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Is Stress Causing Your Lower Back Pain?

Posted by John Johnson on

Is Stress Causing Your Lower Back Pain?


Lower back pain is probably one of the most commonly complained conditions. It can seriously affect your daily life, from causing you to miss work to losing sleep, back pain is indeed very troublesome. Most of the time, identifying the cause of the pain can be frustrating. Is it because of a pulled muscle? An injury or strain? Or is stress causing your lower back pain?  

Lower back pain is the 2nd most common reason for impairment in adults in the US. Approximately 15% to 20% of adults will experience back pain in a single year and over 80% will suffer from it at least once in their lifetime. 

 Back Pain -Stress 01


What causes the pain?  

There are so many reasons why your back hurts. Some are obvious like an injury or trauma but most of the time the pain is caused by something else. Back pain is commonly caused by the following:  

  • Injury
  • Lifting heavy things
  • Muscle tension
  • Ligament strain
  • Muscle strain
  • Bulging disc
  • Herniated disc
  • Ruptured disc
  • Arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Osteoporosis 

If you’ve ruled out any of the causes above then there’s a great chance that your back pain is caused by stress. 

 Back Pain -Stress 02


How can stress cause back pain?

You might find it hard to believe but emotional or psychological anxiety may be causing the back pain you are experiencing.  

There are a number of physical conditions that have been known to be caused by  stress such as: 

  • Headache
  • Digestive problems
  • Fatigue 
  • Insomnia
  • Chest pain  

Stress happens when you are unable to handle emotional or mental pressure and your body reacts by releasing certain hormones that will help your body deal with stressful situations. These are cortisol and adrenaline. Once these hormones are released, the muscles usually tighten involuntarily. This frequently takes place in the neck, along the shoulders, and down to the spine. If this goes on continuously for a long period of time, this could lead to back pain which can become chronic eventually.  

Back Pain -Stress 03

When this happens and the stressors are not addressed, it will trigger a pain cycle that gets worse as time goes by. This progression of pain is characterized by the following: 

  • Due to the fear of pain, physical and leisure activities become limited. 
  • Since movements are limited, muscle weakening and physical de-conditioning occur. 
  • This leads to the worsening of the pain.  

Until the stressors are managed, this pain cycle will go on and on causing more fear, more muscle atrophy, and more pain.  

People who are perfectionists, extreme self-critics, fiercely success-driven, intensely competitive, and compulsive are most likely to experience back pain caused by stress. 


Stress-caused back pain may include the following symptoms: 

  • Neck pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Weak muscles
  • Fatigue 
  • Sleep disorder
  • Back pain 

 Back Pain -Stress 04

How to ease back?  

To relieve back pain, you must first identify what’s causing it. For general pain, over-the-counter medicines, topical pain relievers, heat and ice packs will help. Warm baths and massages can also help alleviate the pain.   

For back pain caused by serious medical conditions, immediate professional help is needed. 


How to prevent back pain?  

Be pain-free and avoid having back pain in the future by following these tips: 

You might also be interested to read Diabetes: Types, Causes, Treatments and 8 Ways to Boost Chi for Better Health.

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