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Can Stress Cause Back Pain?

Stress can lead to a wide range of physical problems, including causing pain in certain areas of the body. One such area is your back, with studies showing that stress and back pain can be very closely linked, especially for people who work in busy, high-pressure environments.

In this article, we will discuss whether stress can cause back pain, the reasons why, and how you can reduce your stress levels to avoid any back problems.  

The Link Between Stress and Back Pain

There are many studies and theories relating to the connection between stress levels and back pain. Stress-related back pain is said to be brought on by psychological and emotional factors that can be caused by all manners of things, resulting in physical changes that can result in issues such as pain and fatigue, for example. 

Of course, stress-related pain is not limited to the back, as areas such as the head, neck, or internal organs can also be affected. Prolonged stress can be a vicious cycle if the issues causing stress are not resolved quickly, resulting in the pain worsening over time, thus, causing additional stress. If this cycle is left to continue, then even more serious mental issues can develop, impacting a person’s quality of life. 

Back pain can be very debilitating, stopping a person from performing daily functions and doing activities that they enjoy. This can lead to depression and anxiety, so it is advised to speak to your doctor as soon as signs of stress or back pain begin to develop. 

Many people also follow outdated advice when suffering from back pain, becoming less active, and resting too much. Doctors recommend that a person remains as mobile as possible to avoid any physical de-conditioning or weakening of the muscles which could make the pain even worse. 

9 Ways To Reduce Stress Levels

Below are 9 ways to reduce stress levels and anxiety, improve your overall well-being, and prevent any physical issues from developing. 

  • Physical Activities

Keeping busy and moving is very effective when it comes to reducing stress levels. Activities such as playing sports, going to the gym, or something as easy as going for a walk are all great ways of minimizing stress and improving your mood. 

  •  EatBetter

Maintaining a healthy diet can improve all aspects of your health, even your mental health. Too much sugar and processed foods can increase stress levels, and unfortunately, these are the types of food people turn to when they are feeling stressed and want a comfort snack. 

Eating more vegetables, fish, beans, and nuts can help to better nourish your body, keeping your weight down and maintaining your well-being. 

  • Less Screen Time

In the modern world, it is practically impossible to avoid using a smartphone, computer, or tablet. However, these devices can add to stress levels if used for long periods of time, and in some cases, even lead to addiction. One reason is the link between too much screen time and poor sleeping patterns, as not getting enough sleep is a primary source of stress.

  • Reduce Your Caffeine Intake

Coffee, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks all contain a chemical called caffeine which stimulates the central nervous system. Consuming too much caffeine can lead to increased anxiety, impacting your sleep, and resulting in stress. 

  • Vitamins and Minerals

There are a number of vitamins and minerals that can help to regulate mood and reduce stress. If a person is lacking in certain nutrients, then taking supplements is recommended to maintain a healthy balance in your body. 

Magnesium is one mineral in particular that is closely related to the management of stress levels. Other supplements to consider are Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, B vitamins, and L-theanine.

  • Self-Care

Self-care is the practice of doing things that can improve your well-being and make you feel less stressed. Activities can include:

  • Taking a bath
  • Lighting Candles and incense to create a calming atmosphere
  • Yoga
  • Getting a massage
  • Exercise
  • Goingon a walk
  • Reading a book
  • Cooking
  • Knitting, embroidery, drawing, or other calming hobbies
  • Socializing

Socializing with friends and family can help a person get through a stressful time and make it easier to cope with stress. Creating a social support system is vital if you are prone to stress and anxiety. It may also be worth trying to expand your social network by joining a sports team, book club, or exercise class, for example. 

  • Stop Procrastinating

Procrastination stops you from completing important tasks and can make you fall behind at work. A heavy workload is one of the main causes of stress, so you should increase your efforts in regard to managing this workload and prioritizing what needs to be done without delay. 

To help with this you could create to-do lists, set manageable deadlines, turn off your phone, and sit away from distractions such as the TV. 

  • Deep Breathing

During anxious moments, deep breathing exercises can slow down your heartbeat and have a calming effect. Stress hormones trigger symptoms such as quick breathing and a faster heartbeat, which can have a negative mental impact.

By focusing on your breathing, you can reduce these symptoms, allowing you to focus on the matter at hand. 

Curing Back Pain

If your back pain is not related to stress and you are suffering from a physical condition such as stenosis or spondylolisthesis then your doctor will likely recommend a range of treatments However, if this treatment proves ineffective, the next step may be surgery. 

Traditional surgery such as decompression surgery and spinal fusion can help to cure the pain but can come with a number of side effects, such as a lack of flexibility in the spine. This is why many surgeons now recommend modern spinal devices such as the Premia Spine TOPS System so that the patient maintains a full range of motion. 


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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