The Connection Between Back Pain and Depression

Mattress Contributing to Back Pain in Santa Monica, CA

Anywhere from a quarter to half of the 30 million Americans experiencing a type of pain that can be considered chronic also have some level of depression. Not surprisingly, back pain, the most common medical complaint heard by spine surgeons in Beverly Hills, is often linked to depression experienced by patients living with persistent discomfort.

Disappointment Over Treatments Not Working

Some patients expect their doctor to recommend a treatment that’s going to automatically eliminate their pain. While some causes of back pain respond well to treatment, non-specific discomfort such as lower back pain is often difficult to manage. If pain becomes increasingly worse, patients may become depressed due to what they perceive as a diminished quality of life.

Aggravating Existing Back Pain Symptoms

Symptoms associated with back pain and depression are often overlapping. The effects of long-term depression, typically characterized as feeling of sadness and anxiety occurring daily for more than a few weeks, often result in habits that aren’t conducive to soothing back pain, including:

• Poor appetite and bad eating habits
• Increased fatigue and difficulty sleeping
• Persistent anxiety and stress

Increased Disability

Studies involving patients with chronic low back pain suggest depression is more prevalent among this group than within the general population. Research also suggests patients experiencing a combination of depression and chronic pain tend to have increased disability. Part of the reason for this may be that patients who are depressed about their condition are less likely to:

• Follow doctor recommendations
• Participate actively in physical therapy
• Report increased pain and discomfort

In many cases, it’s the chronic pain itself that causes patients to have difficulty finding a comfortable sleeping position or prevents them from participating in previously enjoyable activities. Decreased intimacy and an inability to work due to persistent pain associated with certain movements can also result in added stress or feelings of inadequacy.

Treating both depression and back pain can be tricky since medications have to be carefully balanced to avoid interactions and unintended side effects, which may include increased susceptibility to depression. For this reason, doctors often recommend both physical and psychological therapy for patients.

To learn more about your options for pain relief, including fusion, non-fusion, and other minimally invasive spine treatments, reach out to The Spine Institute Center at (310) 828-7757 and request an in-person consultation today.