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Is stress behind chronic back pain?


Many people suffer from back pain.
In the “Summary of Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions” published by the Ministry of
Health, Labor and Welfare, back pain has always ranked high in subjective symptoms. In the
same survey in 2016, the number of persons with some subjective symptoms (complaining
persons) was 305.9 per 1,000 population. The most common subjective symptom among men
was low back pain; among females it was the second after stiff shoulders.

The first medical department you’d go to when you have back pain would be orthopedic surgery.
However, even if you undergo an orthopedic examination, the pain might remain without
knowing the cause even if you can’t find any abnormalities in the hip bones, muscles, nerves,

“Psychogenic back pain” is said to be hidden in such prolonged back pain for unknown

Relationship between heart and back pain pointed out in guidelines

In the “Backache Clinical Practice Guidelines 2019” which was revised for the first time in seven
years (supervised by The Japanese Orthopaedic Association and the Japanese Society of
Lumbar Spine Disorders), it has been pointed out that “psychosocial factors are strongly related
to the treatment outcome and prolongation of low back pain”
In other words, back pain is prolonged and difficult to alleviate when mental stress,
interpersonal concerns, and depression are present.

The brain interprets some stimuli as “pain”.
At the same time, when the brain feels pain, it issues commands to control the pain by
releasing neurotransmitters such as serotonin and noradrenaline. However, under high stress,
this “pain control” system does not work well, making the pain easier to feel and prolonging it
even if the source of the pain is removed.
In addition, prolonged pain can cause additional stress and create a vicious cycle.

How do we deal with psychogenic back pain?

Even if you have low back pain, if the cause is psychological, the pain will not go away if you
don’t deal with the stress and manage it well.

Don’t just dwell on pain

Think about what you can do, even if you are in pain
Be aware of when your pain increases
Entertain yourself, and do moderate exercise on a daily basis

It is said that reviewing the way of thinking and actions regarding pain is good for improving
psychogenic back pain.
However, some medical and psychiatric treatment, such as drug treatment and counseling,
may be required.

If you have a backache that consistently does not improve, review how you are carrying
yourself and functioning to see if stress is causing the problem.

In Medical Prime Shinkawa, the Tokyo Stress Clinic for psychosomatic medicine opened on the
5th floor as of March 2. If you have any problems with your life or work due to stress, anxiety, or
insomnia, please feel free to contact us.

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