STRESS-RELATED BACK PAIN
Stress affects the body in a variety of ways, from mood swings and headaches to weight fluctuations. Over time, repetitive bouts of stress can cause musculoskeletal issues in these regions of the body.
When we get stressed out, the body naturally releases certain hormones. Adrenaline is associated with the ancient “fight or flight” phenomenon that heightens our blood pressure, increases our blood supply, and causes the muscles around our spine to tense and spasm in case we need to flee the source of the stress. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone; it interferes with a variety of functions. Elevations in cortisol can lead to loss of muscle mass and increases in fat accumulation.
Back pain and stress:
We typically talk about back pain as mid-back and low-back pain. Over time, both affect your posture and the way you walk, which can lead to pain in the hips, knees, and feet.
Mid-back pain includes muscles that are affected by breathing, including the chest and shoulder muscles. When you’re stressed, your breathing patterns change and cause strain and tension in the mid-back. Your shoulders hunch up and cause pain throughout the upper and middle back.
Low-back pain includes the tailbone and lower half of the back muscles. These muscles affect flexibility and posture. Many people become more sedentary during periods of stress, which means they stretch and exercise less. For example, sitting at your desk for several hours a day when you’re swamped at work can strain the spine and low-back muscles.
Therefore, treatments for stress-related back pain require both physical and mental health care - which will be discussed in later articles. Besides, don’t forget that the Employee Assistance Program provides free support for both physical and mental health counseling needs. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our toll-free hotline whenever you need instant support from our professionals.