Back pain is great back pain. Chronic back pain is the world’s largest indicator of disability and a problem for eight percent of Americans, according to the Georgetown Health Policy Institute. There are many possible causes, but the most common are sitting too much and exercising too little. The latter becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as those suffering from back pain are also less likely to exercise it.
However, new research shows that chronic back pain isn’t just physical. In fact, those suffering from a range of back ailments may also struggle with some deep-seated emotional problems. We covered how our emotions are linked to other physical ailments such as tight hips and shoulder tension. Here’s a closer look at what back pain could say about what’s going on in your brain.
The link between back pain and your brain
Back pain can be intense and severely restrict mobility. And back pain – especially back pain – can have psychological causes.
According to Dr. Srini Pillay, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, can actually make acute pain worse for those prone to anxiety and “catastrophic thinking”.
“Pain itself can rewire your brain,” writes Dr. Pillay at Harvard Health. But when the pain persists, the associated brain activity switches from circuits of pain to circuits that process emotions. That is why emotions such as fear are often the focus of chronic back pain. And that’s why emotional control becomes so much more difficult. “
The doctor Dr. John Sarno has spent his career associating somatic emotions with back pain. He believed that back pain could be linked to Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS). In particular, he found that suppressed emotions could cause a mild lack of oxygen in the body and lead to physical pain. In other words, the body actually distracted us from deep-seated emotions (many of which are from childhood) with lower back pain.
“Some believe that back pain is a somatic symptom that is caused by the unconscious to distract us from emotional problems that we want to suppress,” writes Dr. Shawn Burn in Psychology Today. “Doctor John Sarno says that tension from internalized pressure and anger leads to a lack of oxygen in the muscle, and that is where the pain comes from.”
Back pain and anger
The places we hide stress in the body are related to emotional health (you can read more about the remarkable connection between your tight hips and your emotions). According to Dr. Sean Grover, a psychotherapist and author, has associated lower back pain with steadfast anger. Patients who experience anger (suppressed or conscious) may find it manifested in the form of lower back pain.
Science seems to support this (excuse the pun). A study published in the September 2014 issue of Annals of Behavioral Health found that “suppressing anger” is associated with increased pain in patients with chronic lower back pain.
Treatments for back pain
If back pain is really related to repressed emotions some of which may not even know you are carrying around, what should you do about it?
Emotional releases can occur during both deep yoga sessions and massage therapy. When a tension-locked area is released, great emotional releases can take place.
For some, however, massage therapy is not enough. If the pain doesn’t seem to get better with the massage, says Darragh Simon, owner of Trinity Wellness and a licensed massage therapist with over two decades of experience, you may need psychiatric therapy as well. Acupuncture is another powerful way to unlock deep-seated emotions and open up the chi so pain and emotional blocks can be released. Either way, using the source of the pain, not the symptoms themselves, you are well on the way to finally healing your pain.
Based on bio-authority
9 Trusted CBD Brands That Source Organic Hemp and Offer Third Party Testing
The 11 best natural face serums from word of mouth
How to find peace: Staying in balance in the midst of chaos