Health

Back pain: The often overlooked and lesser-known factor that may be making your pain worse

Back pain is a common condition in the UK, with around one in three people being affected by the painful condition. It usually affects the lower back with the pain subsiding within four to six weeks. An overlooked symptom could be preventing you from making a full recovery. Experts state if some people are able to get over the emotional aspect of the pain, symptoms may decrease. How?

According to Bupa, emotional factors that can increase the risk of a person's back pain becoming chronic include:

Believing that pain and activity are harmful. These may be a person's own beliefs, but they can be reinforced by family members who may be trying to protect them.Negative actions can reinforce the belief that a person is unwell – for example, staying in bed for a long time.Having a low or negative mood, depression, anxiety or stress.Having low expectations of how well treatment will work.Relying too much on passive treatments (ones that don't expect a person to do anything) such as painkillers, hot and cold packs, massage and electrotherapy.

The health body added: "Although you may think your pain is a warning sign to stop you doing certain activities, it's important that you keep active to overcome it."

Lower back pain can be more than just physical.

It can have a profound effect on a person's mood, and just about every other part of your life.

"Chronic pain is something that interferes with every aspect of daily living," says Dr Robert Jamison, associate professor in the Departments of Anaesthesia and Psychiatry.

"You can't concentrate -- you can't remember things as well.

"It affects your appetite, it affects your sleep."

For most people, lower back pain is just a minor annoyance that emerges once in a while, sticks around for a couple of days, then goes away.

For other people, there's no break from the pain.

When pain becomes chronic, it goes far beyond a physical sensation.

It can impact your emotions, too.

"The back pain can become a black hole for all of life's bumps in the road," says Dr Jerome Schofferman, head of the Rehabilitation, Interventional, and Medical Spine Care.

"Everything is blamed on the back pain. If the back pain were better, everything would be better."


People who are in constant pain may worry that they won't be able to work or go about their daily activities.

Back pain is more than just unpleasant sensations traveling through the nervous system.

It also involves one's perception, feelings, and thoughts.

With all of that stress, feelings of depression, anxiety, and irritability may occur which in turn may make the back pain worse, making it a vicious cycle.

People can seek psychological support to aid their back recovery.

The NHS recommends trying cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – this can be a useful part of treatment if a person is struggling to cope with their pain.

CBT, along with mindfulness techniques, have been proven to help chronic back pain.



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