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Back Pain: Is It in Your Mind or in Your Back?
Back Pain: Is It in Your Mind or in Your Back?

With approximately 80 percent of people in the world suffering from back pain at some point in their life, understanding back pain and how to treat it becomes extremely important. Getting a proper diagnosis of the cause of the pain and learning how to successfully treat the pain means relief. Ignorance can translate into a lifetime of suffering.

With so many suffering from lower back pain or chronic back pain, medical practitioners are seeking long-term solutions for suffers. Some individuals require surgery or medication, but others may discover greater relief by seeking help through controlling their thoughts and emotions than from surgery or medication.

A study published by JAMA Network shares the results of a study performed by the integrated healthcare system of Washington State. Three hundred forty-two adults were followed for one and one-half years. They were divided out among traditional treatment, mindfulness training (MBSR), and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT); and the results of these treatment options were charted. Researchers discovered that roughly forty-five percent of MBSR and CBT patients had improvement by the end of their treatment while only twenty-six percent of traditional treatment patients had improvement.

According to the North American Spine Society, there is a reason for these findings. People, when they experience pain, stress out over the pain and the repercussions of it – loss of work, time spent recuperating, cost, etc. This anxiety, or stress, over the pain can increase the sufferer’s perception of pain and reduce the individual’s coping skills. Simply put, pain leads to stress, which leads to pain, which leads to more stress, which leads to more pain. The person is trapped in an endless cycle.

WebMD points out another back problem that arises from a mental or emotional issue. Some people, when they suffer an injury that results in back pain, avoid activity for fear of further injury. The lack of activity leads to weaker muscles. Weaker muscles open these individuals up to greater chance of injury with activity, another vicious cycle.

Some available alternative treatments for chronic pain and back pain that show positive results are

  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): MBSR patients receive training that teaches them to be aware of their pain and let go of the negative reaction that goes with it. The goal is learning to be with pain.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): For those who tend to stress out over their pain and think it will never end or be more than they can bear, CBT shows great promise. Patients are treated either individually or in group sessions. They learn to identify their wrong thoughts and then replace the wrong thoughts with correct, or accurate, ones. By changing their frame of mind, they can take control of their pain.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that is used primarily for relieving stress. Patients are taught to identify individual muscles groups within their body. As they inhale, they tighten one set of muscles for four to ten seconds. On the exhale, they relax the muscle group quickly. They rest for twenty seconds before moving onto the next muscle set. As the individual becomes adept at moving through the muscle groups, he or she gains awareness of the body. When one area is in pain, identifying the muscles associated with that area is simple. The person then performs muscle relaxation on the area to find relief.
  • Stress Management: Learning to manage stress is not any one technique. It can take different forms depending upon the individual. Finding ways to decompress and let go of stress is critical to managing pain. For some, exercise is the answer; others do art or read. Find the technique that works for you.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback allows you to retrain your mind by attaching sensors to your body that show how your body is responding to stimulus. Electric sensors can monitor breathing, heartrate, temperature, sweat, and muscle contractions. Training usually takes place in a medical center or with a physical therapist. As the readings come in, the instructor teaches you how to control your body’s responses. Today, many biofeedback devices are available on computers and mobile devices, allowing you to monitor yourself.

Not every individual will find relief through controlling thoughts and emotions. Some people require medical intervention to get relief from chronic back pain or back injuries. To learn whether an alternative therapy is an option for you, seek a proper diagnosis from the specialists at Atlanta Brain and Spine Care. Contact them today for an appointment.

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