The Vault

One of the most common causes of disability in the US is low back pain. In fact, over 80% of people will experience some sort of back pain at some point in their lives. Disc injuries, sciatica, and improper lifting habits are some of the common reasons for low back pain.

Even if back pain is common, each person responds differently to it. This is mainly due to the fact that not everyone has the same psychological attitudes and outlooks. Understanding the psychological factors that impact our pain can help us decide what the best course of action is when it comes to treating back pain.

How back pain is connected to your brain 

We often experience psychological distress – and even more pain – when our usual physical movement becomes limited. Our personal health beliefs and coping strategies greatly influence how we handle distress. Therefore, if you’re anxiety-prone or tend to think catastrophically, the pain you feel may become worse. One reason for this is because our psychological vulnerabilities have the capacity to make us think the pain is much worse than it is. Our pre-existing psychological attitudes  can alter your brain’s chemistry, as well as your brain’s ability to control anxiety, emotion, and attention. This means that if you’re distressed, you become more anxious and tend to expect the worst. This leads to an inability to focus on anything else but the pain.

Your brain can become rewired by the pain when it impacts your brain circuits and the way you process emotions. This is the main reason why you can only focus on anxiety when experiencing back pain. And this is also the reason why it becomes more difficult to control your emotions.

Alleviating chronic back pain through psychology

There are psychological therapies that can help with back pain by altering your pain perception and addressing other psychological factors, such as anxiety and anticipation.

  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques involve activating your brain relaxation pathway by ignoring mental “chatter” and focusing on breathing.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy prevents acute injuries from worsening to chronic back pain by changing our patterns of thinking and behavior.
  • Hypnosis or inducing our state of consciousness can help you by allowing you to lose voluntary actions.

Several studies have shown that combining psychiatric medication with psychotherapy treatments are more effective with managing back pain than simply going through either treatment alone. There is power in changing our mindset, and employing brain-based changes can actually help lessen our pain.

Don’t hesitate to contact Spine Center of Texas if you want to learn more about how you can alleviate your back pain.

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