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The Ultimate Back Pain Relief Tips Blog

National Stress Awareness Day: Your Back and the Effects of Stress

Posted by Dr. Jeff Winternheimer D.C. on Wed, Apr 16, 2014 @ 10:47 AM

effects of stressThere’s no way to get through the day without experiencing some amount of stress.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, a certain amount of stress can be good for you and your body.  When the effects of stress begin to interfere with normal function, that is when something should be done immediately.

The effects of stress can manifest in more than emotional discomfort.  Over time, excessive amounts of stress will have a negative impact on every part of the body.  This includes the back.  

Stress as a Contributor to Back Pain:

There is more than one way for stress to be connected with back pain.  When an individual is under a great deal of pressure at home or at work, the back muscles may become extremely tense.  This means that as the muscles along the spinal column contract, additional pressure is exerted on the lower back.  At the same time, the effects of stress may be causing the muscles in the neck to tense.  The result is a nagging pain that seems to run from the base of the neck all the way to the bottom of the spine.

In this particular scenario, easing the muscle tension is the only way to alleviate the back pain.  Some release can be obtained by applying heat or cold to the back and neck muscles.  In severe cases, a physician may recommend muscle relaxers.  These should be viewed as ways to treat the symptoms but not the underlying cause.  Over the long run, the focus should be on finding ways to reduce the level of stress that the patient experiences.

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Stress that is Generated by a Back Problem:

In some instances, stress is generated as the result of a back injury.  In these types of situations, the patient is being actively treated for the injury.  During the recovery period, the doctor’s instructions will likely include curtailing certain activities and give the back time to heal.  This in turn can lead to the patient becoming overly concerned about engaging in physical activities.  Worrying about making the back worse could in turn increase the effects of stress to the point that more muscle contractions are triggered.  That in turn slows the process of physical healing.

Frustration can also set in during this period of healing. The patient is not only worrying about overdoing it physically, but is also upset that there is even the need to curtail normal activities at all. The anger and frustration in turn helps to feed the stressful feelings.  Together, they manifest in a way that causes even more physical pain.  Unless steps are taken to break the cycle, the pain and stress will continue to feed off one another.

Recognize Your Stress & Learn To Relieve Stress:

When you are feeling stressed it's important to find a way to calm down and avoid it. Here are some tips to recognizing stress and avoiding it.

  • Make sure to get enough sleep. Proper sleep can help you cope with stress.
  • Be active! Being active can decrease your stress levels so make exercise a priority in your life.
  • Make time to relax. Try different relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing and meditation. Once you have learned these techniques you can do them daily.
  • Try massage and or aromatherapy spa treatments to help relieve your stress.
  • Don’t over do it and make sure you are not doing too much at once. Find a balance.
  • Know your limits and don’t be afraid to say no to troublesome and stressful commitments.
  • Watch what you eat. Choose nourishing foods and stay away from coffee, cola and other drinks that do little to reduce your stress.

Stress is a very important factor to your back pain. You may not be able to control all of your life's stressors, but don't let everyday demands affect your health. Try the different techniques above to help prevent neck and back pain.

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Topics: Back Pain Tips, back pain caused by stress, neck pain and stress, stress and neck pain, stress and back pain, effects of stress, general back pain, back pain and stress