April marks National Stress Awareness Month; a time to reflect on our stress levels for better health. However, did you know that stress can affect back pain? When we experience stress, our body releases hormones – chemicals that impact the function of our organs, like our kidneys and adrenal glands. These chemicals can contribute to elevated inflammation or irritation in our bodies. Chronic stress and anxiety can lead to muscle tension and spasms, which could result in neck and back pain. Understanding back pain mechanics and causes can help you regain mobility and strength while decreasing muscle tension. Stress can be reduced while minimizing back pain in several ways:
Walking can be one of the best medicines for a stressful life with back pain. Circulation brings oxygen and nutrition to all of our tissues, while the movement keeps those tissues flexible and strong. Walking in a rhythmic, gentle, and slow pace prevents the damaging effects of immobility.
Most of us also experience some loss of sleep when under stress. Evidence suggests that poor and/or short sleep can negatively affect the health of your back. Adequate sleep is critical for the recovery of our cognitive processes and skeletal tissue, management of stressors, and overall reduction of pain.
Eating a balanced diet can help maintain stress and limit chronic pain. Consume nutritious foods so that your body is in an optimal state to combat stress. Avoid high-fat and high-sugar foods, as these can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and increase stress; which can lead to unnecessary muscle tension and pain.
Your emotions and physical health are closely linked and repeated bouts of stress can lead to chronic back pain. Identifying your triggers and developing a treatment plan can help alleviate stress and ease back pain. Seeking professional help to manage stress can play an important role in stress management. Back and neck pain can be aggravating, so decreasing stressors in your life can help improve those stressful pain levels.
Dr. Beacham specializes in non-invasive, nonsurgical pain management therapies for back and neck pain. If you are experiencing chronic or acute back pain, Dr. Beacham can help!
AUTHOR: Dr. Doug Beacham III, DO is a fellowshipped-trained, dual-board certified physician in the fields of Anesthesiology and Pain Management (American Board of Anesthesiology). He has practiced in Oklahoma since 2013, and currently serves on the board of directors for the Oklahoma Pain Society. Dr. Beacham is proud to offer Oklahomans the most advanced and effective techniques capable of treating a full spectrum of acute and chronic conditions.