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Back Pain, Stress, & COVID-19

Written by Goodpath Medical Team

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased stress for many people. Ever-changing information around the spread of the virus, sustained social distancing, and economic concerns are just a few of the consequences that may heighten stress levels.  

While managing stress is important for everyone, if you are managing back pain you need to be extra vigilant about your stress level and how it impacts your condition. There are methods by which an individual with back pain can manage their stress in order to manage their pain and make a positive outcome more likely. 

Stress, Back Pain and Integrative Care

Research has indicated that psychological stress in addition to physical stress can negatively impact individuals experiencing back pain. Integrative care, which is the type of care Goodpath offers, emphasizes the full range of physical, emotional, and environmental influences on back pain. Stress is a powerful negative emotional influence on your back pain and needs to be addressed.

Methods to Cope with Stress and Back Pain

There are a variety of solutions that can be utilized by individuals with back pain to reduce their stress levels and alleviate their back pain that medical research has proven effective. “In fact, 4 of the 8 non-pharmacologic treatments recommended for persistent back pain include “mind-body” components,” according to the NIH.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT has been shown to be effective in reducing stress and helping individuals with back pain and is recommended by the VA for back pain.  CBT for pain involves identifying and changing cognitions and behaviors that perpetuate pain as well as using relaxation and exposure techniques to reduce symptom-related distress. 

  • Mindful Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): MBSR has been shown to be an effective treatment for lower back pain.  MBSR is an multi-week program that combines mindfulness meditation, body awareness, yoga, and other techniques to increase mindfulness and allow individuals to better handle stress. Goodpath back pain programs recommend elements of the MBSR approach when appropriate.

  • Yoga for Stress & Anxiety Reduction: Practicing yoga has many positive mind/body effects. It helps keep the muscles and joints flexible and strong. And, it helps calm the mind; it increases relaxation and decreases stress. It is an important tool for combating stress and the impact stress can have on back pain. 

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation Meditation: Relaxation techniques, in general, are believed to decrease central nervous system activity. Progressive muscle relaxation meditation helps to reduce anxiety, tension and pain. It has been applied as a method to promote relaxation since it was developed in the 1920s by a U.S. doctor, Edmund Jacobson.

  • Journaling: Research showed an increased understanding of chronic pain and ways to deal with it in patients that have employed journaling as a solution. In addition, there are studies that show that journaling and writing may also improve mood, decrease anxiety, and even quicken healing.

It may take some time for the full picture of the COVID-19 pandemic to fully come into focus and stress related to the virus is likely to remain high for the time being. But it isn’t too soon to take proactive steps to manage your stress and back pain.  

Take the Goodpath Back Pain assessment if you want to know what program we recommend for you.