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Is Stress Making My Back Pain Worse?

You can experience back pain for a wide range of reasons like bad posture, strenuous sleep position, or chronic condition. Stress can not only cause back pain, but it can also worsen the aches you are already struggling with. No two individuals experience stress the same way even when dealing with physical manifestations. 

In certain cases, stress-induced mental health issues can create a cycle of pain that requires you to not only notice it but also take action to recover. Understanding how stress can increase your back pain is important because it can help you make adjustments to your daily life and implement simple tips to improve your overall health. 

How Anxiety Can Increase Back Pain

While experiencing stress is common, it may take a toll on your body when it is a chronic occurrence or when your anxiety is high. When you are stressed, certain hormone levels change and get you in the “fight or flight” mode, which can lead to increased inflammation in your body. This can cause extensive muscle tension and painful spasms that can worsen depending on your position and movements. 

Anxiety-related issues that can lead to back pain include:

  • Persistent changes in posture in uncomfortable positions can increase muscle tension.
  • Inactivity stress can lead you to avoid physical activity because you worry it will be painful, and in turn, inactivity can heighten your anxiety, creating a harmful cycle.
  • Hypersensitivity can lead you to experience a mild ache more strongly than you normally would and make you adjust your position in a way that increases your back pain.

How Can I Get Pain Relief for Stress-Induced Back Pain?

Reducing your stress is often easier said than done because of how overwhelming it can be, especially when you deal with mental and physical symptoms. Thankfully, there are several activities and tips you can incorporate into your life to improve your situation. 

To alleviate your stress-related back pain, you can:

  • Identify the causes of your anxiety instead of avoiding it. You may choose to write things down and take time to find solutions on how to address some or all your worries. 
  • Find a therapist to help you work through your stress if necessary and accessible.
  • Engage in movement and other physical activity to support your physical health. Even going for a walk every day can help you ground yourself and improve your strength and mobility.
  • Breathing or meditating are grounding techniques that can regulate your stress hormones, cortisol, and adrenaline. 
  • Improve your sleep regimen to minimize back pain and get enough rest every night.
  • Practice good posture and avoid heavy lifting to prevent additional strain on your back.
  • Stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet to get the necessary nutrients to support your body functions.

Should I See a Doctor for My Back Pain?

If you have made efforts to alleviate your stress and implemented healthy habits to increase and support your well-being, but are still experiencing back pain, you should consider seeing a specialist. Finding an experienced orthopedic doctor helps you receive a thorough assessment of your situation. This can include a physical examination, medical imaging and testing, and reviewing your health history and symptoms timeline.

Even if your stress levels remain about the same, you may not want to let severe or increased back pain linger. Not seeing a doctor could lead to future complications. A specialist can consider how stress impacts your back pain, but they can get to the underlying issue that causes it in the first place and recommend a treatment plan. 

If you are experiencing persistent back pain, contact us by calling (239) 334-7000 or online by filling out this short contact form. We can help reduce your symptoms and help you get back to the activities that you love doing.