The Psychology of Back Pain – Changing your mind’s biology

As back pain is quite common in our times, there are also as many different responses as the number of people experiencing it. The same level of pain experienced by two different people can be totally different in respect of responses. This is all due to mental health differences and outlooks of people.

Psychological factors affecting back pain patients regarding the onset of pain are determined through an assessment of both the psychological and physical state of the sufferer, offering possible pain management and treatment. That further helps to discover the number of ways to both deal with the pain, physical symptoms and also offer psychological treatment.

Psychological Vulnerabilities that Worsen the Pain

Avoiding physical activity may cause psychological distress. Your emotions, and especially stress, then become a contributor to pain worsening. A patient’s health beliefs and coping strategies will largely determine the levels of distress and period of the pain.

The picture is grim for anxiety–prone patients, as their catastrophic thinking can make things far worse for them. Brain changes pain intensity may worsen because of abnormal psychological or psychosocial factors of individual patients.

These psychological vulnerabilities change the course of the brain by switching dopamine regulations. That further disrupts emotional control, anxiety, and attention.

Thus, distress becomes uncontrollable resulting in anxiousness. Patients in such cases can’t focus on anything other than the pain. In other words, they tend to get consumed by said pain.

Apart from these psychological factors that worsen the pain, the reverse can also be true, where it’s the pain that rewires the brain in some cases.

Pain sensitivity circuits present in the brain are affected when the pain occurs firstly. As the pain continues, these circuits change from being pain sensitive to becoming the circuits responsible for emotional processing.

That’s why controlling emotions becomes way more difficult for people with chronic pain conditions, and especially those suffering from chronic low back pain.

A landmark study was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association by the researchers of the University of Washington. It demonstrated that patients experiencing chronic pain and suffering from distress can be treated by psychological therapies such as mindfulness or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It was observed that it was significantly effective in reducing a patient’s disability and pain than medical care alone.

320 adults between the ages of 20 and 70 were asked to participate in an eight-week programme where they were to attend one of these methods of mindfulness or CBT in one class and regular care in the other class.

Subjects that received mindfulness or CBT reported significant improvements in the pain and disability, whereas subjects receiving regular care didn’t report any speedy recovery. These improvements were evident even after the end of the study for a full year.

How to Change Mind’s Biology to Manage Back Pain

1) Mindfulness


Mindfulness is the teaching of being aware of ourselves and being in the moment by experiencing physical sensations and letting go of usual negative responses. It is the process of observing coming and going thoughts.

This helps in accepting ourselves and living with the pain, even if just temporarily, as we carry on with our daily activities. It is a process of taming the pain by paying attention to how it feels at each moment by easing our tendency to tense up against it.

That means a negligible amount of hours spent thinking about the pain each day. That leads to no hating of back pain or worrying.

Treat Back Pain Naturally!

The Spinal Backrack is an orthopaedic device that decompresses your spine and effectively relieves pain in the back and neck, including that which is caused by psychological factors, through exercises that are easy to do at home and use your own body weight. Given its design, it targets the entire length of the spine, ensuring that any pain point along the back is soothed. It is 100% natural, comfortable, and free of side-effects and it provides long-term pain relief and prevention. Thousands of people have already seen its benefits, so why not be one of them?

2) CBT

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, knows as CBT in short, encourages a completely different approach. It helps patients to observe their negative thoughts by observing their current condition, then replacing them with realistic thoughts.

Both methods are effective with respect to learning the functioning of our minds. This helps our anxious, angry, frustrated thoughts and feelings to decrease our fears and emotional stress.

3) Hypnosis

Hypnosis is also observed to help with the pain. MBSR is the most effective alternative to CBT and hypnosis. As they both have weaker evidence to support effectiveness in case of back pain. If they both fail, then MBSR is worth taking a shot.

4) Progressive Muscle Relaxation

It is another way of treating back pain, depending on the patient’s cause. This technique focuses on decreasing anxiety by making patients more aware of relaxing the body rather than focusing on the tension. Evidence shows that a combination of psychiatric medication with psychotherapies can be more helpful than either of the treatments.

When you know back pain, especially severe pain along the spine, is linked to psychological factors you need not underestimate it. Mind over matter is less significant in the current day. This all become more relevant when there is a relationship between brain–based changes and low back pain. So, changing your mindset and brain biology can help your brain and thus lessen the pain.

Do not Neglect Emotional Factors Related to Back Pain

It is advisable to consider emotional factors besides the physical factors involved in the back pain. There are effective coping strategies that can even help when you are stressed. These include addressing the root causes of stress, such as reducing job hours, changing jobs, ending a relationship. As resilience can be increased by meditating, exercising and healthy eating, a good counsellor can be helpful in this regard, as can be physiotherapy.

If the symptoms do not improve, it is recommended that you seek further medical advice and obtain a diagnosis, to determine the exact cause of your symptoms and get adequate care. When a patient’s mental state is involved in the occurrence of physical symptoms, it is important to take a holistic approach and address both physical and mental factors that affect the person, to ensure that all the root causes are tackled.

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