Most often than not, when you are stressed, you feel various physiologic reactions or symptoms and one of them is back pain. Most especially, when stress is related to work, back pain commonly emerges as a complaint. However, is there really a connection between stress and back pain? And how does stress lead to back pain?
Back pain related to stress is medically known as Tension Myositis Syndrome or TMS. It is most popularly known as stress-related back pain. Stress-related back pain is more of a psychosomatic illness in which physical symptoms are felt in response to emotional and mental problems or stress. Even if there are no physical pathology of the condition, people experiencing stress may still feel as if something is wrong with the back.
Tension Myositis Syndrome is actually synonymous in characteristics with spinal irritation and other spinal conditions that lead to back pain; however, there are really no problems in the physiology of the back that may lead to such complaints.
So how Does Stress leads to Back pains?
Stress may cause back pains through various mechanisms. Most often than not, these lead to physical symptoms of pain at the back that may be attributed to most back problems such as slipped disc, scoliosis and lumbar pains caused by spinal irritation.
Stress may lead to back pains because of the following mechanisms:
• Stress causes big and small muscles to tighten
Stress leads the body to produce certain hormones such as cortisol in response to the flight and fight response. These stress hormones usually tense the muscles, which leads to muscle spasms. When muscles go into spasms, it limits the flexibility of the muscle fibers that may cause back pains when someone tries to perform some activities involving the back. Through the muscle tightening alone, people who are stressed may feel a heavy feeling along the spine that may progress to back pains when stress is not managed early.
• Stress increases the perception of pain
Stress also lead to the increased perception of pain along the affected areas of the body. This is due to the release of various stress hormones that cause the nerves to be highly sensitive to any discomforts. For instance, a person who has been working in front of the computer may suddenly feel a heavy feeling because of the prolonged position. The increased perception of pain then makes the person feel back pains in lieu of this heavy feeling.
• Stress causes spinal nerve irritation
Muscle spasms from stress also further lead to the impediment of the nerves at the back. As a result, the slightest muscle tension or scar formation at the back may compress the spinal nerves leading to back pains. The most common areas of pain during stress are the thoracic and lumbar areas because of the compression of the nerve bundles in the area.
Stress-related back pain is a never ending cycle unless the source of stress is removed. Stress hormones lead to muscle tension that leads to back pain. On the other hand, pain may intensify the muscle tension leading to further back pains. In this line, stress-related back pains should be managed promptly not by physical treatments alone, but as well as emotional and psychological approaches.