Answers to today's medical questions through blogs and articles

Back Pain and Stress

Back Pain and StressEveryone in Israel has stress, and we all manage it differently. Some of us seem to handle it better than others. Often, though, we only look like we’re handling stress well, but what we’re really doing is pretending we don’t have it at all. Our work, our families, our stressful lives keep us on our toes, and nobody rises to the occasion better than Israelis. Unfortunately, ‘keeping on our toes’ can sometimes mean that stress takes its toll on our bodies, and what suffers, of course, is our health.

Back pain is one of the most prevalent symptoms of unresolved stress. And stress left unchecked can cause a myriad of health problems, often starting as mild pain and sometimes even growing into serious health issues. If you’re a back pain sufferer who deals with stress by concealing it from others … and even yourself … chances are great that your pain is a result of anxiety and stress.

Nearly all Israelis will suffer from back pain at one time or other in their lives. In fact, back pain is one of the most common reasons for doctor visits, not just in our country, but the world over. So what can be done to relieve stress, thereby alleviating the back pain that is so often associated with it? There are things you can do in your daily life to achieve stress and back pain reduction.

What stress can do to your body

Stress, especially if it goes unresolved, often leads to behaviors that cause back pain. From there, back pain can cause other problems in your body, including serious diseases of the back. Stress and anxiety often keep you from doing the things you could or even should be doing in your life. Do you find that you no longer enjoy activities that used to bring you happiness? Unchecked stress can keep you from enjoying your family. Very often stress causes fatigue, which also can keep you from enjoying your life and even from performing your normal activities of daily living. Stress causes muscle tension and pain. The fatigue you feel from all that stress can even cause changes in your posture, which can ultimately lead to serious back conditions.

Chronic back pain and back problems more often than not lead to inactivity. Often back pain sufferers feel that if they rest, this will help their back pain, or at worst, not exacerbate it. They fear their pain will get worse if they attempt to engage in activities they used to enjoy. They spend more time lying in bed or on the couch just to avoid pain. The problem with this is that too much bed rest actually can exacerbate your back problems. Your body is meant to be used and active, but if you’re spending too much time at rest because of your pain, that inactivity can cause malalignment of your spine. Too much rest may not be the catalyst, but it may be a culprit in your chronic back pain.

Stress and fatigue can often make you more susceptible to further back pain and back problems because you are now overcompensating for the pain you feel. You may find yourself twisting in unnatural ways, which can also lead to malalignment. You may even be ‘cracking’ your back to get some relief. This practice actually can cause fractures if you’re someone who has diminished bone density. It can also lead to nerve damage and even osteoarthritis. Back pain caused by stress can also lead to overuse of medications to dull the pain.

Most back pain, especially if it is related to stress, can be relieved by exercises which include stretching to lengthen muscles. Your back pain may, however, be a manifestation of a more serious back problem. Chronic back pain can lead to more serious conditions. If you find yourself too often reaching for pain killers, you may have a more serious condition that will require a consultation with a spinal or orthopedic surgeon. Diseases such as degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis, or kyphosis and scoliosis (curvatures of the spine) may benefit from surgical procedures such as spinal fusion. Spinal fusion surgery fuses abnormally mobile vertebrae that may be causing your pain. If your back pain is persistent or even getting worse, you may want to consult with a licensed, skilled spinal surgeon who can make recommendations that can relieve your pain.

Unchecked stress and anxiety can lead to many health problems, and back pain is often at the top of the list. There’s no reason to let stress take over your life. Take steps to control stress … for less pain and a healthier life.

Leave a comment