Stress and Low Back Pain

Here is an interesting article that helps explain why a holistic wellness approach to health issues such as low back pain is so important and effective –

Physical and Emotional Sources of Low Back Pain
By Jennifer J. Butler

Do you have low back pain? Does it hurt on your lower back when you get up, sit down, twist or even move in the middle? If you are suffering from low back pain, you probably have some degree of discomfort, from mild to severe, when you shift your body in some way that involves your lower back. With all of the bones, joints, ligaments, discs, nerves and muscles of our back, it is possible to suffer from many different reasons. There are several sources of low back pain, but also physical and emotional treatment modalities to make the pain subside or go away completely. Yes, there is healing for low back pain, in the form of conservative, non-invasive treatments.

Physical Sources

Almost all low back pain begins with stress or strain to the muscles. This can be caused by overworking it around the house, or during athletic or other heavy back movement activity. In addition, when your back muscles are tight, weak or out of balance, sometimes the slightest irritation will cause a great deal of aggravation. This may occur in the form of a harsh sneeze, bending over to pick up something, or a quick turn to respond to someone calling to you. There are exceptions of course, for example, when a person has been in an accident or had a serious fall. But underlying all that is the source of the pain, which are the muscles. The muscles are directly connected to the nerves that send pain messages to the brain.

Complicating the muscle pain is the issue of emotional trauma or stress. When a person is under duress, muscles will tighten and when contracted for too long, become stiff and uncomfortable, leading to pain.

There are also structural defects to the spine which may be causing pain. A back disc, which is the cushion between each vertebrae on the spine, can be ruptured and that places pressure on the nearby spinal nerves. This type of damage can occur in a patient as early as the age of 20. Spinal stenosis, which happens in older patients, is the compression, or narrowing of the spinal canal typically due to osteoarthritis or a congenital defect. There is also degenerative joint and disc diseases which when not treated, will only become more challenging to correct.

Emotional Sources

Unfortunately for humans, when a person is stressed, their muscles automatically tense up, as if for preparing for a fight. If a person has had an injury to their low back, these tightened muscles only agitate the low back pain. And even without a previous injury, a stiff, tensed up back could be compared to a dry twig instead of a leafy branch. With a slight provocation, it is apt to “snap” and cause low back pain. Stress comes from many sources and in many forms, relating to work, family and many other issues. If you have trouble sleeping or concentrating AND low back pain, the pain is probably stress-related.

Physical Treatment

The actual physical source of back pain can be difficult to diagnose directly to the source in some patients. A specific injury that you may or may not remember may have started the process. Sometimes the lower back will try to overcompensate for the injury, causing yet another problem. Add to that the stress of everyday life and you may have low back pain that may become chronic, lasting more than three months.

An orthopedic or pain management specialist can help diagnose the source of the pain and prescribe specific exercises, stretching or massage that will relieve pain and heal the low back pain over time.

Emotional Treatment

When a person is suffering from low back pain, it is best to treat the whole person, not just the back. There is certainly a connection between the mind and the body when a person is in consistent pain. Sometimes the tension in our back that makes our muscles contract and give lower back pain is caused by stress, worry and even anger.

Combined Relief

For a low back pain treatment analogy here, when you are diagnosed with strep throat, it is because a particular bacterium is found and so you are given specific antibiotics to treat it, as well as rest and plenty of liquids. In the same way, if you have low back pain, is could be a result of stress in your life as well as a disc or muscle problem. This must be treated from the perspective of the muscles of the back as well as the emotional point of view. This treatment strategy includes both the emotional and the physical structure of the back, and a scientific way of looking at both. An exceptional health care provider will ask questions about your lifestyle and current stress levels to see if your low back pain is related to your emotional state. If it appears that therapy would assist in treatment, he or she can refer you to a counselor to treat both sides of the problem.

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