Have you ever had a stressful day at work? The answer is, of course, a resounding yes. So, let’s take it a little farther. Have you ever had a stressful month at work? At the same time, were you possibly dealing with emotional burdens in your personal and interpersonal lives? Perhaps finances were tight, familial issues were prominent, or your health just wasn’t quite up to par.
At times like these, you may have noticed that you didn’t feel your best physically. Perhaps you dismissed the bodily aches and pains or didn’t even realize that there was a connection between your emotional distress and physical discomfort. In hindsight, it’s much easier to acknowledge that those headaches, weight fluctuations, back pains, or other ailments correlated with your stress levels.
The Relationship Between Stress and Back Pain
The unfortunate reality is that most American adults will experience back pain at one point or another. Some projections actually claim that around 80% of adults will, at some point, have a bout with back pain. That’s a significant percentage that conservatively places you or someone you care about at risk for back pain.
It’s easy to overlook the possibility that your emotional state contributes to such pain, especially if back pain is something you’ve come to accept. Even if back pain is not a common occurrence for you, emotional distress is easy to overlook when your pain is physical. It’s true that many of these occurrences of back pain will be strictly physical and caused by overactivity, trauma, or other physical factors, too.
However, the back pain you’re experiencing may be a result of stress and other negative emotions. Even if it is not a direct result of your stress, it can certainly be exacerbated by it. Thankfully, this area of medical science is expanding rapidly, and stress is now being identified as a contributing factor in many situations.
How Stress Causes Back Pain
At this point, there is no one certain way in which stress has been proven to directly cause back pain. There are, however, several theories that connect anxiety and emotional distress to physical back pain.
One of the most common theories revolves around the hypothesis that stress causes muscular tension in the muscles spanning the back, causing pain in those areas. Stress can also contribute to habits that cause back pain, including your posture changing to a more slouched position, your activity levels dropping, and hypersensitivity to physical sensations such as pain.
What You Can Do
First and foremost, you should visit a trusted back pain expert to receive a diagnosis. The last thing you want to do is take back pain lightly and potentially make it worse or cause it to linger longer than necessary. When speaking to your doctor, be sure to share any excess stress with them so they can make an accurate evaluation of your pain and from where it may be stemming.
Once you receive the go-ahead from your doctor, consider implementing a stretching regimen into your daily routine. Combing stretching with physical activity is one of the best ways to not only relieve your back pain but also prevent it in the future.
Being aware of your posture and constantly making corrections throughout the day is another valuable habit to form. While you shouldn’t be obsessive, reminding yourself to correct any slouching or other poor posture habits will go a long way toward helping reduce your back pain.
Most of all, listen to your doctor. They will be able to provide personalized solutions to your situation. From a specific stretching routine to stress reduction techniques, your doctor will do everything they can to provide you with the best plan for your unique situation.