Back-Healthy Habits: Stress Reduction and Back Pain Relief

Back-Healthy Habits: Stress Reduction and Back Pain Relief Due to structural changes to the intervertebral discs and soft tissues of your back, certain pressures may be put in the nerves and nerve roots of your back, which in turn, may send pain signals to your brain. The pressures on put on the nerves of the back, due to conditions such as degenerative disc disease, may send pain signals to our brain, resulting in our experience of back pain. Many of these degenerative changes to our back are not reversible. Does that mean that we will have to either take pain killers for the rest of our life, or simply have to "learn to live with it"? No, it doesn't. There are two major things you can do to overcome the some of the degenerative structural changes in your back:
  • You can go about a physiotherapy (physical therapy) program to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen (core) and back. If your physical therapy program is successful, the increase of strength in your core and back muscles will compensate for some of the structural instability brought out on by age or injury related changes to the discs and soft tissues, and you will experience back pain relief.
  • You may also experience back pain relief by sending other signals to the brain other than pain signals. Imagine yourself as the pain center of the brain. If you are receiving a continuous supply of pain signals only, you are going to decide that there is something wrong with the part of the body where the pain signals come from. Your body will begin experiencing back pain, and all the things that go with it, including inflammation and stiffness in that area. Now imaging that there are suddenly signals new signals coming into this area of the brain, that are triggered positive sensations, such as a relaxing of the muscles due to immersion in a hot tub, of relaxation therapy. These signals may suddenly compete with the pain signals at similar receptor sites in the brain. If the comfort signals begin to override the pain signals, the person may eventually experience a reduction in their back pain signals.


Thus far, we have established that there are many factors that influence how we experience degenerative changes to our back, and the way we emotionally deal with our physical problems may influence how we feel physically. It is complicated, but know this: people who experience high levels of stress, as a result of the pain or now, experience frequencies of chronic pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia and chronic back pain.

Being in pain can drain you physically. It can make you scared to do anything physical that would make it worse, and it can make it uncomfortable to do many everyday activities. Being in pain can also be stressful, and being under stress can add to your pain. Because of the close interaction between stress and pain, many patients with chronic pain are managed using multiple therapy modalities, including stress-reduction therapies, to try to get a handle on your condition. There are many things you can do on your own to try to manage stress, including listening to relaxing music and taking walks in scenic areas. There are also many professionals who can teach you techniques to relax yourself and get your stress levels under control, including yoga instructors and therapists who teach biofeedback.