Many of the maladies that we feel today are either caused by or exacerbated by stress. There are environmental stressors, such as pressure at work or money problems, or emotional stressors, such as distress or trauma from past experiences. Either way the stress can manifest itself into a physical problem such as tension or anxiety. Not all back pain is stress-related, but stress can play a significant role in creating some forms of back pain.
When a person is feeling stress their muscles tense up. This tension can happen gradually so that the person is unaware that it is occurring, and therefore difficult to release. Tension reduces blood flow to an area, which reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients going to the area and also increases the toxin buildup, since the blood isn’t carrying the toxins away. Over time the lack of oxygen will weaken a muscle, which then becomes more susceptible to injury. Short term issues such as stiffness or spasms can weaken the muscle even further which can then lead to more chronic issues such as sciatica or degenerative disk disease.
After the most painful of the back pain has been eased, and a health care provider has given the go-ahead, reducing stress should be a priority in recovery. Lessening the effects of stress is likely an ongoing process. Daily stress-reducers, such as practicing relaxation techniques and deep breathing could be combined with exercise for maximum efficacy.
Proven relaxation techniques include rest, guided relaxation, deep breathing, meditation and massage. Exercises that can benefit just about anyone are stretching, walking, swimming and yoga. The concentration in yoga also helps to quiet the mind. Aerobic exercise releases endorphins into the system, so if back pain is stemming from an emotional stressor and the sufferer is depressed then it is possible for the endorphins to elevate a person’s mood.
For the more emotionally-based stress cases, talk therapy, whether one-on-one or in a group, can be very beneficial.
For the majority of people, non-pharmaceutical methods of treatment are highly successful. However, when the back pain is caused by acute pain such (muscle spasms or strain), then muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatories might be needed initially. Caffeine can cause anxiety, so it is best if caffeine is removed from the diet, at least initially.
Eating well will also help to keep you close to your body’s ideal weight, which means less pressure and stress on the back and more nutrients in your system. Drinking several large glasses of water a day keeps everything hydrated and helps to remove toxins from the body. Resting can give muscles time to recover from stress and overuse and the body time to relax.