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Can Stress Cause Back Pain?

When it comes to back pain, some causes seem pretty obvious. A fender bender can do a pretty good job of jolting you around, which makes the resulting whiplash an expected, if unpleasant, effect. Or maybe your kid is tackled during a football game; even with the pads, that contact can be enough to affect joint alignment and cause pain. It’s not all big hits either. Alignment issues can even be caused by something as innocuous as always carrying a purse or bag on the same shoulder.

You may have noticed that all the examples just given are physical causes of back pain. But did you know that back pain isn’t only caused by physical damage? It’s true. The body is incredibly complex and made up of several different interworking systems. It stands to reason that something affecting other systems in the body also has the potential to affect your nervous system and muscle groups. In broad terms, what this means is that it is possible to experience back pain, or pain elsewhere in the body, even if you didn’t experience some kind of physical force on your body recently.

Causes of Back Pain

To understand how non-physical forces can cause back pain, it’s important to understand the underlying causes of back pain to begin with. The nervous system is what allows us to feel everything from the softness of a blanket to the sharp sting of a papercut. The nervous system is also what allows us to feel internal issues that we may not be able to see, such as back pain. Physically speaking, back pain is the result of nerves in the back being pressed on by tight muscles or a misaligned joint. So if back pain is the response to a physical issue, how, then, do non-physical issues cause physical pain?

Back Pain and Stress

What many don’t understand is that, when it comes to stress, it’s not just in your head. For example, have you ever found yourself hunching or slouching when you feel overwhelmed? This is something many of us do, and it’s typically an instinctive shift in posture, not an intentional one. Stress is something that can radiate throughout the body; it’s not limited to just affecting the mind. When feeling stressed, a common and reflexive response is for muscles to tighten, especially in the neck, shoulders, and back. Over time, those tight muscles keep pressing, affecting a joint’s ability to move and limiting range of motion. Maybe a tight muscle presses into a nerve, or maybe it presses against a joint, causing the joint to become misaligned.

Back pain and stress can easily become an expanding cycle. Stress can lead to back pain, and experiencing chronic back pain can lead to stress about the pain, and on and on. If you have an injury or are trying to heal from surgery, stress about the healing process can actually impact your pain levels and potentially impact the healing process. A recent medical study shows the correlation between stress reduction and pain relief, which helps show that no, stress isn’t just in your head.

What You Can Do About It

When it comes to back pain, whether it’s caused by stress or other things, the best thing you can do is go to your local back pain specialist for personalized treatment — and no, we don’t mean a surgeon; we’re talking about your local chiropractor. Chiropractors specialize in caring for the spine, joints, and nervous system. In addition, they focus how those systems function within the body as a whole, so they are the care professionals best-suited to help with back pain.

Chiropractors use a combination of treatments, including spinal decompression therapy and spinal adjustments, to help restore joint misalignment and relieve back pain. Since chiropractic adjustments are all-natural, they work hand-in-hand with other modalities that can further help relieve pain and loosen tight or sore muscles. When appropriate, your chiropractor may suggest including massage therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture, and other treatment options to provide you with longer-lasting relief and to build up strength so the pain doesn’t return.

Start with a consultation so your local back pain specialist can build the appropriate treatment plan for you. Call Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa in Peoria to get started.

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