A guide to understanding stress and back pain

With over 3 out of 10 people above the age of 50 suffering from back pain, it is become a common problem that’s only increasing in adults. A lot of times back pain is much easier to address than other type of chronic pains. Over time it has also been seen that back pain may actually be all in our head.


When it comes to back pain, our soft tissues that are in our backs begin to heal after we’ve suffered from an accident or just wear and tear, this happens even when you’re above the age of 50. That natural repair takes place over time, whether it’s a week or few months but during that period even when our backs have recovered the brain may continue to send pain impulses that form neurological pathways over time and once those pathways are in place they remain there for good.


According to Dr. David Hanscom who is a spinal surgeon, that stress plays a large role in creating those pathways that increase back pain over time. Stress sends our body into fight or flight mode which in turn release adrenaline and puts the body into a heightened state. This in turn causes muscle tension which only alleviates back pain.


Dr Hanscom states that the best way to decrease back pain and stop the pathways from getting etched into your neural system is to first address your sleeping patterns. The best way to keep stress at bay and keep your mind at peace is really a good nights sleep. He states that most people with chronic back pain tend to sleep poorly and that results is a poor quality of life.


Sleep is so critical to reducing stress and rerouting the brain’s circuitry that Hanscom recommends the use of medication for people who are kept awake by pain or anxiety. Once patients are sufficiently rested, Hanscom prescribes a writing regimen to further distance them from their pain. The object is to write down negative thoughts and then immediately destroy the paper. To keep a journal is to hold on to those thoughts, so journaling is counterproductive, he says.


Carrying out some of these basic tasks related to sleep and mental well being play a much larger role in addressing chronic back pain. While some back pain may solely be related to a physical source such as an accident, in most cases stress and mental wellness also play a part in us relieving that back pain which gets worse over time if not tended to.

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