Back pain is like many other disagreeable experiences occurring in our lives. We go through a cycle of emotions as it affects our daily routines and our expectations of ourselves. Especially when it becomes a chronic condition. As many as four out of five adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives. While many cases can resolve themselves without much treatment, others will go on to become chronic and have a significant impact on one’s quality of life. While the physical pain is undoubtedly real, research has proven that both psychological and physiological factors play a role in ongoing pain. By understanding these factors, you can learn how to manage back pain in a way that allows you to lead a fuller life in spite of it.
The Link Between Your Brain and Your Pain
Because humans are not robots, there will always be a psychological or emotional response to what goes on in our bodies. It is normal to feel fear and anxiety and become caught up in the ‘what ifs’, if you have experienced a back injury. These feelings will begin to influence the decisions you make, how you feel about yourself and how you go about your daily life. Chronic pain is a term for pain that continues for longer than 12 weeks despite treatment. It is pain that can become life-altering and it can become a cycle that is hard to break. There are several theories as why some pain cannot be relieved. Some experts think it is a dysfunction of the nerves and glands to handle stress. Others say it becomes a learned response. It could be a bit of both or something yet to be recognized.
A learned response is a habit, and habits operate outside of our awareness. The thought of sweeping the floor, gardening or carrying a moderate load will send red alerts to the brain. An immediate response of ‘I can’t do that’ rings. This is an appropriate self-defense mechanism when there is an acute injury, but it is debilitating when the pain has become chronic. By recognising and acknowledging your first response to participating in activities that you think may cause you pain, you can begin to take control and choose small steps to becoming more active. By purposely challenging this response with ‘I can do that – with some safety measures in place’ the result can be surprising, rewarding and motivating. No matter how small the activity or success you’ll be on your way to feeling more positive.
So, what can you do to keep your brain out of the pain equation?
The Importance Of Keeping Active
Remaining inactive can cause your core muscles to weaken and actually make your pain worse over time. Removing yourself from the physical activities that you enjoy can make you feel isolated and down. This adds to the emotional impact of your discomfort. It is well recognised how important it is to relearn good posture and regain normal muscle activity patterns and balance to recover from back injuries. No matter what activity or exercise you do it will be most effective when your spine is in good alignment.
Once you graduate from static exercise and are able to do aerobic exercises such as walking, biking or rowing, you will increase your body’s endorphins. These hormones are your in-built pain relief hormones. By increasing them you will really begin to break the cycle of emotional and physical pain. Interestingly music, singing or playing an instrument will also help in this way. Of course, any physical activity should be discussed with your doctor or physio if you are suffering from injury or illness. It is vital to take on new things gradually and find out when it’s okay to work with the pain. A professional can help you determine which kinds of exercises or activities could actually cause further harm to your body. That way, you can safely remain active without causing further injury or damage.
Keeping active while suffering from back pain is a delicate balance. Pain puts us on high alert and it also confuses signals sent to our muscles. This interferes with the patterns of co-ordination between muscle groups and can pull us out of balance. But with appropriate exercises and perseverance, you can re-establish normal patterns of movement and begin to regain strength. Using a Smileybelt to support your posture while you are active can not only reduce pain and the chance of re-injury, but also give you the confidence to keep going. Gradually you’ll build up endurance and the ability to do more.
How To Feel The Fear And Keep Going
The best way to combat fear is to be proactive and informed about the cause of your pain. If you perceive your body to be weak and treat it as such unnecessarily, you will restrict your life and end up making things worse. Talk to your physician or physiotherapist about what your body can handle, and have faith in your abilities. Address the psychological side of pain by finding ways to manage your stress and anxiety. Relaxation training, biofeedback, hypnosis, and cognitive-behavioral therapy have all proven to be useful in pain management. Remember to celebrate small wins!
Living A Normal Life With Chronic Back Pain
While you may not be able to do all the things you want to, try to cultivate a positive attitude. Make the best of the things you can do. It is possible to have a full life in spite of back pain, particularly if you focus on discovering ways to cope with it. Often, many conditions improve over time as you build core strength and feel pain less and less. You will become well adept at knowing your limits and how far you can push yourself. There is no shame in taking the foot off the accelerator a bit! Modify your activities if you are feeling more discomfort than usual. Many people who suffer from chronic back pain do find relief from a Smileybelt support belt. It may work for you too. Find out more about Smileybelt for back pain and the success stories here.