How Back Injuries Can Affect Your Mental Health

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 17, 2019

Back Injury Mental Health

Back pain can affect your life in a number of ways. It can make work painful, it can prevent you from partaking in some recreational activities that you love, and it can also disrupt your ability to get restful sleep. According to research, back pain can also have a significant effect on our mental health. These findings suggest that in order to fully treat back problems, we also need to consider the patient’s mental state alongside their physical symptoms.

Back Pain and Mental Health Disorders

To better understand the link between spine pain and mental health disorders, researchers conducted a study involving nearly 200,000 participants with back pain across 43 different countries, making it the largest such study of its type to date. Study participants were also asked about a number of mental health factors, like stress or depression. When comparing their answers to a control group, researchers found:

  • Individuals with back pain were more than twice as likely to experience one of the five tracked mental health conditions compared to the control group (anxiety, depression, psychosis, stress and sleep deprivation).
  • Individuals with chronic back pain were three times more likely to experience a depressive episode and 2.6 times more likely to experience psychosis.
  • The findings were similar across all countries, regardless of the individual’s socioeconomic status.
  • An earlier study also found that patients with chronic neck or back pain were at a heightened risk for mood disorders, alcohol abuse and anxiety disorders.

“Our data shows that both back pain and chronic back pain are associated with an increased likelihood of depression, psychosis, anxiety, stress and sleep disturbances,” researchers wrote. “This suggests that back pain has important mental health implications which may make recovery from back pain more challenging. Further research is required to find out more about the links between these problems and to ensure effective treatments can be developed. It is also important that healthcare professionals are made aware of this link to refer patients to other services if necessary.”

The last point is perhaps the biggest takeaway of the study, as it’s imperative the doctors and medical professionals understand that back pain isn’t always just a physical issue that can be solved with standard treatments. Back pain oftentimes need to be treated with a comprehensive approach that involves multiple treatments for the physical ailment, like physical therapy, exercise and weight loss, alongside treatments for the mental health symptoms the condition has caused. Some examples include increased patient education, cognitive behavioral therapy or counseling sessions with a mental health professional. There’s no guarantee that the mental health effects will clear up if the back pain condition resolves, so we need to be cognizant of how a dual treatment approach could best help our patients.

If you believe your back pain is contributing to your depression, anxiety or other mood disorder, talk to a back specialist about how you can begin treating all issues. We’d be more than happy to provide you with a comprehensive diagnosis and get you back on track to full mental and physical health. Contact our office today.

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