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Can Stress Actually Cause Back Pain?

stress factors for neck painYes. And here are some basic ways that stress and back pain are connected:

  • Stress leads to inflammation in the body, including in the back, causing pain.
  • Stress makes the back muscles tense up, creating stiffness and pain.
  • Stress causes the blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to back muscles, producing pain.

It has also been found that when the long muscles of the back are tense for extended periods, they become shortened, which can lead to poor posture and back pain. This can also cause herniated, bulging, and ruptured discs, as well as sciatic nerve pain.

There are also those times when the tightening of muscles from stress can impact the head, producing headaches.

But before we go any further, let’s talk about stress itself.

Stress is a normal physical response to the challenges we face in life, and it has both mental and physical parts to it. When we’re “stressed out,” the body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline. This brings on physical changes in the body, which helps respond to the stressful situation.

But while everyone will feel stress from time to time, each of us experiences it differently. Knowing what makes you stressed and how you respond to different challenges in life will help you manage stressful periods.

What’s important to note is that stress really becomes a problem when it lasts for an extended period, or if it makes us feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. When this happens, steps should be taken to manage your stress so you are able to function well at work and at home.

The common physical symptoms of stress can include:

  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension

The most common mental symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Disorganized thoughts

Getting back to stress-related back issues.

If stress is causing you to experience back pain, or pain in other places in your upper body, there are at-home remedies you can try before seeing a professional, like a physical therapist. These include:

  • Neck circles
  • Shoulder rolls
  • Application of warm compresses
  • Yoga
  • Regular movement throughout the day, especially if your job involves sitting

But, most important to know, left untreated, chronic stress can lead to quite serious health issues. Don’t delay in getting help.

*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery