In a previous article, on how Exercise Helps Chronic Low Back Pain I discussed the importance of moving, exercising more, and sitting less to help chronic low back pain. I was inspired to write this article about a patient who made drastic changes to his lifestyle in order to get his health back and have a happier life. In his case, managing his stress was key to helping him overcome chronic low back pain.
Stress and chronic pain
There are many causes of chronic low back pain, but an often overlooked cause is mental stress. Prolonged mental stress leads to nerve and muscle tension as well as an increase in inflammation (swelling) in the body. This can lead to chronic low back pain or chronic pain in other areas of the body. (1, 2, 3)
A story of a patient managing stress to help his chronic low back pain
My patient Brent (name changed for privacy), was getting adjusted one to two times per week for months. Although he was getting good results from regular chiropractic care, his low back pain would keep coming back. I sensed Brent was a tired and stressed out guy. I asked him about sleep, stress and his moods. This conversation seemed to turn on a light bulb inside his brain. About a month after our conversation, Brent came back in for another spinal check-up. I noticed his low back felt less tense and I pointed that out to him. What he said to me next inspired me and brought a smile on my face.
Brent agreed with me and said his low back pain was way better. He was using stress management techniques such as breathing exercises and reframing his mind. He noticed stress had a huge impact on his chronic low back pain when his wife and him got into an argument. Soon after the argument his low back pain started to hurt.
How to manage stress and other lifestyle strategies
I’m not surprised by Brent’s revelation as there growing evidence that practicing stress management techniques like mindfulness and meditation can help reduce physical pain. (4, 5, 6) Click here to get some ideas on how to manage stress.
Not only did Brent manage his stress to help his low back pain, he also cleaned up his diet. He was eating more whole foods and staying away from refined flours and sugars. I have written many articles the importance of eating clean in the form of anti-inflammatory diets.
Brent also made sleep a priority. In fact, he asked his boss if he could come into work an hour later so he could sleep longer. He noticed he wasn’t getting enough sleep which was affecting his energy, moods, and ultimately his performance. Lack of proper sleep was probably affecting his low back as well.
Brent recognized that although chiropractic care was helping his low back pain, he had to take responsibility for his chronic pain and become a partner in his healing.
If you have chronic low back pain, managing your stress can make a huge impact in reducing your pain. I encourage you to create a partnership with your health care practitioner. Start implementing lifestyle strategies like Brent did to help take back your health back.
Now I would like to hear from you. Do you have a story to share where you have adopted a healthier lifestyle to turn around your health?
To learn more about how chiropractic care could help you and your family read Edmonton chiropractor Dr. Dean collins’ comprehensive guide to chiropractic: Chiropractic Care for Everyone.