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Unveiling the Link Between Lower Back Pain and Stress

A man holding his lower back with severe pain in a highlighted area due to stress.
Published by Dr. Umesh Srikantha on June 14, 2024

Lower back pain is almost as prevalent as the common cold. Regardless of age, gender, or lifestyle, this pervasive issue tightens people's grip, causing major disruptions to their daily routines and turning even the most routine tasks into monumental challenges. Studies reveal that 23% of adults experience this exhausting pain.

Unfortunately, few people are unaware of the actual causes of  low back pain. We blithely blame a strained muscle or displaced vertebral disc.

However, studies have shown that the actual culprit triggering your lower back pain could be stress or various psycho-emotional stressors. Our article aims to illuminate details about lower back pain caused by stress and the possible treatment options and diagnostic measures for finding sustained relief from symptoms.

Lower Back Pain - A Quick Overview

Lower back pain is predominantly restricted to the lumbar region or the lower portion of the spine. It can be dull and nagging or sharp and intense, accompanied by stiffness in the back. Sometimes, you may experience spasms in the lower back radiating to your buttocks or legs.

Lower Back Pain Caused by Stress - What is the Connection?

The term “stress” is in it for all the wrong reasons. Although it plays a subtle role in helping you think on your toes, complete tasks, and feel more energised, stress is largely unfavourable.

Basically, stress is your body’s natural response to challenging situations that prevent you from controlling or managing the circumstances.

Whether mild or severe, stress can severely impact your mind and body. It triggers the release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, leading to muscular tension and physical pain. This vicious cycle triggered by chronic stress can sometimes target your lower back, resulting in nagging or debilitating pain.

The most challenging aspect of stress-induced lower back pain is the anxiety and stress that it causes, leading to a vicious cycle that eventually weakens your immune system.

This unhealthy chain of events triggered by psycho-emotional stressors renders your body too weak to fight off inflammation and physical discomfort.

Exploring Psycho-Emotional Stressors: the Culprits of Back Pain

Psycho-emotional stressors are factors impacting your mental well-being and leading to the development or exacerbation of lower back pain.

The list of pain-inducing stressors includes:

  • Anxiety- A constant fear and worry about the future that triggers physical tension, leading to pain.
  • Traumatic life events- Personal financial loss, the death of a loved person, loss of livelihood, or unforeseen migration are events that can trigger extreme stress and physical tension.
  • Work-related stress- prolonged work hours, lack of adequate workplace support, simmering tension with colleagues, ono-conducive working conditions, remuneration issues, etc can cause immense mental and physical stress.
  • Personal relationship issues- Continuous family issues, never-ending altercations with your spouse, isolation and loneliness can trigger stress-related back pain.
  • Depression- Mild and temporary episodes of depression can cause physical tension. In the course of time, it can reduce your ability to make lifestyle modifications to minimise pain.

Apart from stress, several glaring reasons contribute to lower back pain, which we shall explore in the next section.

Top 5 Factors Causing Stress - Induced Lower Back Pain

 

1. Poor Body Posture

One of the primary causes of back pain is poor posture while sitting, standing, bending, or lying down. Slouching over the desk, slumping in your chair, etc., causes uneven weight distribution, eventually stressing the lower back muscles.

2. Chronic orthopaedic issues

Arthritis causes joint inflammation and can result in lower back pain. It also affects the joints in the lower back, causing discomfort and stiffness. Treatment options include medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes to manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

3. Degenerative Disc Disease

As you age, your spinal cord’s strength deteriorates, leading to various issues like constant discomfort, radiating pain, and loss of flexibility. These issues can also result in lower back pain.

4. Herniated Disc

Sometimes, events like a traumatic fall, a blow to the back, or strain while carrying heavy loads can cause a herniated disc. In this condition, the gelatinous disc material bulges out, causing leg pain, numbness, and muscle weakness.

5. Improper lifting techniques

Most often, people make the mistake of lifting heavy objects incorrectly. Using the back muscle instead of the thigh and leg muscle can put immense strain on the back, leading to acute pain and spinal injuries.

Read More About Essential Ways to Avoid Back Pain for a Stronger Spine

Techniques to Manage Stress & Prevent Back Pain

The best way to protect your lumbar region from any factor leading to pain is to seek medical attention when the issue is small. You can also follow these techniques to protect your back and prevent the problem from worsening:

  • Physiotherapy & exercise

Regular physical activity and physical therapy can alleviate muscle tension and bolster the muscles in the lower back, decreasing the likelihood of pain and injury. Engaging in consistent exercise can also assist in controlling stress levels and enhancing overall health and well-being.

  • Meditation

Meditation and mindfulness can help calm your nerves and sharpen your ability to handle challenging situations. These practices are ideal for boosting your overall mental health, relaxing your stressed mind, and thereby preventing unnecessary strain on your back muscles.

Early diagnosis will help identify if your pain is trauma or stress-induced. It will help you get timely care either at home or with your doctor. However, you must consult an orthospecialist if your lower back pain is unbearable.

When is the Right Time to Seek Medical Help For Lower Back Pain

It is always better to be safe than be sorry, especially for medical issues. Regardless of the severity of your pain, you should seek professional help if:

  • Your pain persists for several days
  • You experience numbness or muscle weakness
  • You have bowel and bladder control issues

These symptoms may signal an underlying condition requiring immediate medical intervention, such as spinal infection, herniated disc or injury to the spinal cord.

Consulting a best spine surgeon benefits you in several ways. It helps in:

  • Early and accurate diagnosis is needed to determine the cause and start a targeted treatment plan.
  • Perusing various surgical, non-surgical, physiotherapy, and medication treatment options to promote optimum healing.
  • Addressing underlying conditions like poor posture and guide you with preventive measures like exercises.

Quick Home Remedies to Alleviate Back Pain

When it comes to any medical issue, it is best to consult your doctor. Lower back pain is no exception to this rule. However, if the pain is bearable, you can try the following remedies at home:

  • To minimise swelling and pain, apply cold or hot compression for 15 minutes at least 3-4 times per day over the affected area. After the initial few days, you can also use a heating pad.
  • Take warm showers to help your muscles relax.
  • Get massage therapy ONLY from a certified and experienced professional.

Protect Your Spinal Health With Guidance From Spine 360

Lower back pain is one of the most preventable ortho issues, provided you diagnose the right cause and get the correct care to alleviate your problem.

Stress-induced lower back pain is also curable with timely medical help, depending on the severity of your issue. For outstanding care and relief from the stressors responsible for your back pain, schedule a visit to your spine specialist hospital in Bangalore.

Spine 360 has some of the best spine specialists available for world-class care. Contact us for an appointment.

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