Stress, anxiety, worry and back pain

Nov 27, 2019

Stress, anxiety and worry can make us more prone to getting back pain and less likely to recover from it.

Scientific studies have shown that back pain causes distress and that distressed people get more back pain. This is similar to how these factors are linked to headaches, cold sores and irritable bowel syndrome. In other words, being run down by things like stress and worry can have a real effect on your physical health.

Secondly when you develop back pain your medical care can add to your worries. This is because we now have tests such as MRI scans which can detect things which sound scary, even if they are not related to our pain. For example, most middle aged people will have the equivalent of grey hairs and wrinkles on a back MRI scan, but calling these changes ‘’degenerative’’ is scary! Scans rarely identify something significant. However, if as a society we think that persistant back pain reflects tissue injury that is highlighted by X-ray or MRI they will continue to be requested by patients over prescribed by Dr’s.

Helping a patient with back pain identify the various triggers for their back pain can take time. This is often because patients focus on physical causes such as bending or lifting, instead of other risk factors that they may see as irrelevant or too sensitive to discuss. Discussing these issues is easier when a good rapport has been achieved . This is why we spend up to an hour for initial consultations at Bradbourne.

The most effective things to manage back pain are the things you can do for yourself – good sleep, regular movement and physical activity, manage your stress and keep a positive mindset.

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