Psychological Side Effects of Back Pain

The psychological side effects of back pain don’t always get as much attention as the immediate physical causes associated with most forms of back pain. As an experienced Los Angeles spine surgery center, we know that emotional issues associated with back pain are common and have a direct impact on healing, recovery, and the overall ability for individuals to lead a productive personal and professional life.

Interpretation and Perception of Pain

The main psychological side effect of pain is the way in which somebody with back pain interprets and perceives their pain. For instance, an individual with a pessimistic attitude who perceives their pain as something that’s not going to go away is more likely to report continued symptoms.

Irrational Fears and Stress

While it’s important to take precautions with back pain, irrational fears can result in overcautious behavior, such as withdrawing from previously enjoyable activities and not performing recommended physical therapy exercises. Consequently, a lack of exercise or significant movement may result in muscle deterioration, effectively confirming irrational fears, at least for that individual. Chronic back pain with no verifiable physical cause may also be related to stress, a psychological side effect that can be aggravated by concerns over how pain is affecting – or will affect – a person’s home and work life.

Reaction to Others

Studies suggest that individuals with back pain tend to exhibit psychological reactions based on how others around them react to their reports of pain. For instance, if a person is “babied” by loved ones who do everything for them and reinforce their belief that their pain is bad, they may regress and become more dependent on those individuals. Conversely, if loved ones and friends challenge the validity of their pain, they may become angry and defensive.

Finding Support

The American Chronic Pain Association provides further access to resources available to help individuals with back pain and their loved ones deal with both the physical and psychological effects of back pain. Primary care physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists and psychologists (who often employ techniques like talk therapy, relaxation training and stress management) can also be valuable sources of information and support.

If you or someone you love is living with severe back pain, it may be time to consult with one of the board-certified spine physicians at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. We’ll help diagnosis the cause of the pain and provide viable treatment options. Call (310) 828-7757 and request an in-person consultation today.