Back Pain Relief Through Stress Management
For many patients with back pain, stress and anxiety may not be the cause of back pain, but it may make the pain worse or inhibit your motivational energy to get better. Some people are better than others at managing pain without it letting affect their life, the ability to perform tasks, maintain positive relationships, and to do their jobs - at work or at home. Pain, especially when it is getting worse or is showing no signs of improvement, can be a very stressful, or even frightening experience. The questions may begin ruminating in a person's head, "Is this ever going to get better?" "How much worse is it going to get?" "Am I going to suffer like this for the rest of my life?"
Well, to put those fears to rest, let me tell you that for a very small percentage of patients, back pain becomes a lifelong, chronic problem. To successfully treat your back problem, you are going to have to correctly diagnose it, correct the underlying disease or structural problem, and to learn how to manage your stress. When you feel stressed, your muscles become tense. Muscle tension can, in turn, increase your pain and may limit your abilities, which can lead to depression. A vicious cycle of stress, pain, limited/lost abilities and depression may develop.
If you have back pain, you're not immune to the same kind of stressors that affect everyone else. Most people that are in pain are affected by it, and it can be stressful experience. The pain itself can cause the body to react with stress consciously and automatically. Personally, I am certified in sleep medicine as an R.P.S.G.T (Registered Polysomnographic Technologist). I have seen patients with chronic pain conditions vs. patients whose sleep problem was limited to an upper airway problem. Patients with chronic pain had higher frequency of alpha patterns in sleep. These alpha patterns told the doctors that the patient not only had lower quality of sleep, but that their brains were fundamentally affected by pain. Thus we are all affected by pain, even if we are tough enough to carry on with little affects on our lives.
Patients have to cope with the stress of being in pain, as well as the stress of wondering why they are in pain and if it is ever going to get any better. Patients may even begin to wonder if they deserve to be in the pain they are in, if their pain is a direct result of a lack of exercise, or their diet. While diet and exercise may play a role in a person's back health, it is a fact that people of all sizes and lifestyles get back pain, and no one should blame their condition on themselves. Rather, patients should move forward in the positive direction, focusing on what they can do to relieve their pain, and to keep the stress associated with pain from affecting their rehabilitative programs and their lives.
If stress is affecting your life and health, you are going to have to find ways and activities that are able to relax you, and you are going to have to become aware of what causes your stress and what you can do to eliminate the stressor or change your reaction to it.
Up next, how to become aware of what causes your stress.