Stress Management for Back Pain: Relaxation Techniques

People with back pain often have to deal with more stress than the average person, either because stress is a contributing factor towards their cause of back pain, or because their back pain is affecting them emotionally. Stress can cause tension of the muscles of the back and neck, and this tension can cause you to experience stiffness and muscles spasms. Tension of the muscles and connective tissues of the back have been labeled by the visionary Dr. Sarno as something he calls "Tension Myositis Syndrome. " or TMS. One of the theories about TMS is that the cause of the majority of back pain cases is not structural problems such as degenerative disc disease or nerve root impingement, but stress-related pain that can be treated successfully by stress management techniques. Though TMS as the cause of the great majority of back pain cases has not been adopted by the majority of the medical community, it does make you want to look closer to the relationship between pain and how we feel emotionally. Take patients with back pain, for example. Doctors have been confounded since the invention of the X-Ray machine as to how often the health of the patient's back has not corresponded with the way the patients feel. In other words, doctors have been confounded as to how often they see X-rays of healthy spines despite the patients experiencing feel significant pain, and how often they see spines that show degenerative disc disease and feel little back pain. Some theorize that patient may experience back pain due to compression of the smaller nerves that don't show up on an X-Ray. Others theorize stress to be the number one cause of back pain, as is promoted by doctors such as John Sarno, M.D.



Patients with back pain syndromes with associates stress or depression may experience the benefits of various relaxation techniques for stress management. Relaxation techniques may help you deal more calmly and effectively with life's stresses. Listed below are some techniques that may help to get you into a relaxed and calm place.

Deep breathing: As we begin or continue to experience pain and anxiety, or muscles may begin to constrict, and our blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate may begin to go up. These increases in some of our body's autonomic functions can cause us to feel more anxiety. To lower our stress levels, we may concentrate on deep breathing in times of emotional stress, or when we have free time during the day or night. To practice deep breathing, sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor and your arms at your sides. You may then alternate between taking deep breaths in and out, while reciting calming thoughts and phrases such as "I am" and "relaxed". Someone could take a deep breath in, saying "everything is going to be" and then slowly take a deep breath out saying, "OK."

Distraction: Sometimes is the pain is extreme enough, or if you have had it long enough, the pain may take hold of your thoughts to the point that it's the only thing that you think about. Distraction involves training your mind to focus on something other than your stress or the sources of your stress. If you have events coming up in the course of your day or week that you know will be stressful, mentally brace yourself for how you will deal with these events so that they don't overly affect you.