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How Stress Can Exacerbate Your Back Pain

Physical back pain can translate into physical stress just as stress can generate physical pain. Here's what you need to know.

The reason that you may be feeling stress differs from person to person. Because of that, there isn't a "one-size-fits-all" solution to stress-related back pain, however, there's still hope.

Raise your hand if you live with some form of chronic physical back pain? Raise your hand if it’s ever stressed you out? Well, this is not a coincidence. Physical back pain can absolutely turn into to physical stress just as stress can cause physical pain.

In particular, Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) demonstrates the cause and effect relationship between stress-induced back pain.

A philosophy expanded by Dr. John Sarno of the New York University School of Medicine, says that TMS, a.k.a. Mind-Body Syndrome, and more commonly, Stress Illness, normally means you’re not adequately dealing with stress. Instead, you may be driving feelings of stress from conscious to unconscious perceptions.

When you live with unconscious stress, you may encounter several physical changes. Blood vessels are restricted because there’s less blood flow in your body, not enough oxygen to support your muscles and other tissues become blocked as well.

Eventually, your muscles exhibit disproportionate biochemical waste, as a result, you generally will experience muscle tension, muscle spasms, and back pain.

How to Detect if Stress is the Cause of Your Back Pain

To learn if stress is the fundamental reason for your back pain, you want to start by contacting your general physician with the purpose of making an appointment for he or she to perform a complete physical exam. This aids to distinguish any spinal disorders or structural problems in an effort to rule out other causes of your back pain.

Subsequent to that, your specialist will talk with you about general symptoms of stress-related pain. These indications can match those of fibromyalgia. They combine elements of pain in your back and neck, tender patches of muscle, widespread muscle aches, in addition to generalized fatigue or sleep deprivation.

Your doctor will then discuss traditional remedies and treatments you can employ daily to flip the script on your chronic back pain. You may be asked to change your posture or increase your physical activity levels.

Poor posture can lead to excessive strain on your postural muscles and may even cause them to relax, which sounds OK, but it’s not. This is why some people hunch forward at the waist when sitting or driving for prolonged periods. This makes postural muscles more prone to injury and you more susceptible to back pain. Add stress to the mix and this is a recipe for disaster.

On the contrary, good posture helps you to perform a movement that places the least amount of strain on supporting muscles and ligaments.

In some circumstances, your physician may also inquire about what activities typically cause you back pain, where your pain travels throughout your body, as well as any pain or stress cycles that your body practices —consciously or unconsciously.

How to Relieve Your Stress Symptoms

If you do experience stress-related back pain, there are options. Multiple treatments can assist in relieving your symptoms while reducing your back pain. 

Dr. Sarno frequently recommends that his patients work a dual treatment approach of talk therapy and psychotherapy — the treatment of mental disorder by psychological rather than medical means. A skilled therapist can help you cope with feelings and symptoms, in order to change behavior patterns that may contribute to your illness. 

Instead of solely reducing pain, this manner encourages you to face things head-on in order to uncover the basis of your stress. In addition, this process can help you better comprehend how these underlying concerns may be contributing to your back pain. 

Many doctors advise patients to employ a variety of low-impact solutions to control stress in a physical sense. These usually include activities such as daily stretching, practicing proper posture, engaging in massage therapy, performing yoga or walking exercises. This really supports the mind, body, soul approach that helps to fix the whole person rather than just popping a pill to relieve your symptoms. 

The reason that you may be feeling stress differs from person to person. Because of that, there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution to stress-related back pain, however, there’s still hope. If you think you are experiencing this condition, ask for help from your doctor. In return, you may discover that your stress-related pain can, in fact, be managed. 

You may not be able to specifically control the stressors in your life but with guidance, you can certainly manage how you react to it. So simply do your best and forget the rest.

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