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Chronic Low Back Pain| Anger| Muscle Tension

Posted Sep 18 2008 10:22am

In a study on patients with chronic low back pain to determine whetheranger-in, anger-out, and hostility predicted symptom-specific muscle tension reactivity found that if anger was kept in with hostility during an anger recall interview, there was increased electromyographic tension in the lumbar paraspinal muscles but not in the trapezius muscle.   Increases in systolic bloodpressure and diastolic bloodpressure changes were also noted with the least changes occurring in those patients with high anger-in/low hostility.   These physiological changes did not occur when patients were subjected to a sadness recall interview.   The conclusion was that patients with chronic low back pain who tend to suppress anger and are cynically hostile may be more likely to experience high levels of muscle tension near the site of pain and injury during anger, but not during sadness, than other groups 1. 

On the contrary, a massage can help muscles relax and bring down the blood pressure, at least in healthy subjects. A study that showed that after myofascial trigger-point massage therapy there was a significant decrease in heart rate, systolic bloodpressure and diastolic bloodpressure.    Analysis of heart rate variability revealed a significant increase in parasympathetic activity following myofascial trigger-point massage therapy. Additionally both muscle tension and emotional state, showed significant improvement 2.  

  1. Burns JW. Bruehl S. Quartana PJ. Anger management style and hostility among patients with chronicpain: effects on symptom-specific physiological reactivity during anger- and sadness-recall interviews.[Journal Article. Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural]Psychosomatic Medicine. 68(5):786-93, 2006 Sep-Oct
  2. Delaney JP. Leong KS. Watkins A. Brodie D. The short-term effects ofmyofascialtrigger point massage therapy on cardiac autonomic tone in healthy subjects.Journal of Advanced Nursing. 37(4):364-71, 2002 Feb.
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