We’re only just beginning to understand how stress affects the body. We cover some of the most frequently-asked questions when it comes to pain and stress, such as “can stress cause back pain?” and “what are the best stress management techniques?” in this post.
What is stress?
Have you ever prepared to speak to a group of people and felt that it was difficult to breathe? Maybe your stomach felt upset or your heart pounded. These are typical reactions to stress and the body’s corresponding flight-or-flight response.
When faced with a potentially dangerous situation or one that causes fear, all of the body’s defense mechanisms gear up for battle. The brain tells the adrenal glands to produce hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, that rev up the body’s systems. The lungs take in additional oxygen. That’s why your heart races—beating up to five times more quickly than normal—and breathing quickens.
An elevated heart rate results in increased blood pressure as the heart pounds more blood through the body. Stored fat releases into the bloodstream to provide additional energy.After an acute threat—the public speech, car accident, or other passing incident—your body’s response systems will subside, eventually returning to normal. Most stress is good — truly, we need it to survive!
However, long-term stress can create a host of negative health impacts, ranging from:
- Overall bodily pain
- Increased inflammation
- Sleep problems
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Back pain
These health issues often lead to subsequent health problems, making unmanaged stress a top health concern for many people.
Can stress cause back pain?
It may not cause it directly, but the two are related for many. People experiencing chronic stress may actually suffer from more severe or constant headaches, stomachaches, or back pain because of it.
The same muscles that tighten during the stress response, to help the body run or jump to safety, can never relax when constantly clenched. People hold tension in different parts of the body, including the: