Stress can result in inflammation, muscular spasms, and back pain.
Back pain is one of the most common medical conditions, affecting millions of individuals globally.
However, did you know that, in addition to physical triggers (such as pulling a muscle or lipping a disc), stress can contribute to or exacerbate back pain? Back pain and stress have a delicate relationship that can go either way.
What Is The Relationship Between Back Pain And Stress?
According to information from sources, persistent stress may cause chronic pain and vice versa. Many people get back pain as a result of this.
According to a 2021 study Source, chronic stress eventually causes cortisol dysregulation and difficulties with body’s inflammatory response. Cortisol and inflammatory disorders can cause chronic pain, as well as oxidative stress, free radical damage, cellular damage or aging, and tissue degeneration.
Furthermore, research Source has shown that stress has a direct effect on how body processes pain.
Overall, stress can induce back discomfort in a variety of ways:
- Muscle tension: Back pain and stiffness can be caused by back muscle tension, which can occur when you are stressed.
- Increased sensitivity to pain: Stress can raise a person’s pain threshold. Significant life events, according to study, can modify the limbic system and associated neurotransmitters, which can alter the pain-inhibitory systems.
- Inflammation: Chronic stress can cause inflammation throughout the body, particularly in the back, which can be painful.
- Poor posture: Stress changes your breathing patterns and causes you to hunch your shoulders, straining and tightening your upper and middle back.
- Reduced blood flow: When you’re stressed, your blood vessels may constrict, reducing the amount of blood reaching your back muscles and causing pain.
An assessment A study of 8,473 adults discovered that those who suffered significant stress were 2.8 times more likely than the general population to have persistent low back pain.
additional investigation A study of 77 police officers revealed a robust link between stress and upper musculoskeletal discomfort. Meanwhile, this particular study found no link between stress and lower back pain.
What Is The Sensation Of Stress-Related Back Pain?
Stress-related back discomfort might manifest differently in each individual depending on where it is.
Lower back pain is typically accompanied by a dull or sudden soreness, stiffness, or muscular spasms, in addition to radiating to the legs or buttocks.
Upper back pain, on the other hand, may feel tight or pressing between the shoulder blades, or it may feel burning or stabbing. Upper back discomfort can sometimes be accompanied with arm or chest pain.
How To Recognize Stress As A Cause Of Back Pain
Because back pain can be caused by a variety of factors, determining whether back pain is specifically caused by stress can be difficult. However, the following signs may indicate that your back pain is being caused by stress:
- Physical and emotional stress: If you’ve been under a lot of physical or mental strain, such as from a demanding job or a difficult relationship, your back discomfort could be caused by stress.
- Gradual onset: If your back pain came on gradually rather than all at once, it could be due to stiff muscles caused by stress.
- Lack of other symptoms: If your pain is modest and you have no other symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or weakness, stress could be the culprit.
- Pain that comes and goes: A varying level of pain Back pain caused by stress may come and go depending on your level of stress, whereas pain caused by an accident or illness is more likely to be consistent.
- Improvement with stress management techniques: If stress-relieving activities such as exercise or deep breathing reduce your pain, your discomfort may be stress-related.
How Long Does Back Pain Caused By Stress Last?
Several factors may influence how long stress-related back pain lasts. In some cases, it may vanish on its own within a few days or weeks. However, if the underlying stress is not addressed, the pain may linger or worsen over time.
According to certain studies, stress may be able to predict the likelihood of future back pain. In a research of 588 people, the following types of stress were discovered to be risk factors for back pain severity and disability during a 2-year period:
- Long-term stress
- social isolation
- social disputes
- worry inclination
How May Back Pain Caused By Stress Be Alleviated?
There are several things you may take to alleviate back pain caused by stress, including:
- Painkillers: Over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) can help soothe discomfort and lessen inflammation.
- Heat therapy: Applying heat to the wounded area can relax the muscles and reduce discomfort. Take a warm bath, use a heating pad, or a hot water bottle.
- Massage: Applying pressure to the affected area may help relieve pain and tension. You can visit a licensed massage therapist or try self-massage techniques.
- Stretch: Lower back stretches like the cat-cow and knee-to-chest stretches will help release tension in your back muscles.
Advice On Reducing Stress
Here are some suggestions for reducing stress:
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise helps maintain healthy joints and muscles and enhances mental well-being.
- Eat a nutritious diet: A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce inflammation and improve your overall well-being.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Methods like progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and meditation can help you relax and cope with stress.
- Connect with others: Stress reduction requires social support. Visit your loved ones, participate in a support group.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness entails being in the present moment and objectively monitoring your thoughts and feelings.
- Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for lowering stress and letting the muscles unwind.
Back pain and stress are two related disorders that can have a major negative impact on your quality of life. Back discomfort can be relieved with regular exercise, stretching, and good posture, and stress reduction methods like meditation and deep breathing can help.
A healthcare expert, such as a physical therapist or a counselor, can offer helpful direction and assistance in managing these concerns if you are dealing with stress-related back pain.