Back Pain and Depression

Posted on Jun 22, 2017


Does chronic back pain cause depression or does depression cause back pain? Well, the answer to that is… both.

For those with back pain that doesn’t seem to go away, the pain disrupts their everyday routine. Back pain means not being able to be in public easily. They may have to sit or lie down while everyone else is standing around. Back pain can also interrupt what should otherwise be a normal, nice night’s sleep. Because it hurts so bad, “normal” exercises like taking a walk in the park or bicycling to the store might be out of the question. A person with a chronic back ache is more likely to want to spend time in bed, eating junk food and watching TV to pass the time and forget their troubles. Unfortunately, it’s that kind of inactivity, coupled with poor nutrition, that easily leads to feelings of depression.

Bad back pain can interfere with people’s lives in every single way, from not being able to do their job to annoying romantic partners who want their loved one to be able to do things with them “but they can’t.” Emotionally, a bad back takes its toll on a person, causing them to be grumpy, sad, and depressed. If you’ve ever had chronic pain, you know the feeling(s).

Meanwhile, depression can lead to back pain. Think about this way: if you’re feeling depressed, what are some of the symptoms? If you guessed body aches, first, then you’re right! Research has shown that depression causes increased pain and inflammation in the body. Proteins known as cytokines were found to be front and center in depressed patients. Cytokines affect the immune system’s response to both infections and disease. In other words, the more cytokines your body’s making, the less vigilant your immune system…which can lead to back pain.
Furthermore, a depressed person tends to avoid exercise. In fact, he or she may have a hard time getting out of bed everyday, let alone moving their body in order to strengthen core muscles. Thus, more pressure and stress is put on joints, ligaments and other things found in a person’s back. Literally, depression, with its chemical processes and physical effects, can cause back pain. It should be noted that research has even shown that depression has a negative effect on how well a patient heals after spinal surgery.

So what’s a person with depression and/or back pain to do? A chiropractor can help guide a person toward feeling better in several ways. Besides making “adjustments” to the person’s back so that things are “more in alignment,” a chiropractor can also offer relaxation training as well as advice on what to eat and what not to eat. The less inflammation and stress a person has in their life, the better their body will feel. A chiropractor’s role in treating back pain can take a holistic approach, in order to consider alternative ways for a person to heal in due time.

Exercises can help a person’s back feel better when they’re done under the supervision and advice of an expert. Oftentimes, people try to heal their back with “whatever,” but to no avail. However, under the trained eye of a watchful, helpful person such as a chiropractor, there are certain ways to move one’s body that will help alleviate back pain naturally!

It has been said that a person’s mood improves after exercising, as it gives people a natural high. If a person is willing to take small steps toward improving their flexibility and strengthening their core and back muscles, both back pain and depression can be lessened.

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