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Does Stress Cause Back Pain

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Pay Attention To Your Gut

How Do Stress and Anxiety Affect Back Pain, and What Can I do about it?

The gut-brain connection is no joke it can link anxiety to stomach problems and vice versa. Have you ever had a gut-wrenching experience? Do certain situations make you feel nauseous? Have you ever felt butterflies in your stomach? We use these expressions for a reason. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion. Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation all of these feelings can trigger symptoms in the gut.

The brain has a direct effect on the stomach and intestines. For example, the very thought of eating can release the stomachs juices before food gets there. This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a persons stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. Thats because the brain and the gastrointestinal system are intimately connected.

This is especially true in cases where a person experiences gastrointestinal upset with no obvious physical cause. For such functional GI disorders, it is difficult to try to heal a distressed gut without considering the role of stress and emotion.

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Can Stress Cause Back Pain

01-29-21 – Back Pain, Health & Wellness

Short answer Yes! Although many sources of back pain are caused by mechanical stresses, or due to imbalances in muscles or alignment, excessive force on a shock-absorbing disc, or overuse and repetitive activity, each of these painful conditions are influenced by our emotional state.

Can Stress Cause Back Pain The Research Explained

Are you affected by lower back pain? Are you experiencing extreme stress and back pain between shoulder blades? Are you wondering can stress cause back pain?

There are a great many theories linking stress with body pains and back pains in particular. Most studies confirm that emotional and psychological factors play a role in the physical manifestation of pains, especially along the neck and the back. But, first, lets look at all the probable causes for back pains.

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Definitions Of Chronic Lbp And Degree Of Stress

Participants who answered yes to the question, Have you had low back pain for more than 30 days in the last 3 months? were defined as having chronic LBP.

Participants were divided into four categories according to their degree of stress based on their response to the question, How much stress do you usually feel in your daily life?: those who responded very much were classified as the severe stress group, a lot as the moderate stress group, a little as the mild stress group, and hardly any as the no stress group.

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A mix of physical and emotional components that give you the fight or flight impulse in the face of danger generally triggers an immediate stress response. When triggered, cortisol and adrenaline are released, which helps prepare the body to take action. As a physical response to this, we experience high blood pressure, elevated heart rates, or heavy breathing. When this cycle repeats often, it may cause aches and irritation in the nerves.

In his book From Paralysis to Fatigue, Dr. Edward Shorter throws light on the history of psychosomatic illnesses. A diagnosis developed as early as the 1820s talks about “spinal irritation,” and most modern-day researchers attribute this to a form of stress-related back pain.

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Fight Or Flight Response

The way our body manages stress is a balance between our sympathetic nervous system and our parasympathetic nervous system . A significant part of our sympathetic nervous system travels along the psoas, another strong connection between the iliopsoas and our stress response.

The vagus nerve is a main component of the parasympathetic nervous system. The vagus nerve travels throughout our diaphragm and affects our breathing. A strong indicator that our bodies are resilient to stress is that our vagus nerve is able to regulate heart rate variability: the ability of your body to speed up the heart when increased blood flow is needed and to relax again once that need diminishes.

When your diaphragm doesn’t allow you to take deep breaths, your vagus nerve isnt stimulated properly. Since the vagus nerve is a part of the rest-and-digest response of the parasympathetic nervous system, when we take deep breaths into our abdomen, it helps us shift from fight-or-flight to rest-and-digest.

The ability to breathe into your abdomen and not just your chest relates in part to the diaphragm’s alignment, which is also impacted by tension in the iliopsoas muscles.

Thesephysical reactions in the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems do not just occur when we experience a moment of stress, though. As humans, we have a unique ability to evoke emotions from our memories as well.

Excretory And Digestive Systems

Anxiety also affects your excretory and digestive systems. You may have stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. Loss of appetite can also occur.

There may be a connection between anxiety disorders and the development of irritable bowel syndrome after a bowel infection. IBS can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.

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Persistent Pain Or Weakness

If you’ve suffered with back pain for a period of time, or have flare-ups and episodes of back pain, or if you develop tingling in or weakness in your legs or elsewhere, it’s time to seek medical advice. Your GP will be able to take a history, and ask you about accompanying symptoms such as sensations in the legs or problems with certain movements.

In some cases, it may be necessary to have an X-ray or MRI scan to establish the cause of pain and rule out rare conditions such as spinal cancer. Your doctor will then be able to refer you for appropriate treatment.

Can Stress Cause Shoulder And Back Pain

Does Stress Or Anxiety Cause Pain

During periods of stress, three main hormones are released which lead to physical and mental responses: adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine.

  • Body releases adrenaline to prepare the body to flee, if necessary
  • Adrenaline increases the heart rate and blood pressure, and muscles tense
  • Body releases the hormone cortisol when the brain recognizes the threat
  • Cortisol increases the glucose in the bloodstream and regulates other body functions
  • Cortisol increases the availability of various substances that play a role in tissue repair
  • Body releases norepinephrine, which is similar to adrenaline
  • Norepinephrine increases mental awareness and focus and shifts blood flow to muscles so better able to flee

The hormones associated with the stress response are supposed to flow and ebb and not be continually released. When they remain at high levels due to frequent bouts of stress, the hormones will constrict blood vessels and reduce the blood flow to soft tissues, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This leads to tight or tense muscles. The muscles are unable to relax normally and are not getting the nutrients needed to stay healthy. Also called muscle rigidity, the muscles in the neck, shoulders, and around the spine tense in preparation for fleeing.

The shoulders and back have primary nerves and muscles running through them. When the muscles and nerves are put under stress, sore shoulders and back develop.

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What Can I Do For My Lower Back Pain

The first step in getting relief from your back pain is to identify its cause. For instance, the treatment for trauma-induced back pain may be something for which you need professional help, while tension-induced pain may be able to be treated at home.

In general, over-the-counter medications, ice, and heat can provide significant relief from run-of-the-mill lower back pain. At the onset of your back pain, apply a cold compress for about 15 minutes, 3 4 times a day. After the first few days, use a heating pad instead. Warm showers or baths may also help loosen your muscles and relieve your pain. In some cases, massage therapy may help alleviate your symptoms. However, make sure that you seek treatment from a qualified, certified, and experienced professional, as improper techniques may result in a worsening of your pain.

For back pain that is caused by more serious conditions, including disk problems or osteoarthritis, professional intervention may be needed. In some cases, surgery may be recommended, but there are many instances when less invasive techniques can be equally or even more beneficial. Dr. Williams is proud to offer the breakthrough Regenexx family of procedures to his patients suffering from chronic pain and other problems. During your initial consultation, Dr. Williams will thoroughly evaluate your case, begin the process of diagnosing your condition, and explain how Regenexx treatment may benefit you.

Easy Tips To Relieve Stress

Stress affects the body in a variety of ways,from mood swings and headaches to weight fluctuations. However, an often overlookedside effect of stress is neck and back pain. Over time, repetitive bouts ofstress can cause musculoskeletal issues in these regions of the body.

When we get stressed out, the body naturally releases certainhormones. Adrenaline is associated with the ancient fight or flight phenomenonthat heightens our blood pressure, increases our blood supply, and causes themuscles around our spine to tense and spasm in case we need to flee the sourceof the stress. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone it interferes with avariety of functions. Elevations in cortisol can lead to loss of muscle massand increases in fat accumulation.

“Stress affects the body in a variety of ways, from mood swings and headaches to weight fluctuations. However, an often-overlooked side effect of stress is neck and back pain. Over time, repetitive bouts of stress can cause musculoskeletal issues in these regions of the body.”

Kavita Trivedi, D.O.

Data suggest that adults know stress affects their spines. Online survey participants ranked the No. 1 perceived cause of their neck and back pain as follows:

  • Stress: 29 percent
  • Spinal disc herniation: 21 percent
  • Sitting at a desk at work: 20 percent

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Anatomy Of Stress And Emotions

Just as all of our stresses will be different, where we hold tension tends to vary from person to person. However, the most common stress-related muscle tension patterns occur in the neck or hip muscles.

This is mainly due to the fact that many of our most essential organs are directly next to the iliacus muscle in the pelvis. The pelvic area not only experiences physical and sexual trauma, but due to its location close to the reproductive system, its a common place for holding tension related to relationships and our sense of survival and safety.

Our digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems, as well as major lymph, nerves, and blood vessels, are in this area. This makes the iliacus muscle vital in protecting this area of our bodies. Similarly, the neck muscles serve the vital purpose of supporting and protecting our spinal cord and brain.

Lower Back Stretches To Reduce Pain And Build Strength

Pin on Home remedies for to get rid from Abdominal pain

Lower back pain is a fairly common health concern, as so many things can cause it.

In some cases, it might be a symptom of an underlying condition, like kidney stones or acute pancreatitis. Other times, its simply a side effect of a sedentary lifestyle or repetitive motions.

While stretching isnt a remedy for all lower back pain, in many instances, it can provide relief. If youve been living with some mild discomfort or stiffness, these seven stretches may help reduce the pain and strengthen the muscles in your lower back.

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Treating Your Physical And Emotional Pain

Taking medication or having surgery can address the physical cause of your pain, but if you’re anxious or depressed, it won’t solve your entire problem. “You need to treat the structural problem and the psychological problem. Both need to be addressed at the same time,” Schofferman says.

For people with mild to moderate low back pain, a supervised exercise program may be enough to treat physical and psychological symptoms. “Many times when the person exercises under supervisionâ¦their depression improves, their anxiety can improve, and their avoidance improves,” says Schofferman. The goal of these programs is to strengthen the muscles of your back and the areas that support your back , and teach you how to do everyday activities — like lifting and bending — without hurting your back.

If you have more chronic, severe low back pain, it helps to see not just one doctor, but a whole team of experts that can include your regular doctor, an orthopaedic doctor or physiatrist, as well as a chronic pain specialist, physical therapist, and psychologist. All of these specialists should have experience in treating chronic pain.

Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and biofeedback can teach you how to ease the muscle tension that’s contributing to your low back pain. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to relieve pain, help you sleep, or ease your depression and anxiety.

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Stress Over Existing Back Pain

If you have an existing condition, stress over ongoing back pain can actually cause even more discomfort. This type of stress is a vicious cycle since its actually frustration over back pain thats causing stress that can slow down the healing and recovery process. Stress of this nature is often caused by:

Concern over whether or not treatments will work Anxiety about the possibility of having spine surgery Frustration over having to limit or restrict certain activities until your back pain subsides or becomes more manageable

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How Does Stress Cause Stomach Pain

Your brain may get most of the credit for overall control of your body, but the intestines have their own nervous system that is so powerful, its sometimes known as a second brain. This system is called the enteric nervous system.

With the largest collection of nerve cells in the body outside of the brain, the enteric nervous system not only controls gastrointestinal functions separately from the brain, but it also produces and responds to the same stress hormones and neurotransmitters that our brains do.

The link between your gut and your brain stems from this system. Even though these two systems function independently, this connection allows your brain to monitor your digestive tract and modify activity within your gut.

What To Do When Anxiety Causes Leg Pain

Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Physical Pain? | Neuroscience Of The Mind Body Connection
  • Some forms of leg pain can be caused directly by anxiety
  • Other types of leg pain can be caused by other issues but exacerbated by anxiety
  • Often improving your breathing style and taking your mind off your pain can be enough to reduce the symptoms
  • Leg pain from anxiety is never dangerous, but those with anxiety leg pain should try to avoid over-correcting as a result of their leg pain, as this may put pressure on other parts of the body
  • Reducing anxiety overall is the only way to reduce the frequency

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Can Going To A Chiropractor Help With Anxiety

One stressor causing physical pain and ailments leading to the cause of more and different conditions are the kinds of things chiropractors look for to get to the root of your problems. Chiropractors have many tools at their disposal besides spinal adjustments, such as massage therapy, magnetic resonance therapy designed to reduce the symptoms of chronic stress, lifestyle advice, and more.

How To Stop Stress From Contributing To Back Pain

Managing your stress and anxiety levels will do much more than just potentially relieve your back pain. It will help boost your mood, relieve tension and result in an overall happier you. Well discuss the best methods to manage your stress below:

Massage Therapy

Massaging is a beneficial approach to treating back pain and lowering stress levels. It helps alleviate pain and increase blood flow to your muscles, and your pain will likely feel much better after a good deep-tissue massage. Treat yourself by booking an hour long deep-tissue massage at least once a month.

Another option is to use self-massage tools. Trigger point massagers are great and easy to use, or you can simply use a lacrosse ball or tennis ball to roll out tight areas in your back, hips and shoulders.


Ideally, you should be stretching every day, as it will lengthen muscles that have been shortened and tightened from stress and poor posture. This may help you feel more relieved throughout the day and less tense.

The primary muscles you want to focus on stretching are your upper traps, hamstrings, chest and hip flexors.

Physical Activity

Although it may be tempting to completely stop physical activity during the onset of back pain, this will only make matters worse.

Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of activity, regardless of what it is, every day.

Correct Your Posture

Use the following list as various tips to improve your posture when sitting:

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Socioeconomic Factors In Stress And Chronic Pain

There is evidence that disparity in many dimensions of socio-economic status such as income, education, and occupation, account for a significant variance of medical morbidities and mortalities.15,16 Studies have found a so-called gradient between occupational hierarchy and health disparities in adults. People in the bottom of the gradient have worse morbidities and mortalities.15 These SES disparities can in turn translate at the individual level to environmental stressors leading to a vulnerability to depression, substance use disorders, and obesity among others.4,17 Furthermore, children growing up in poor communities are at an increased risk of exposure to crime, economic hardship, and pollution18 this in turn can lead to adverse behavioral 17,19 and neurodevelopmental outcomes .20,21 While the brain is believed to be at the center of this process, the direct path linking SES factors to neurobiological brain adaptive and maladaptive responses remains largely unknown,9 with pain and stress as putative contributing factors.

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