The Emotional Impact of Chronic Back Pain

Chronic Back Pain Stressed

Since the mind and body work together, it is no wonder that chronic back pain creates a number of unwanted emotions. Frustration, stress, resentment, anger, and despondency are just a few emotions that can become overwhelming. The combination of back pain and these emotions can impact relationships with family, friends, and co-workers, thereby creating a spiral that can intensify the negative physical and emotional effects.

For example, the pain—or the fear of pain—can lead to gradual disengagement from physical activity and social relationships. The stress this causes has very corrosive effects on both the mind and the body, leading to high blood pressure, increased heart rate, muscle tension, anxiety, loss of sleep, and the loss or exacerbation of appetite.

Depression can often result from this stress, which can worsen existing pains. Even mild depression can make it difficult to manage one’s back pain and stay physically and socially active. People with personal and/or family histories of depression are particularly vulnerable to depression emerging or intensifying alongside back pain.

  • When a person experiences back pain, he or she and his or her loved ones should pay attention to these signs of depression:
  • Frequent feelings of sadness, anger, worthlessness, or hopelessness
  • Less energy
  • Less interest in activities, or less pleasure from activities
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Decreased or increased appetite that causes major weight loss or weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts about death, suicide, or hurting yourself

If any of these signs manifest themselves, please contact a physician, licensed counselor or social worker, spiritual leader, or depression hotline immediately. It’s also a good idea to speak with a Beverly Hills spinal surgeon who can discuss treatment options and ultimately help you live a more comfortable life, reduce your fear of pain, improve supporting relationships, and develop a sense of freedom from your pain.

Additionally, if back pain was caused by a traumatic event like a car crash, sports injury, fall, surgery, or assault, post-traumatic stress may have developed. Back pain will often continue or be exacerbated by post-traumatic stress until such time as the underlying emotional trauma is identified and resolved.

If chronic back pain is significantly impacting your quality of life, schedule an in-person consultation with Dr. Hyun Bae, Medical Director of The Spine Institute in Los Angeles. In addition to minimally invasive spine surgery, Dr. Bae specializes in non-fusion spine treatments like coflex implants and Mobi-C disc replacement. Call us today at (310) 828-7757 for more information.