Forty-three percent of all adults suffer from adverse health effects caused from stress. One of the common ways it affects health is through back and neck pain. And the stress that causes back pain is not only limited to physical stress. Mental and emotional stress can be just as damaging to your back as lifting and twisting can be. In the short term, the tension created by emotional stress can give you a backache; but in the long term, it can set you up for a serious back injury!
Stress causes the body to release stress hormones that increases the sensitivity of pain. These hormones have a tendency to tighten up your muscles, leading to muscle spasms. The blood flow then reduces due to this tension, and leads to the increase of acidic wastes causing weakness and pain. Much like a garden hose with a twist in it, the blood flow is constricted or even cut off by the "twist", or tense muscles.
When your neck and body are not getting the right amount of blood flow they let you know with pain. When the muscles tighten up it causes the back to be more vulnerable to injury. It is very important to keep that in mind when you are stressed so that you can avoid any further injury.
The general characteristics of stress-related back pain include the following symptoms:
- Back and/or neck pain
- Sleep disturbance and fatigue
- Muscle tender points
- Diffuse muscle aches
- Patients complain of the pain to be “moving around”
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!
At the Illinois Back Institute we strive to educate everyone as much as possible about their back pain and sciatica, because it is proven that the more people know about their problem the more likely they are to eliminate it!
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