Stress-Related Back Pain
Today, most medical experts believe that there is a close association between stress and back pain. The majority of people understand that back pain is a condition that causes stress and related fearfulness when its effects cause us to lose our work productivity and ability to interact with others without being in discomfort. This type of pain may cause us to withdraw from the world, and to restrict our activities for fear of making the injury any worse. Doctors must understand the effects of back pain and how patients respond to them to turn around the condition that the patient is in.
When patients do experience pain, due to a physical injury, ruminating about the condition and committing to extended bed rest can negatively affect our bodies and our spirits in a number of ways. First, they cause our brains to be wired in such as way that the brain centers that interpret pain signals only receive one type of input. These same brain centers may receive other types of physical and emotional inputs, including ones for relaxation, serenity, comfort, and love. These inputs may help to dull or override the inputs to the pain signals coming in, resulting in an experience in which the pain is much more tolerable.
Today, patients and health professionals have taken to this belief that physical pain, caused by a real physical injury, may be minimized by treatments that address the stressors that are present in a patient's life. The stress may have been present before patient got injured or their body began to change. Or the patient may be in stress and a state of distress as an effect of the back pain a patient feels. Regardless of whatever caused the person's stress, there are various types of techniques aimed at lowering stress levels. Some treatments even combine stress-relieving treatments and exercise, such as Yoga, Tai Chi, and qigong. These three arts are sometimes referred to as moving meditation because it involves bringing patients into a state of spiritual harmony even as the exercises and movements strengthen the body and restore structural stability.
Other exercises for stress relief include walking, gardening, dancing, circuit training, and Pilates. All of the exercises that are mentioned in this article involve improving a person's posture, balance, and strengthening of the core muscles that support the spine. These exercises keep the body strong, and may be good alternatives for some people who hurt themselves doing more intense physical activities.
How does stress cause pain? Stress may have profound changes on the body, when it is particularly intense and long lasting. Stress may go so far as to change the circuitry of our brains and nervous system, and the way it responds to degenerative changes to the body and injuries. When we are stressed out, it causes increases in the activation of the sympathetic nervous system. These increases cause muscle spasms and the constriction of the blood vessels. Muscle spasms, and the lesser severe form of this condition - muscle tension, cause pain in part of the body that only begin to feel better when the tension finally loosens. Constriction of the blood vessels deprive the injured tissues of the body the blood and oxygen they need to repair the injured structures and replace injured cells with new healthy cells.
Stress-Related Back Pain: Thus far, we have made our case that stress can make injures or arthritis type changes to the body more painful if it is not controlled. We further presented a number of treatments for indirectly managing pain by controlling the stress that we feel, in the form of meditation -like exercises such as Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong.
The stress-related back pain concept takes things one step further - that our pain actually originates as a result of stress and depression, not from a physical injury. Many people, and their doctors, believe that the medical images depicting degenerative changes such as osteoarthritis and lumbar herniated discs are the cause of their pain. It is a logical assumption to make that arthritic changes in the part of the body that is hurting indicates that those changes are the cause of the person's pain. Physicians such as Dr. Sarno disagree. Dr. Sarno (MD) argues that all of us have degenerative disc disease and arthritis in our joints as we get older, but not all of us have chronic back pain.
If Dr. Sarno is right, what's the difference between people who have back pain and people that don't? Dr. Sarno believes that the causes of most cases are of stress related origins. He says that most people have back pain because of Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS). TMS theory states that psychological pain causes muscle tension, which causes pain.