It is not news that Americans suffer from back pain. In fact, upwards of 31 million Americans experience some form of back pain annually. This pain can be mild and intermittent, but it also can be chronic and lead to long-term physical and mental health issues. The back is a complicated, albeit essential, mixture of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles, all working together.
If one part of the structure is out of whack, other issues, including pain, can become prevalent. Common causes of back pain include poor posture, obesity, inconsistent exercise, and lingering past injuries. However, there is also an emerging relationship between stress and back pain.
The Common Places of Stress
Stress takes many forms, but it is common for people to carry stress and anxiety in their neck, shoulders, and back. Tension in these areas decreases blood flow which leads to a build-up of toxins. This toxic accumulation leads to pain which, in turn, adds to anxiety and increased tension. In addition to the build-up of toxins, anxiety and stress can heighten back pain in other ways.
Excercise Relieves Stress
Anxiety often affects the way people carry themselves. Changes in posture can lead to muscle degradation and alignment issues, both of which lead to or exacerbate back pain. Stress also affects a person’s level of physical activity. A decrease in physical exercise or activity makes the body more prone to stiffness, aches, and pains. Proper exercise can both ease back pain as well as stress levels.
Stress and Pain are Linked
As we can see, back pain and anxiety often co-exist and feed off each other. Back pain can increase stress levels which then leads to more pain. Given this relationship, it is important to treat both in tandem. Common approaches to relieving stress and pain include proper hydration, a balanced diet, and regular exercise.
Stretching the body is an important aspect of exercise, but make sure you start gently and keep a regular schedule. Vigorous stretching can often cause more harm than good.
Let the Mind and Body, Relax
The goal with any treatment is to improve behaviors that lead to stress and pain. Posture is critical and changing daily work routines (i.e., slouching at a desk) can pay long-term dividends. When pain is very great, it may be beneficial to take pain killers to allow your mind and body to rest.
Rest is important to managing stress so give your body the break it needs to heal. Massage therapy is an additional powerful way to help both the mind and body heal.
Manage Stress = Manage Back Pain
Exercise, medication, diet, relaxation, and massage: these are all traditional ways to relieve back pain, but they are also effective for helping manage stress. While a pain-free back may not quell all your anxiety, it is an important step in regaining the balance needed to lead a healthy and happy life.
Everyday life will bring stresses, but the important consideration is to manage that stress and anxiety in a way that does not lead to additional health issues such as back pain. Back pain can only lead to further stress and health issues. Tackle both the stress and the pain; in this way you will be on the path to recovery.
Dr. Hausman has a Bachelors in Science and Phsycology and is a Doctor of Chiropractice. Dr. Hausman is a chiropractor because he loves helping people get well without the use of medication or surgery. When he is not working, Dr. Hausman is an avid amatuer runner, and loves living a healthy lifestyle with yoga, skiing and swimming.