Is stress a trigger of lower back pain?

25th March 2019

Low back pain, particularly acute low back pain is something that we see regularly at the White Hart Clinic. Patients visiting us can be quite limited and disabled in what they’re able to do and are often unclear on what has been the trigger for their pain.

A recent study published has shed more light on this, showing what does and doesn’t cause these flare ups.

The study found that most people believe activities such as bending, twisting and lifting cause acute back pain, which is something we see often here at the White Hart Clinic. However, what the research shows is more common triggers for these acute flare ups of low back pain are stressful events, depression emotional triggers and interestingly low job satisfaction (not an issue for us here at The White Hart Clinic!)

To debunk some other misconceptions the study also highlighted that activities such as lifting, running, standing, sitting (although sitting for 6+ hours was a trigger), sport and trauma are not as strongly associated with acute low back pain. Some of these, such as lifting, running and sport, can help prevent these episodes when done correctly and with the right amount of loading.

All of this makes sense considering up to date understanding of pain theories; there are more key drivers at play than just the mechanical ones. Pain is multi-factorial in its presentation and is treated more effectively with a multi-factorial approach. This doesn’t mean more complex, it means more helpful with an improved understanding of the different mechanisms that drive the pain.

A final interesting, but not surprising, side note the study found was that seeing a physiotherapist reduced the risk of having an acute lower back pain incident.

By understanding these triggers better, we can help to prevent these debilitating episodes from occurring. For more information on this or discuss how you can prevent this yourself please feel free to contact any of the team at the White Hart Clinic.

Suri, P., Et Al (2018). “Do Physical Acitivites Trigger Flare-Ups During an Acute Low Back Pain Episode?: A Longitudinal Case-Crossover Feasibility Study.” Spine 43 (6): 427-433.

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