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Does Stress Cause Back Pain

Total Chiropractic Can Help Improve Your Overall Health

Does Stress Or Anxiety Cause Pain

Dr. Todd Goldman of Total Chiropractic Care has the years of experience and tools at his disposal to improve your spinal health, and as a result, improve your overall health and well-being. Our Medford office includes state of the art equipment, an extensive list of offered services beyond spinal adjustments, and are dedicated to helping our patients beyond the confines of our offices. Reach out to us and start getting more out of your day, every day.

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 and physical activity during the onset of back pain, this will only make matters worse.

You want to continue doing any activity that doesnt worsen your back pain. And if you are currently sedentary, then you should start increasing your activity level by at least going for a short walk every day.

What Causes Stress Related Pain

The real reason for stress back pain may vary for different people. Some may be financially overburdened, while others may be working long hours or doing frequent overtime to meet professional and personal targets. Stress can also pile up with other underlying health care issues, such as the inability to handle emotions during the death of a loved one or feeling stuck in a bad marriage.

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Your Terrible Diet Could Exacerbate Back Aches

Heard of the quarantine 15? If you swapped your healthy diet and fitness routine for biceps curls that involved pizza, sourdough bread, sweets and booze, you may have experienced some weight gain this year. And while a few extra pounds might not seem like that big of a dealunless youre the seam on a pair of pantsa poor diet could cause inflammation that leads to pain. Not only does an unhealthy diet eventually impact your mood, but also it increases proinflammatory responses to stressors, which cause inflammation in the body.

Certain foods that are high in sugar or with high glycemic indexlike pizza, pasta and bagels — are likely to cause spikes in blood sugar which can lead to adipose tissue formation, says Dr. Bonte. Some data show that inflammatory markers are elevated with increased adipose tissue. Furthermore, additional weight is additional stress across our bones, intervertebral discs, and ligaments, and can make back pain worse.

Can Stress Cause Back Pain And Neck Pain

Does stress cause back pain?

Yes, stress can cause significant amounts of back and neck pain.1 Stress-induced back pain is not a regular medical diagnosis. However, it is the most common cause of back pain.4 When stress manifests itself in the form of physical pains, we tend to tighten the muscles around our shoulders and down our spine. It is this tension and stress between shoulder blades that causes us to experience back pain. This is known as Tension Myositis Syndrome or TMS.6

On the other hand, stress may not always be the primary cause of neck and shoulder pain. However, it sure can worsen the smallest of existing aches. Stress causes you to clench the jaw, neck, and shoulders muscles, restricting movement in the area.

Upper back pain from stress is pretty common. This may be due to poor posture due to a sedentary lifestyle, trauma from accidents, going overboard or working your upper back more than usual, improper lifting techniques at the gym, or lifting heavy objects. All of the above could lead to an imbalance in the upper back, muscle strains, ligament tears, inflammation, spinal disc or soft tissue injuries, and inflammation in the upper back.

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Whats Addressed In An Exam For Back Pain

If you have been having persistent back pain, a specialist will perform an in-office exam before ordering imagery or jumping to a diagnosis. This will help to identify potential problems and hopefully lead your specialist down the correct path for your treatment and pain management plan.

There are some specific questions you can expect to be asked whenever you see a doctor about back pain:

  • Where does it hurt?
  • Is there radiating pain and where?
  • Are you experiencing leg pain?
  • Does anything help your pain?
  • Does anything make your pain worse?
  • Do you have a history of back pain?

Along with these questions, you can also expect a thorough exam in order to try and identify the exact point of pain. Youll probably be impressed at how quickly a specialist can isolate the point of pain when it comes to having back or joint pain. If the exam is inconclusive, imagery will probably be order, such as x-rays or an MRI, in order to provide further information as to the cause of your pain.

Managing Pain From Stress And Anxiety

Everyone reading this has likely experienced one stressful situation already today. If left unchecked, these little daily stressors our human affinity for anxiety, and harboring past emotional traumas can cause deep hip pain and even lower back pain from stress.

We often associate anxiety pain with chest pain, which also occurs, but the diaphragm muscles connect to the iliopsoas. All of our muscles tightening to protect us is a natural reaction, but our daily life will become much harder if we try to muscle through with unresolved tension.

Finding time to slow down, take a few deep abdominal breaths, and work other stress management techniques into your daily routine can help give your muscles a much-needed break, and help you relieve some stress.

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Stress And Pain Negatively Impacts Life

Can stress cause shoulder pain? Yes! Can stress cause back pain? Yes! Can stress cause muscle pain? Yes! Often, people do not address stress until the neck, shoulder, and back pain becomes unbearable or interferes with work and other activities. It is important to see a doctor who will help you develop a plan for reducing the stress placed on muscles, tendons, and ligaments and to manage the pain.

Can Depression Cause Aches And Pains And Vice Versa

Does Stress Affect Back Pain or Neck Pain?

If you have never experienced chronic pain before, its a severe case of aches and discomfort that lasts much longer than it should typically take for the body to heal.

For example, when you hurt your back, it should take a couple of weeks at most for things to steadily get better before the problem is completely gone. However, that pain sometimes lingers without getting better at all for several weeks, months, or even years, as is the case if you have degenerative arthritis. The condition can even come and go during that period, but as long as the same issue comes back consistently, it is considered chronic pain.

But does chronic pain cause depression?

For those that have dealt with this type of pain before, you know how absolutely frustrating it can be on a daily basis. You wake up in the morning hoping to feel refreshed and reenergized, only to find out that your body still isnt doing any better than the day before. Youre stuck in this position of not being able to perform your daily activities such as:

  • working
  • sitting or standing for extended periods
  • completing routine tasks

How are depression and pain related? When your body isnt performing like its supposed to, or like it used to, especially if you are someone that is usually very physically active, there is no way that you can stop it from altering your mood. For the first few weeks or even months, you may be able to work past the way you are feeling inside.

Some of the most common reasons for depression are:

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Why Poor Sleep Is Associated With Back Pain

Raise your hand if you experienced some loss of sleep this year over worries about the coronavirus, your finances, your familys health, the election, civil unrest and riots, fires, natural disasters or any of the other awful circumstances that plagued the United States and the world this year. Once youve all put your hands down, you might be interested to learn that poor sleep or short sleep could impact your back health.

Sleep is critical for the recovery of our cognitive processes as well as for the recovery of our skeletal tissue, Dr. Bonte says. When this is disrupted, it means that we might make more mistakes or take longer to perform the same tasks. Particularly in people whose job involves higher degrees of physical effort, this can lead to mistakes which may lead to injuries.

That being said, we understand that when youre experiencing back pain, it can be harder to fall asleep or stay asleep. If you have back pain or chronic pain, you probably already know what studies have shownthat poor sleep is associated with a higher risk of pain the next day. Getting adequate sleep can help you manage stressors better and possibly reduce overall pain.

Back Pain Treatment In Boulder

If you are suffering from recurring back pain in Boulder, chiropractic treatment at Dr. Robert Hochfelder Chiropractic Clinic and DOT Exam Center could be the right solution for you. Back pain usually affects everyone at some point in their life whether it be on a large or small scale. No matter the level of pain your back is causing you, it would be better to live without pain. Sometimes this back pain is unbearable and can affect the day to day tasks of a person. The goal of this article is to provide insight regarding the origin of lower back pain and the approach a chiropractor will take in order to ensure your back is once again strong and healthy. Our Boulder chiropractor can help with back pain symptoms.

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Treatment Options When Pain And Anxiety Or Depression Intersect

In patients with depression or anxiety, various psychotherapies can be used on their own to treat pain or may be combined with drug treatment.

Cognitive behavioral therapy. Pain is demoralizing as well as hurtful. Cognitive behavioral therapy is not only an established treatment for anxiety and depression, it is also the best studied psychotherapy for treating pain. CBT is based on the premise that thoughts, feelings, and sensations are all related. Therapists use CBT to help patients learn coping skills so that they can manage, rather than be victimized by, their pain.

Relaxation training. Various techniques can help people to relax and reduce the stress response. Stress tends to exacerbate pain as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression. Techniques include progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, and mindfulness training.

Hypnosis. During this therapy, a clinician helps a patient achieve a trance-like state and then provides positive suggestions for instance, that pain will improve. Some patients can also learn self-hypnosis. One study showed that hypnosis training reduced both gastrointestinal distress and levels of depression and anxiety in 71% of those studied.

Exercise. There’s an abundance of research that regular physical activity boosts mood and alleviates anxiety, but less evidence about its impact on pain.

What Emotion Causes Lower Back Pain

How Does Stress Cause Back Pain?

If a person is worried or anxious, hormones chemicals that impact the function of our organs, like our kidneys and adrenal glands, growth, and our readiness for fight or flight, are triggered and released. These chemicals can contribute to an elevated state of inflammation or irritation in our bodies. The nerves that carry information about sensations such as pressure, vibration, pain, heat, and cold also can become hyper-sensitive, a state that is referred to as central sensitization. When nerves are sensitized, a person may feel the sensation of pain when there is seemingly no physical source or reason.

Pain science is incredibly complex. Along with the chemical irritation to nerve endings, pain often leads to a change in how much and the manner in which we move. Immobility can compound the sensation of pain by limiting normal circulation, joint and tissue nutrition that happens as we move. So that leads us to the question, can stress cause back pain? Stress is a normal part of everyday life. When our nervous system is in a heightened state of central sensitization, emotional stress can cause an abrupt onset of low back or neck pain. Chronic stress and anxiety can lead to signals to tense muscles causing spasms, and the resulting pain can shift and move to different areas sharp pain, deep aches, or pain with certain movements.

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Counseling For Environmental Hardships

A common contributor to stress is environmental factors. You may have recently lost your job, be facing severe financial hardship, or have suffered the loss of a close relationshipand the stress from these experiences may be provoking your lower back pain symptoms.

See How Does Stress Cause Back Pain?

It is often a good idea to find assistance through counseling or therapy to relieve stress caused by environmental hardships. A trained mental health counselor or psychologist can teach you strategies to cope with, and minimize, the causes of your stress. For example, she or he can teach you to plan in advance, and also help with developing strategies to deal with the difficult people in your life.

What Does It Mean If Your Back Hurts Out Of Nowhere

How does this happen? And how can we experience different types of back pain when nothing is physically wrong? The answer lies in what we now know about the science of pain. Have you ever heard the expression its all in your head? Think again. All pain is REAL. The source of pain may not be something physical, like a muscle strain or a ligament sprain. How pain is felt is influenced by our past experiences, memories, and even our fears.

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Decreased Energy And Insomnia

Chronic fatigue and can also be caused by prolonged stress.

For example, one study of 2,483 people found that fatigue was strongly associated with increased stress levels .

Stress may also disrupt sleep and cause insomnia, which can lead to low energy.

One small study found that higher levels of work-related stress were associated with increased sleepiness and restlessness at bedtime .

Another study of 2,316 participants showed that experiencing a higher number of stressful events was significantly associated with an increased risk of insomnia .

These studies show an association, but they dont account for other factors that may have played a role. Further research is needed to determine if stress can directly cause decreased energy levels.

Other factors that may play a role in decreased energy levels include dehydration, low blood sugar, a poor diet or an underactive thyroid.

Summary Stress is associated with fatigue and disruptions in sleep, which may result in decreased energy levels.

Why Chronic Back Pain Is Connected To Your Head

Stress Causes Chronic Back Pain

When your physical movement is limited, this can cause psychological distress, and the psychological distress can, in return, worsen the pain. Your personal health beliefs and coping strategies can influence both your level of distress and course of the pain. For instance, if you are anxiety-prone, expect the worst, and have catastrophic thinking, this can make the pain far worse. Thats because those psychological vulnerabilities can change your brain and intensify the pain.

Often, if you have these pre-existing psychological attitudes, you also have abnormalities in the regulation of your brains chemistry , and the usual brain functions in emotional control, anxiety, and attention are also disrupted. As a result, you cant control your distress your become anxious you expect the worst and you cant focus on anything else. The pain becomes all-consuming.

But its not just pre-existing attitudes that worsen back pain. The pain itself can rewire your brain. When pain first occurs, it impacts your pain-sensitivity brain circuits. But when pain lasts, the related brain activity switches away from the pain circuits to circuits that process emotions. Thats why emotions like anxiety often take center stage in chronic back pain. And its why emotional control becomes that much more difficult.

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How Does Stress Cause Back Pain

Let’s look at the logical progression of how stress causes muscle pain and tension.Being anxious activates the bodys stress response which causes us to become tense and more resilient in order to fight, freeze or flee from a perceived danger. It also creates a cascade of chemical changes in the body, which in turn, lead to muscle tension, muscle spasm and consequent back, shoulder and neck pain, as shown in this chart:

The greater the degree of stress response, the tighter the muscles are likely to become. If the body remains in a state of elevated stress, the muscles can become so tight that chronic pain, stiffness and soreness are likely to ensue. Furthermore if they remain in this state of tension for some time, muscles are more susceptible to spasm and ‘locking up’ as well as further strain and damage, which will exacerbate any existing weaknesses.

Any muscle, or group of muscles, can suffer the consequences of stress, particularly those in the neck, shoulders, upper, mid and lower back. Here are some key reasons why:

Shoulders and neck

Have you ever had a massage and cringed at the pain across your neck and shoulders? When we are stressed we tend to subconsciously hold our shoulders in a raised position which can shorten and tighten the muscles in the neck and shoulder area.

The muscles become strained, particularly at the tendons, where they join the bone at the back of the skull resulting in aching shoulders and a sore neck.

Mid and upper back

Lower back


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