Stress isn’t something you simply feel emotionally. Stress has definitive physical manifestations as well. Back pain and neck pain, in particular, are both associated with stress. Why does stress lead to an aching back and stiff neck? Doctors aren’t sure about the precise reasons why stress causes physical symptoms, but there some clues to help explain the relationship. Consider these links between stress and back pain:
When you’re stressed, you have a tendency to tense your muscles. You may not even realize that you’re doing it, but chances are that if you’re coping with stress, you’re squeezing your muscles. Your back muscles and neck muscles tend to take the brunt of most of this tension. When you tighten your muscles and hold them that way for an extended period, carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and other muscle waste chemicals build up, causing inflammation and pain. The tension also increases your nerve activity, which makes your back muscles more sensitive.
Your brain may also play a role in the back pain you feel when you’re stressed. Under normal conditions, your brain’s pain receptors release chemicals to control pain sensations. When you’re feeling stressed, your brain is distracted by trying to cope with the strain of that stress. This activity may lower your brain’s ability to control the pain you’re feeling, making your pain more noticeable during stressful times.
Learning stress-coping mechanisms and reducing the stress in your life can help you cope with stress-induced back pain. However, these techniques may not be enough to alleviate your pain. A back specialist, such as a physical therapist who deals with back and neck pain, can offer treatments to help you manage or eliminate your pain.
At SpineOne, our back specialists can help you overcome stress-related back and neck pain, as well as a number of other spinal issues. We offer non-invasive treatments with quick recovery times and fast results. Call us today at (303) 367-2225 and let us help you get past your back pain.