Massage Therapy Center Blog

Emotional Impacts of Low Back Pain

emotional aspects of back painNo matter how healthy or well-conditioned your body may be, at some point, your lower back is almost destined to cause you problems. For most people, low back pain is just a minor annoyance that emerges once in awhile, 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. How well you cope with your low back pain, and whether you get the right treatment for the physical and emotional impacts of it, will determine whether you control your pain, or it controls you.

“Chronic pain is something that interferes with every aspect of daily living. You can’t concentrate, you can’t remember things as well. It affects your appetite, it affects your sleep,” says Robert N. Jamison, PhD, associate professor in the Departments of Anesthesia and Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. Pain is more than just unpleasant sensations traveling through your nervous system. It also involves your perception, feelings, and thoughts. You’re in pain, so you feel stressed and anxious. Stress can cause your muscles to tense up, which ratchets up the pain even more. Stress and pain can turn into an inescapable cycle.

Another cycle can emerge, this one centered on fear and avoidance. People will avoid activities that they fear might either make their pain worse or cause them to re-injure themselves. Avoiding physical activity will eventually weaken your body to the point that even if you want to finally go out and do something, you won’t have the strength to do it.

At Massage Therapy Center Palo Alto, we know that getting regular massage and bodywork can influence the health of your back in many positive ways—by promoting relaxation and well-being, reducing tension and anxiety, improving blood circulation that delivers oxygen and nutrients to the cells, and relieving muscle cramps as well as spasms.

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