Back pain can be caused by many factors such as heavy lifting and poor posture. However, these are not the only reasons for back pain. Emotional or mental stress and back pain are directly related to each other. Stress can be damaging because of the tension it can cause in your body, and it can also be a predecessor to more serious health problems which can pose a risk to your life.
While stress can make any condition worse, it can also be a predominant factor in back pain. Stress-related back pain is thought to be mostly influenced by psychological factors. But this does not mean that the pain is all in someone’s head. Back pain caused by emotional issues either initiates the back pain or helps to maintain it. In some cases, it does both. The pain is real, and it affects the daily life of sufferers.
The cycle of pain
While stress is not necessarily the direct cause of back pain in many cases, it can exacerbate the pain cycle. It can also spark a debilitating fear that the pain will limit one’s daily activities. A decrease in activity can cause pain back and weak muscles. And so the cycle of stress and back pain begins. This cycle leads to more pain, anxiety, depression, and physical de-conditioning.
How does stress cause back pain?
Stress causes tension in the muscles in your back, neck, and shoulders. This tension results in squeezed blood vessels that constrict the flow of blood to your back. It also creates a fight or flight response that tenses your muscles and releases many chemicals into the bloodstream. The reduction in blood flow can cause more than back pain; it can result in weakened muscles that are prone to strains. The chemicals that are released with elevated levels of stress keep the inflammatory process going in the body which tends to make back pain worse over time.
Chronic stress can definitely lead to chronic pain if you fail to take steps to overcome it. Chronic stress can occur from events such as a family illness or the end of a relationship. You should deal with stressful events by recognizing them first and foremost. Join a support group and take positive steps to overcome the stress.
In addition to back pain, stress results in other responses that can affect the body’s ability to function seamlessly. When we are stressed, our heart rate and blood pressure raise significantly. Stress also causes a rise in blood sugar levels, and blood clotting occurs more quickly. These are all reactions that humans have been having since ancient times, and they occur in response to daily life happenings. Things like sitting in traffic while you’re late for work can cause these reactions. You should learn to recognize stress so that you can learn to alleviate it in order to lessen back pain.
How to relieve stress
Learning to relieve stress (or avoid it altogether!) may seem like a difficult task, but there are many ways to deal with it. First, identify who or what stresses you. Once you have recognized this, see if you can simply avoid these situations or people that cause you stress. But you cannot avoid anxiety and stress altogether. Some things will always be out of your control, like traffic and work. The key is to deal with the uncontrollable factors in the best way that you can.
There are a number of ways that you can deal with stress so that it relieves back pain. Consider chiropractic care, massage, or acupuncture to de-stress. Or, you may want to try physical therapy. Cut down on caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants in order to reduce your level of stress. If you have wanted to get in shape, now is the perfect time. Exercise is a wonderful de-stressor that can make a huge difference in your outlook and well-being. Running, biking, swimming, and hiking are great ways to get your heart pumping while having fun. Also, yoga teaches meditation and breathing techniques as well as stretching exercises that can greatly help in reducing your stress levels. Meditation alone is an excellent way to decrease stress in your life.
The more control you have over factors that could potentially cause you stress, the less likely you are to get stressed. The key is to prevent the stressful events from occurring and to learn to relax when you are faced with an inevitably stressful situation.