Back pain is a common problem that can have many different causes. It can be easy to put this pain down to external causes: a bad night’s sleep, an uncomfortable chair, heavy lifting, spending a whole day on your feet, and more. However, medical science is recognising the link between mental and physical health. Back pain can factor into this. In this blog, we will look specifically at whether your back pain could be a result of stress, why this occurs, and how to deal with it.
Can Stress Cause Back Pain?
The short answer is yes, stress can lead to back pain. It all depends on your natural response to stress. While some people manifest stress in their minds, running through different problems and potential solutions, others manifest it physically. This physical reaction may be unnoticeable to the individual and the people around them, but it is significant enough to eventually cause pain.
When stress manifests physically, it causes us to tighten our muscles, particularly the muscles around our shoulders and down our spine. It is the tension of these lower back muscles that causes us to experience pain, and is known as Tension Myositis Syndrome.
The biggest issue with Tension Myositis Syndrome`is that it can easily start off a cyclical pattern of pain. Those who are stressed will feel sore, which affects their mood and makes them less active. This not only impacts their social life, as the reduced movement also causes their muscles to weaken and tighten up further, leading to more pain. Additionally, the worry of the pain can cause people to become even more stressed, which then results in more pain.
How is this Treated?
As Tension Myositis Syndrome is both mental and physical in nature, it requires a multidisciplinary approach to treat it. The four factors in this are physical, emotional, cognitive, and environmental.
Physically, a specialist will work with you to loosen up the affected muscles, using a combination of stretches and other physical exercise routines, such as walking. Emotional and cognitive factors will both be treated with therapy, but with a clear distinction between the two. Emotional issues refer to how you feel, whether your are depressed, angry, anxious etc. Cognitive refers to your way of thinking, and whether you are too pessimistic, or focusing on what could go wrong, rather than how to fix your current situation. Finally, environmental factors are those external influences that affect your life. This could include your living situation, or your career, for example. These factors would need to be identified and then steps taken to bring about permanent change.
Sometimes it can be hard to believe that we are experiencing physical pain as a result of something psychological like stress, but it is a documented scientific fact. You may be tempted to ignore it and try to get on with your day, but doing so will only cause the problem to worsen. Like all medical issues, stress-related back pain is most effectively addressed by getting to the root cause of the problem, so if you have been experiencing consistent pain, don’t ignore it. Visit your physiotherapist and you can start work on getting rid of that pain immediately.