Back pain is unique because two people can have the same physical source of discomfort, such as a herniated disc, and still report very different symptoms. Part of the reason for this variance is the way the brain interprets pain. Other contributing factors include the level of stress and anxiety a person is experiencing. Numerous studies suggest certain ways of thinking can lead to a heightened sense of pain. Fortunately, there are positive ways you can use the power of your brain to relieve or better manage your back pain.
Relaxing doesn’t mean staying in bed for weeks at a time or vegging out in front of the TV. Relaxation that’s healthy and likely to ease back pain involves achieving a mental sense of calmness. There are many techniques that can enhance concentration, relax tense spine-supporting muscles, and shift mental focus. Options include:
Whether it’s work or daily family issues, there are many things you’re likely to worry about at any given moment. However, when your worries revolve around your back pain, it could become a constant source of stress. If your concerns include irrational fears that cause you to not be active or avoid going about your daily routines, you’ll only be making your back pain worse. Decreasing your worries may involve:
Suppressing emotions related to your back pain or other daily stresses doesn’t make those feelings go away. Instead, it creates added stress, anxiety, and tension, which can make back pain worse. Instead, find an outlet for your emotions by:
The simple act of laughing at a funny movie, video, joke, or situation can do more than take your mind off your pain. Laughing can also trigger the release of endorphins, which are the body’s “feel-good” hormones that produce effects similar to what’s experienced with some pain-relieving medications.
Studies have linked instances of previous psychological trauma to chronic pain and illness. A common example is the PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) typically associated with military personnel who have returned home. This same concept can apply to people with chronic back pain. If you’ve experienced serious trauma in your life, possible treatments include:
While any of these suggestions may help you manage back pain in a more productive way, it’s equally important to receive an accurate diagnosis of the likely cause of your discomfort. Some patients with persistent back pain also find relief by making changes to their diet and participating in exercises tailored to their capabilities. A Santa Monica spine surgeon can offer more recommendations specific to your needs and goals.
If your chronic back pain has become too difficult to manage, schedule an appointment with a trusted back surgeon to find out if you might need minimally invasive back surgery. Santa Monica residents can call The Spine Institute at 310-828-7757 today and take the first steps toward living a pain-free life.