Any time you stay in one position for a long period of time, back pain can set in. If the pain continues for 12 weeks or more, it is considered chronic back pain.
Stress is a common cause of back pain. Sometimes it directly causes the pain, other times it exacerbates an existing ache or strain.
Stress is a normal part of life.
Stress is a normal response to life’s changes, pressures and challenges. It’s a mind-and-body signal that helps you get ready for what’s ahead and may even be necessary in some situations, like when your brain detects an imminent threat to your safety. Your muscles tighten and your heartbeat speeds up to help you react quickly or run away if needed. This is called the “fight or flight” response, and it’s designed to keep you safe and healthy in the short term.
Stress, however, becomes toxic when it lasts for long periods of time or is triggered repeatedly. In these cases, it can lead to symptoms such as sleep problems, restlessness and a lack of focus at work or school. It can also trigger mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, Ackrill says. The Specialists from Long Island Neuroscience note this in their article.
What causes your stress and how you respond to it can also determine its effects. Some people are able to manage several stressors without having a strong reaction, while others experience one very challenging situation that can cause a severe stress response. Some common sources of stress include a job or family that are causing a lot of worry, financial hardship, poor health or relationships and social issues like political divisiveness and racism.
Your perception of control can also play a role in how you handle stress. If you feel that you have a good sense of control over your life, it’s easier to take on difficult challenges and adapt to them. When you think that you have little control over your life, the negative impact of stressful events is more likely to have a detrimental effect on your overall health.
Managing your daily stresses, such as staying active and eating well, can go a long way to ease the effects of stress. If you are dealing with chronic stress, consider seeking out the services of a mental health professional for advice and support. Taking advantage of community resources and finding ways to reduce the burden of living expenses can also be helpful in relieving stress. For example, if you are struggling with housing costs, consider applying for social assistance or exploring market rent units that fit within your income range.
It can be a good thing.
Stress is a natural and necessary part of life. It can help us deal with difficult situations and can even improve our performance in certain activities. But, if it goes on too long or is too intense, we can suffer from physical symptoms like back pain. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce the level of stress and prevent back pain.
During times of stress, our bodies go on high alert. This causes a bodywide reaction that triggers muscles in our back and neck to tighten. These tense muscles are intended to protect our bodies from danger. Unfortunately, this often leads to pain.
Back pain due to stress can occur in the mid-back, lower back, or neck. This type of back pain is typically the result of poor posture and lack of flexibility. Over time, this can cause a loss of the normal curve of the spine. In the case of the neck, strain is usually caused by hunching or looking down at smartphones and laptops. This can lead to muscle pain and headaches.
It’s important to see a medical professional right away if you experience back pain, especially if it lasts more than 24 hours. Over-the-counter pain relievers (like ibuprofen and naproxen) are commonly recommended to ease the pain.
In addition to taking over-the-counter pain relievers, there are several things you can do at home to manage your back pain. Physical activity is one of the best ways to reduce stress and strengthen your back. If you tend to be sedentary, try to get up and move around a few times per day. Walks, yoga, water aerobics, swimming, and other low-impact exercises can help to loosen tense muscles and release endorphins—the brain’s natural painkillers.
If you have chronic back pain, work with a physical therapist. Whether you can visit them in person or use a telehealth service, they can help you develop an exercise program to keep your back strong and healthy. This may include core and back strength training and stretching to help with flexibility. They can also teach you stress management techniques to reduce the impact of bad days on your overall well-being.
It can be a bad thing.
Stress can be a bad thing when it becomes chronic, leading to health problems like heart disease and high blood pressure. It can also make you feel fatigued and distracted. Chronic stress may also contribute to depression and addictions such as overeating, smoking and alcohol abuse.
Stress causes muscle tension, which can lead to musculoskeletal pain in the back and neck. It can also cause gastrointestinal issues such as acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome. Common stress reduction techniques like meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness-based therapies can help to relieve these symptoms.
Too much stress can also affect your sleep, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. And it can cause you to skip important self-care habits such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. It can also contribute to unhealthy behaviors such as over-spending, relying on substances and poor time management. All of these factors can impact your overall well-being and increase the risk of injury, illness or even death. That’s why it is so important to manage your daily stress levels.
It can be a source of pain.
When stress is prolonged and not properly managed, it can change how the body works. It may trigger the fight or flight response, which results in a physical feeling of tension throughout the body. This includes the back muscles, which can become tight and cause pain. If this happens, it’s a condition known as central sensitization. It affects how the brain and nervous system react to pain and causes a cycle of pain and stress.
Some experts think that the majority of back pain cases are actually due to stress-related issues. When your doctor suspects that the source of your pain is a psychological or emotional cause, they will refer to it as a psycho-physiological diagnosis.
The first thing that your doctor will do is run a few tests to rule out any other serious back problems, such as an infection or tumor. Once they have done this, they can then start looking at the stress-related factors of your pain.
Work-related stressors like long hours, salary concerns, or family conflicts can lead to stress and tension in the back. Emotional stressors, such as being in a difficult relationship or depression, can also lead to back pain.
If you have back pain, it’s important to recognize that your body is trying to protect itself. This can include avoiding activities that you think will increase the pain, such as not exercising or sitting for too long. These avoiding behaviours can be helpful in responding to an injury, but over time they may make the pain worse and keep you stuck in a painful, stressful cycle.
The best way to break this cycle is to seek help from a healthcare professional who can create a treatment plan that considers both your physical and emotional needs. Stay away from unhealthy options for managing stress, such as drinking or smoking, which will only stress you out more in the long run. Instead, try things like getting enough sleep and practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing. It’s also a good idea to get regular exercise and stretch your back muscles, which will release some of the tension you feel.