Stress and Back Pain – Are They Related?


Stress is bad for our general wellbeing, but could it also be a culprit when it comes to back pain? Can stress and back pain be closely related? An American study shows that stress can indeed play a significant role in back problems, especially for introverted people.

Stress-Related Back Pain Put to Test

Back pain from stress and anxiety is not something you would think about when you notice that your back is aching. However, nervous tension has been long suspected as a cause of back pain. Is it because stressed and anxious people are more polarized about their symptoms, or is it because their nervousness leads to the misuse of muscles to the point that causes pain and contractions?

A highly original study published in the Spine medical journal by researchers at the University of Ohio mentions that the second hypothesis is indeed true, and suggests certain temperaments are much more prone to this kind of pathology. The authors of the study selected a group of 25 students and asked them to lift a load of about 6 pounds at a given rate after they had their main personality traits assessed. The students wore a lumbar belt with electrodes so the researchers could observe the muscles involved the exercise.

Surprising Results

During the first part of the experiment, all students were made to feel at ease, as they could listen to their favorite music and they were encouraged from the side, receiving compliments and motivating remarks. In the second part, the atmosphere was less pleasant, as the researchers complained about their performance and reprimanded the students.

When the results arrived, it was clear that the character of the students was playing a major part in the back pain they experienced. The relationship between emotional stress and back pain was demonstrated by the way introverts contracted muscles that lead to long-term low back pain in an amount almost double than the extroverts.

Four Out of Five Workers Suffer from Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common causes of work-related issues. According to a recent survey from the UK, four out of five workers experience lumbar pain, although only a small minority cease working because of this. Heavy loads and spending too much time on feet are of course the main reason for back pain, and nurses, paramedics, and domestic workers are particularly at risk.

However, the results gathered by the team of researchers in Ohio indicates that poor working conditions and stress can contribute significantly to the development of chronic back pain, especially for those who are used to keeping their frustrations to themselves.

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