What to Know About Back Pain and Stress - Family Practice McAllen
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What to Know About Back Pain and Stress

What to Know About Back Pain and Stress

Stress impacts the body in a number of ways, from mood swings and headaches to weight fluctuations, and in the last few months, there is no question that national and global events have inflicted stress on most.

Unfortunately, an overlooked side effect of stress is back pain. Over time, the buildup of that stress may lead to musculoskeletal problems in various areas of the body.

The good news is that your friendly McAllen chiropractors at Hendrick Wellness Center are here to help you understand what there is to know about back pain and stress, as well as ways to improve your health. 

How Stress Affects the Body 

When under a lot of stress, the body naturally releases specific hormones. 

Adrenaline is associated with the fight or flight phenomenon, which raises our blood pressure and blood supply and causes the muscles surrounding our spine to tense up. 

Cortisol is referred to as the stress hormone and can interfere with several bodily functions. Elevations in cortisol can also cause loss of muscle mass and an increase in fat accumulation.

Interestingly, data suggests that adults are aware of the effect stress has on their spines. Online survey applicants ranked the top perceived causes of back pain and the numbers are as follows: 

  • Stress: 29%
  • Lack of adequate exercise/weak muscles: 26%
  • Physical work: 26%
  • Overweight: 25%
  • Spinal disc herniation: 21%
  • Sitting at a desk at work: 20%

While it’s unrealistic to possibly rid yourself of all the stressors in life, there are steps we can take to reduce stress and alleviate back pain symptoms. 

The Relationship between Back Pain and Stress

We generally refer to back pain as mid-back and low-back pain. Over time, both affect your posture and the way you walk, which can result in pain in the hips, knees, and feet. 

Mid-back pain has to do with the muscles affected by breathing, including the chest and shoulder muscles. When you’re stressed, your breathing patterns change, causing strain and tension in your mid-back. Your shoulders then hunch up and induce pain throughout the upper and middle back.

Low-back pain involves the tailbone and lower half of the back muscles. These muscles affect flexibility and posture. If you’re sitting at your desk at work or home for numerous hours a day, the combination of that and stress can strain the spine and low-back muscles.

As if stress isn’t enough, other common causes of spine pain include obesity, poor workstation ergonomics, and lack of exercise.

Options for Stress-Related Back Pain Relief

While it’s impossible for an adult to live their life 100% free of stress or pain, there are methods to reduce discomfort and feel less tense. 

An effective method to relieve stress and back pain is exercising and stretching more. Physical activity lets out endorphins and improves overall health, which can diminish stress levels. Whether you’re working in the office or working from home, take some time to exercise – and try a standing desk. 

You can also try doing yoga as this can improve your posture, alignment, flexibility, and well-being. 

Eating a well-balanced diet is another great way to reduce stress. Choosing to eat health-consciously will benefit your general health in the long term and leave you with more energy. Healthy eating is also key to losing weight, and maintaining a healthy weight takes away the pressure located in your spine and helps improve your posture.

As challenging as it may seem in these trying times, we cannot stress enough the importance of devoting time and energy to relax. Soon enough, work, family, and social commitments will start to take up your time again, so enjoy this unexpected opportunity to read your favorite book, spend time with your loved ones, or practice some mindfulness or meditation.

We would also like to note that if you resort to unhealthy alternatives (e.g. drinking or smoking) to manage back pain and/or stress, doing so can actually cause you more stress over the long-term.

Instead, consider seeing our chiropractic professionals for a healthier, more promising pain relief plan. 

We hope by trying these methods, you can find relief from your back pain and stress. At the Hendrick Wellness Center, your safety, as well as your physical and mental well-being, comes first. If you have any chiropractic needs or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.


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