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How Does Stress Affect My Body

How does psychological stress affect my lower back?

Over at Lakeside Chiropractic Joondalup we see many factors that can contribute to your back pain for instance- a history of sports injury, muscle or ligamentous strain, herniated disc, bulging disc, osteoarthritis and many more types of musculoskeletal complaint. But it is often those “harmless” activities we do that may cause strains to your spine like repetitive lifting or heavy lifting. However if none of the listed above is the contributing factor, your back pain may be the result of something else. Though it might seem hard to believe but psychological stress can have a significant impact on back pain. There are studies proven the association between stress and anxiety with low back pain.

How does psychological stress cause back pain?

Stress itself is the body’s reaction to certain situations or thoughts. You may not realize it, but when you are feeling stressed or anxious, there are chemical and physical reactions taking place in your body to try and protect you from harm. Say for example cortisol and adrenaline, both of these chemicals are released and there is typically an involuntary tightening of your muscles. This often occurs in the neck, shoulders, and down the spine. Prolonged tension in these areas can lead to back pain and, more specifically, lower back pain. You may have had a massage therapist tell you that you hold a lot of tension in your shoulders, and this phenomenon is what they are referencing to.

Our body usually interpret those stressful emotions as a physical response which causes our heart to beat faster. This causes the blood pressure in our body to rise, and release hormone that are suited for fight or flight response mechanism. The back muscle especially, including arms, and legs, also respond to this body wide alert by tensing in preparation for quick movement. Once the stress passes, these physical reactions level off and return to normal. Unfortunately, many people experience ongoing stress that are related to work, relationship and some other factor that contributing to their stress.

Chronic stress can keep your muscles persistently tense and tight which eventually causes pain. Tension-type headaches often linked to stress-related muscle strain in the neck and upper back. Lower back pain is often related to psychological stress. Sometimes even the anxiety from an injury can lead to muscle tightness that results in discomfort. Many of the chronic pain patients that we see at Lakeside Chiropractic Joondalup experienced moderate to severe levels of stress daily at work or home.

Anxiety Back Pain

Anxiety back pain symptoms can affect one area of the back only, the pain might refer to another area of your back muscle or even all parts of the back muscle like the upper back, middle back, or lower back muscles. Back pain symptoms can occur rarely, frequently, or persistently. For example, if you have back pain symptoms all the time or sometimes on and off occasionally. Anxiety back pain symptoms can precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety symptoms or occur by themselves. They can also precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and stress, or occur suddenly and for no apparent reason. It can range in different intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. They can also come in waves when they are intense one moment and ease off the next. Back pain anxiety symptoms can change from day to day and from moment to moment. Chiropractic treatments may alleviate the tightness and pain that the anxiety comes from.

Common anxiety back pain symptom description.

  • Frequent back pain and stiffness
  • Difficulty in mobility
  • Back feels sore even after doing normal tasks
  • Disruption in your sleep
  • Sudden sharp and shooting back pain
  • Often have burning sensation back pain
  • Back muscles frequently spasm for no reason.
  • Gentle movement like slight bending over or twisting
  • This symptom can also be experienced as a “pressure” anywhere on or in the back.

How can I prevent back pain in the future?

Lifestyle modifications can be done to prevent back pain from occurring in the future.

  • Increase your sleep quality
    Sleep with your spine in a neutral position (never sleep on your stomach/tummy) might be a good start for everyone. Using the correct pillow that are suitable for your neck is essential and the type of mattress you use to sleep determine your spine posture in a long term.

The white (soft) Complete Sleeper Pillow available in the clinic for $95.

  • Stretching regularly
    Stretching is also a good form of exercise to maintain your body posture. If you don’t have much time to perform stretching during the day, try doing it either after waking up before leaving your bed or before going to sleep. Consult your chiropractor at Lakeside Chiropractic to assist you by giving you a good stretching program.

The Schiller Technique booklet is available on our website under ‘Exercises’ or hard copies are in the clinic for $7.50.

  • Regular chiropractic treatments
    Having regular chiropractic treatment at Lakeside Chiropractic Clinic in Joondalup can assist in keeping your body in a relaxed state by lowering pain levels and increasing your range of motion which helps you to keep you in optimum function.
  • Take supplements
    Reduce your stress level or reducing the triggers for stress may also help you to prevent the pain to occur in the future. Try supplements such as magnesium to help relief muscle tension. If the complaint is worsening consult our chiropractors or massage therapist for assistance in this matter.

Our supplements available in the clinic from doTERRA to Metagenix, we have something for you!

If you have any further questions or would like to book an appointment, give us a call on 9300 0095 or head to our website to book at

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May 09, 2023