Can stress cause back pain?
You’re not crazy to think that your back hurts more every time you experience more stress. One cause of back pain or even neck pain and headaches is repetitive episodes of stress. Because there are many causes of back pain, you’ll want to consult your doctor before you self-diagnose yourself with stress-induced back pain. But knowing that this is an option might help you get your doctor the information he or she needs to diagnose you.
Why does stress cause you not only mental anguish but physical pain as well? When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones and adrenaline (caused by the fight or flight response), which increases your blood pressure and causes your muscles to tense up in case you need to run away.
Stress with neck pain
Tension from the neck during episodes of stress can cause headaches and muscle pain. Stress is often accompanied by poor posture at a desk job, which also contributes to neck pain.
Stress with back pain
When you experience stress, your breathing changes, which can cause tension in your mid-back. Your shoulders also hunch, causing pain in your upper back and mid-back. Most people also move around less during periods of stress, so this can contribute to lower back pain because your lower body muscles aren’t being stretched or exercised as much as usual (because you either have more work to do or you are too stressed to do anything at all).
How to relieve back pain caused by stress
Roll out on the Chirp Wheel. The Chirp Wheel can help reduce tension around your spine and neck. This will help you stretch and exercise so that your pain can start to melt away. It doesn’t take much effort or time to get the wheel to work. Just a few minutes a day could help reduce your back and neck pain dramatically.
Take time to relax. Whether relaxing means going to see a therapist to help you talk through your stress or going to a spa, it is important that you take time to solve the root cause of your stress and learn how to deal with it in your life if you cannot get rid of it altogether. If your back pain is caused by stress, it is important to get help because the more stress you experience, the worse your pain could get.
Exercise and stretch. Sometimes you might be afraid that you will damage your back further if you exercise with back pain. Of course, you should consult your doctor before doing anything drastic, but often doctors recommend both stretching and exercising to help reduce back pain caused by stress. Even going for a daily walk can help reduce back pain and stress. It is recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day and children get at least 60.
Eat healthy. The simple act of including nutritious vitamins and minerals in your diet through fresh greens, vegetables, and fruits could help you get the nutrients you’ve been lacking. Stress often also causes weight gain and fatigue. Eating healthy can help reduce the risk of gaining weight and losing energy during episodes of stress. Also remember to drink plenty of water during periods of stress rather than caffeine or soda.
Be mindful. Being mindful that stress might be causing your back pain might help reduce back pain by increasing blood flow to your brain, specifically your frontal lobe. While Harvard Health suggests that this “mind of matter” method could help, they also say it is important to do other things as well. Being mindful that your pain might be caused by stress will help you make better decisions for yourself. If family or friends ask you to burden yourself with activities or commitments, it is okay to say no and take time for yourself to heal. Being mindful will also help you begin to recognize things in your life that you didn’t know were causing you stress, such as social media, the news, or family trips. Eliminating extra stressors when you can might help you start to feel better.
Try yoga. Yoga is a mind and body exercise that can help you exercise while you relieve stress. If your back pain is caused by stress, this could be exactly what you need to help reduce your stress and back pain. Try these simple yoga poses and stretches to help reduce your back pain.
Go for a swim. Swimming is easy on your back and joints. Doing resistance training exercises like these in the pool might help you reduce your back pain. It is also beneficial for stress, especially if you find a hot tub to relax in after your exercise.
Deardorff, W. (2016, May 5). How does stress cause back pain? Retrieved from https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/depression/how-does-stress-cause-back-pain
Deardorff, W. (2017, June 13). How to treat lower back pain caused by stress. Retrieved from https://www.spine-health.com/blog/how-treat-lower-back-pain-caused-stress
Eidelson, S. G. (2020). Tame stress to reduce neck and back pain. Retrieved from https://www.spineuniverse.com/treatments/mental-therapy/tame-stress-reduce-neck-back-painPillay, S. (2020, June 23). The psychology of low back pain. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/psychology-low-back-pain-201604259537
Trivedi, K. (2019, March 20). Easy tips to relieve stress-related neck and back pain. Retrieved from https://utswmed.org/medblog/stress-back-pain/#:~:text=%22Stress%20affects%20the%20body%20in,these%20regions%20of%20the%20body.%22