Life always seems to be pretty stressful – but right now, stress is at an all-time high! The COVID pandemic has put a strain on work, home life and plans for most of us, but it’s also deprived us of our ability to get out, exercise and enjoy the fun parts of life as we usually would. It’s no surprise that we’re hearing more and more about stress-related illness and were seeing more clients than ever who are mainly looking the reduce stress.
Does stress cause back pain?
Stress is one of many factors which are associated with longer-term health challenges like anxiety and back pain – Why? When your body is in a constant state of stress, it produces hormones that can disrupt almost all of your body’s natural processes and is often in a “tense” state, ready to react to a perceived danger with a “fight or flight” reaction. Tight muscles can put additional strain on existing injuries, or common issues such as spinal misalignments turning them from minor issues, into potentially very painful ones.
None of this will be a surprise to those of us in the “adult” world – “stressed” is a term which applies to most of us, most of the time – but perhaps more concerning is the (apparent) increase in stress and stress-related pain in young people. Evidence now suggests that emotional problems are associated with spinal pain in schoolchildren aged 11–14 yearsand that spinal pain has been associated with perceived stress, depressive symptoms, and other social, psychological, and emotional factors in adolescents.
Can Chiropractic reduce stress?
Chiropractic isn’t a psychological treatment, and as such we wouldn’t claim that it directly treats stress – what chiropractic can do is reduce, and often totally eliminate, the unpleasant physical symptoms which go along with stress. It’s also true that stress (like many conditions) often forms a vicious cycle, in which back pain (for example) arises due to stress, and the becomes another stressor in and of itself. Chiropractic can therefore play a valuable role in stress reduction by:
- Reducing Muscle Tension: Reducing any built-up tension in your muscles can help soothe a tired body and mind.
- Restoring Movement: Gentle adjustments to the body can help you move your back, arms, and legs more freely and with less pain.
- Offering Personalized Exercise: Daily exercise is a powerful way to turn the dial down on that mental stress and upon your overall physical wellbeing (not to mention the effectiveness of our care!).
- Introducing tailored stretches: Stretching, while often the least exciting part of the exercise, is perhaps the most beneficial for mental health – by stretching muscles, we help to reduce the tension which builds up during the day, stress or not.
- Improving sleep: While chiropractic is not a treatment specifically shown to treat insomnia, or other sleep problems, ask any chiropractor and they will tell you that by addressing underlying physical pain and tension the vast majority of clients experience a significant improvement in sleep quality. Sleep itself has been demonstrated to be a major factor in reducing stress, anxiety and many associated conditions. 
Do you need help reducing stress?
While we’re keen to stress that those suffering from severe anxiety, or stress which is so crippling even getting out of the house can be hard, should seek the help of a qualified mental health professional, if you’re suffering from moderate stress especially with physical pain and tension, chiropractic could be exactly the treatment you are looking for. At the very least, we can help take pain and discomfort of the problem list!
 Murphy B, Buckle P, Stubbs D (2007) A cross-sectional study of self-reported back and neck pain among English schoolchildren
and associated physical and psychological risk factors. Appl Ergon 38: 797–804
Watson K, Papageorgiou A, Jones G, Taylor S, Symmons D, Silman A, Macfarlane G (2003) Low back pain in schoolchildren: the role of mechanical and psychosocial factors. Arch Dis Child 88(1):12–17
 Diepenmaat AC, van der Wal MF, de Vet HC, Hirasing RA (2006) Neck/shoulder, low back, and arm pain in relation to computer use, physical activity, stress, and depression among Dutch adolescents. Pediatrics 117(2):412–416
 Neurophysiological Effects of Spinal Manipulation. The Spine Journal. 2002.