Does Stress Cause Back Pain?
Yes, it can. Stress plays a huge role in not only causing back pain, but even managing back pain. As a Chiropractic Physician, I find it may take longer for stressed patients to report relief of their lower back pain than patients who manage their stress to normal levels.
What are the symptoms of stress when it comes to back pain?
Stress can manifest itself in many ways within the body. I’ll discuss some ways it can affect your back. Most people will complain of some kind of back pain in their life. The problem arises, when the pain doesn’t seem to go away within a week or so. The other serious issue arises when the pain actually becomes worse, without doing anything consciously to make it worse. Back pain that keeps you up at night, is generally considered stress related. Of course, there are numerous reasons for back pain at night, including diseases like cancer that may cause severe bone pain. That topic, I will save for another article. Stress during the day may cause relentless back pain that affects your daily activities, especially your concentration, memory, and energy level.
What Can I Do While Sleeping to Help manage my stress?
Stress related back pain may become so debilitating that it affects REM sleep, or the deepest sleep, as well. The lack of REM sleep can become a vicious cycle that causes more stress! Those with low levels of REM sleep are also at a greater risk of serious diseases like Parkinson’s, dementia, and many more.
Taking natural supplements to relax the muscles, as well as to relieve the pain are helpful to stop this cycle. The supplement Glycine, may also be taken to assist in achieving REM sleep. Together, these supplements can relax the muscles enough to fall asleep, and ensure your stage of sleep is deep enough to allow your body to heal while sleeping. I start with ordering specific blood work for my patients to see if they have any underlying conditions that may cause insomnia. I also order tests to check adrenal gland function, and cortisol levels. When supporting the body to allow it to sleep better, I ask my insomniac patients 2 questions. 1. Do you have a hard time falling asleep? 2. Do you wake too early? This leads me to which blood tests to order, as well as which supplements may help.
What Can I Do During the Day to Help My Stress and Back Pain?
Be sure and breathe deeply throughout the day from the abdomen, not from the shoulders. You should not see your shoulders rise when watching yourself take deep breaths in front of a mirror. Breathe deeply while working, exercising, and resting. So many people breathe shallowly, and this not only minimizes the oxygen going into your lungs, it also causes the muscles of the torso to become weak. This affects posture, and in turn, affects the vital organs of the torso. Acupuncture and chiropractic are two treatments that are shown to assist in normal sleep patterns.
Is There an Exercise I Can Do to Help?
A good exercise to do is to lie on your back, preferably on the floor. Take a large book and place it over your belly button. Breathe deeply and slowly, in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Breathe deeply enough to watch your stomach rise up and down with each long, extended breath. This will train your body to take deep breaths while reducing stress, and moving the oxygen appropriately throughout your muscles.