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San Francisco Spine Center convinced: Emotional Stress and Back Pain feed off of each other

Posted Jun 02 2009 4:35pm

I have noticed something over the past 15 years. It seems that patients with chronic back pain take on quite a bit of emotional stress because of their condition. Chronic pain syndromes trigger the release of all  sorts of natural pain killers and chemicals that can effect our moods and energy levels.  Then, pain medications cause even more cross fire and emotional swings. It's also common for patients that have various forms of ongoing emotional stress  (finances, family, job, etc) to develop various forms of visceral conditions (digestive problems, heart conditions, skin rashes) as well as pain syndromes (back pain, carpal tunnel, neck pain). So, they end up feeding off of each other, often times spiraling out of control. This is why we feel it is so important to incorporate relaxation techniques into our back pain treatment protocol. It's part of your "owners manual" you receive when you start treatment with us. For very difficult cases I will often times bring in a doctor that specializes in Hypnosis and Guided Imagery, as well as Auricular Acupuncture for pain control. Sometimes we need to break out the heavy artilery to break these pain cycles. But for most of you, setting some quiet time aside each day and incorporating some of the meditations we recommend will adjust this knob in the right direction, reducing stress and improving health. Here is a very detailed article on the actual pathophysiology of chronic back pain. This is very good information until it gets to the treatment recommendations. The article does not mention spinal decompression. Spinal decompression is relatively new (5-7 yrs) and has not worked it's way into the mainstream yet, but it will. For now we consider ourselves pioneers and the patients that we are accepting for treatment understand this. But for the most part, the results are amazing, about 90% success. Managing emotional stress with meditation and guided imagery gives you the best chance for success.    

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