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The depressing reality of low back pain

low back pain, depression

The way that low back pain can affect your mood

Low back pain is one of the leading causes of disability in North America. If you have ever thrown out your back or experienced a bout of back pain, you realize just how awful back pain can be. Sometimes it isn’t just your physical body that back pain effects but it is your mental health as well. Back pain can lead to anxiety and depression. In this article, we will discuss the effect that low back pain can have on your mood and some steps to try to alleviate it.

Low back pain increases your risk of depression

Being in pain sucks. When it’s your back – it sucks more. I know that when I threw out my back, I didn’t realize just how many things required me to move through my back in the first place. Wincing whenever you need to sit for longer periods of time or when back pain strikes with walking. When it lasts for weeks and seems like it has no intention to relent any time soon, it can definitely bring your mood down.

Persons who experience chronic low back pain are at increased risk for depression. The longer back pain has been going on for, the more likely you are to experienced at least a slight decrease in mood. If you are overweight, this risk increases even more (why that is I’m not exactly sure).

Back pain can make you afraid to move

When we have back pain when we do a certain movement, we avoid that movement. It makes sense right? It hurts me when I do this. Well then don’t do it! But with back pain, if we are avoiding some of the movements that cause pain, we can be left extremely limited in the things that we can do. Over time, we become worried that if we go back to doing the movements we did before, the back pain will come back or get worse.

It almost creates a dangerous cycle where people are afraid to move because of their pain so they don’t move. This gets them weaker in those movements and it makes them even less likely to do it again. This fear of movement that can come up because of low back pain is called kinesiophobia.

We can become extremely sensitive to pain

The impact that back pain can have on how we feel pain in general, now and in the future is a huge area of research. We know that pain is not just a physical thing. Being sad can make pain worse even if the injury is exactly the same. This is just one example that demonstrates how pain can be interpreted differently based on the circumstances we are in. If we have been experiencing low back pain especially for extended periods of time, we can become very sensitive to pain.

This pain sensitivity can create a loop. We feel more pain than we used to which affects our mood. Our mood is low because we are in pain all the time. Around and around we go.

So how do we break the cycle?

That can be a really difficult question to answer. Physiotherapy is an amazing option because your physiotherapist can give you suggestions to help manage your pain in the short term and start developing long term strategies to keep it at bay.

Movement will always be medicine for low back pain. Seeing a physiotherapist that can place you on an exercise program geared towards your specific needs will give you all of the feel good parts of exercise, without the increase in pain that can result.

In the upcoming articles and videos, we are going to deep dive into low back pain. We are going to try to give you tips and tricks to manage your back pain and prevent it from coming back.

Seen these FAQs yet? Learn what is spinal stenosis and a disc herniation, two of the most common types of low back pain.

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