The claim that lower back pain can lead to stress is not a controversial statement. But what about the other way around?

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Lower Back StrainStress may exacerbate your lower back pain, or be the primary cause of it.
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Lower Back Strain Video

Is it possible that stress is the primary cause of your lower back pain? Read on to find out the answer.

See Back Pain Causes: Overview of Conditions That Can Create Back Pain

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How does stress lead to lower back pain?

Before we discuss whether stress is the cause of your lower back pain, let's quickly look at how stress may lead to lower back pain. There are numerous theories on this topic, but what most have in common is the idea that psychological and emotional factors lead to a physical change that results in your lower back pain.

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If stress is the cause of a person's lower back pain, it is easy to get caught in a cycle of pain. In this cycle, a person refrains from physical activity due to a fear of pain and/or injury. In response, the person's muscles become deconditioned, which in turn increases their pain. This cycle amplifies as the new pain leads to even less physical activity.

See How Does Stress Cause Back Pain?

Diagnosing stress-related lower back pain

The first thing to know about diagnosing stress-related lower back pain is that you should not self-diagnose. Your pain may be caused by a serious medical condition, and so you need to consult with a qualified medical professional.

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As a general rule, the symptoms of stress-related lower back pain are similar to fibromyalgia symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • Back and/or neck pain
  • Diffuse muscle aches
  • Problems with sleep and general fatigue
  • Pain that is not isolated to only spot

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To confirm the diagnosis of your pain, you doctor will typically ask for your medical history and perform a physical examination (in part to rule out any major problems).

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The pain is not all in your head

When it comes to stress-related lower back pain, it is important to remember that this type of pain is real. It is not imagined or made up, but is just as real as if your back pain was caused by an accident or trauma.

See Chronic Pain As a Disease: Why Does It Still Hurt?

In recognition that your stress-related back pain is real, you and your doctor may work together to treat your pain with any combination of the following:

  • Physical therapy
  • Pain medications
  • Counseling and/or therapy
  • Psychological pain management techniques

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If you suspect stress may be the cause of your lower back pain, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you are able. You may find meaningful relief, and in turn be able to return to your favorite activities and hobbies.

Learn more:

Miscellaneous Causes of Low Back Pain

Managing Stress, Depression and Chronic Back Pain