked to back pain. The pain experienced in one’s neck often stems from either poor posture or pain in the back that has not been dealt with.

To deal with back pain, one may choose to get a massage to relieve the tension in the muscles. There are a variety of ways to deal with pain in the back and not all are favored by everyone. It is advised that you cycle through the various option until you find one that works best for your pain. What may work for the pain you experience in your back may not work for someone else.

Learning how to effectively handle the back pain you experience is important. Not knowing how to deal with the pain can result in a host of issues. Back pain can sometimes feel crippling, and should this be the case, you should seek assistance for it as soon as possible. The pain you experience today does not have to be the pain you experience tomorrow. So, get some help from a personal injury chiropractic office with your back pain before it becomes a serious issue.

Recommended Reading: How To De Stress Yourself Instantly

Adaptation To Psychosocial Stress

In addition to physical stress, biological stress responses can also be induced by psychosocial stressors . This response is driven by the autonomic nervous system , the anterior pituitary glands, and the hypothalamus , whereby the stress response within the ANS proceeds to one of three peripheral catecholamine systems with a release of neurotransmitters . Within the anterior pituitary glands and the hypothalamus, the stress response is driven by synaptic information from different brain regions like the limbic system or the brainstem . The effects of the stress response are reflected across five endocrine axes: the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal , hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid , hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal , hypothalamic-pituitary-somatotropic , and hypothalamic-pituitary-prolactin . The major role of these complex response systems is the maintenance of homeostasis and promoting adaption to external and internal challenges . A repeated activation of these regulatory systems can lead to pathological changes and an accumulated biological burden on the body. This so-called allostatic load can affect the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary axes , and the immune, cardiovascular, and metabolic systems . During the development of an increased allostatic load, other components from the neuroendocrine and immune system play a role, which in turn are associated with stress-related pain disorders .

How Can I Prevent Back Pain In The Future

Does Stress Affect Back Pain or Neck Pain?

While Dr. Williams and the caring team at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta are hyper-focused on helping patients become pain-free, preventing future pain is one of their top priorities. Follow these lifestyle and behavioral tips to help ensure you avoid back pain in the future:

  • Sleep with your spine in a neutral position
  • Practice good posture

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Your Sedentary Lifestyle Is Causing Back Pain

Simply needing to readjust your livelihood to stay home most of the year could be responsible for back pain. Many of us who were not working from home prior to the pandemic were essentially forced to quickly adapt, and didn’t have the luxury of time to set up an ergonomic home office, Dr. Bonte says. Sitting at a low table on a stool with a small laptop is going to cause more back pain than sitting at a designated workstation with a full sit-to-stand desk setup and a full-screen monitor.

Since youve eliminated a commute and walks to meetings, water coolers and restrooms on the other side of the office, youre probably sitting more in general during the workday. Studies suggest that more sitting time has been associated with more low back pain.

In addition, we are all creatures of routine, and when this routine is disrupted, this can make stress and pain worse. For those who exercise regularly, our minds, joints, muscles, and tendons are used to a particular training style or exercise program, Dr. Bonte says. Gym closures have forced us to learn how to do things differently, and I have seen people with new injuriesespecially running injuriesas a result of trying to adapt too quickly without a gym or their typical equipment or classes.

Why Chronic Back Pain Is Connected To Your Head

When your physical movement is limited, this can cause psychological distress, and the psychological distress can, in return, worsen the pain. Your personal health beliefs and coping strategies can influence both your level of distress and course of the pain. For instance, if you are anxiety-prone, expect the worst, and have catastrophic thinking, this can make the pain far worse. Thats because those psychological vulnerabilities can change your brain and intensify the pain.

Often, if you have these pre-existing psychological attitudes, you also have abnormalities in the regulation of your brains chemistry , and the usual brain functions in emotional control, anxiety, and attention are also disrupted. As a result, you cant control your distress your become anxious you expect the worst and you cant focus on anything else. The pain becomes all-consuming.

But its not just pre-existing attitudes that worsen back pain. The pain itself can rewire your brain. When pain first occurs, it impacts your pain-sensitivity brain circuits. But when pain lasts, the related brain activity switches away from the pain circuits to circuits that process emotions. Thats why emotions like anxiety often take center stage in chronic back pain. And its why emotional control becomes that much more difficult.

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