This 2017 study found a correlation between low back pain, depression and perceived stress among adults in Canada.
If you've ever experienced any type of pain, it's not hard to understand that your mood and stress levels could also be affected. No one is happy and relaxed when they are in pain, especially spine pain.
It's well established that low back pain is the number one cause of disability and missed work worldwide. Depression has been associated with many other disorders. Put these two things together and we officially have a problem that needs some attention.
There are many ways to address low back pain and depression and the treatment will vary from person to person. Some people will be able to manage it on their own, but many will require additional help. That's okay! When it comes to low back pain, mood and stress, here are some of my favorite approaches:
Get Adjusted: Improving movement through the spine through manipulation has been shown to decrease low back pain. Chiropractic adjustments are generally understood to be a safe, effective and low cost way to address low back pain. Decreasing the low back pain and adding more movement into the body may also result in less depression and an improved stress response.
Movement / Exercise: Simply moving has been shown to improve low back pain and decrease depression. It really doesn't matter how you move or what you choose to do for exercise, any form of movement is better than none. Walk, lift weights, dance, stretch, mow the lawn, chase the kids, bike, play with the pup, play catch with a friend, swim at the beach, just do something!
Improve Your Diet: What you choose to eat directly affects how your body rebuilds itself. You are what you eat. Choosing real, whole foods over ultra processed foods can and will affect your pain and your mood.
Specific Stretching: Many of the patients I see who experience low back pain have tight glutes or hamstrings. When our muscle tension is imbalanced, the muscles that attach to the pelvis may pull enough to result in low back pain. Here are my favorite stretches for low back pain.
Gratitude Journal: There is promising research on expressing gratitude, thanks or journalling to improve depressive symptoms.
Regardless of how you manage your pain, it is a sign of something being wrong. The same goes for depressive symptoms. These are signals from your body, to your brain that you need help in some way, shape or form. If you are unable to manage it yourself, please seek help. If it doesn't work, try something or someone else! We all respond to various treatments differently and it may be a combination of a few you need to really get to the root cause.