Managing The Mental Side of Spinal Injuries

Category: Spinal Cord Injury | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Insomnia Back Pain

After a traumatic injury, the physical ailment gets most of the attention, and rightfully so. However, that doesn’t mean we should overlook other ways in which the spinal injury could affect your health, most notably your mental health. In today’s blog, we’re going to take a closer look at the importance of caring for your mental health as you recover from a spinal injury, and how to do just that.

Mental Stress And Spinal Injuries

The mental stress that a physical injury can put on a person is immense, especially when that injury is to your spine or back. We rely so heavily on our spines for so many movements, and if an injury is making these movements painful or impossible to perform, it can really affect a person’s psyche.

For example, a recent survey out of Europe found that upwards of a third of people left disabled by a spinal cord injury have had suicidal thoughts, and a person’s risk for depression also increases after a spinal cord injury. Oftentimes so much attention is paid to helping the person regain as much physical function as possible after a devastating spine injury that it can be easy to overlook the mental strain such an injury can put on a person. Mental health needs to be treated as seriously if not more seriously in the wake of a spinal cord injury in order to help a person best recover following a devastating injury.

And this advice isn’t just tailored to individuals who may never walk again because of a spinal cord injury. Spine pain is extremely prevalent in the US, and if it’s limiting your ability to live your life to the fullest, it can lead to mental conditions like anxiety and depression. Acknowledging the mental strain that a back injury is putting on your body is important in treating the totality of the issue. But how can you care for your mental health after a spinal injury? More on that below.

Caring For Your Mental Health After A Back Injury

There’s no perfect playbook for taking care of your mental health following a spinal injury, but there are some things you’ll want to consider if you find yourself struggling to overcome mental issues throughout your recovery. Some of those things include:

  • Consistently getting enough sleep each night
  • Improving your diet
  • Challenging your brain with puzzles, books or other stimulating activities
  • Regular exercise
  • Talking with family or friends about anything other than your injury
  • Doing your rehab exercises
  • Sharing your concerns with someone who will listen, or a support group
  • Journaling about your experience and your progress

And of course, the single best thing you can do if you’re struggling with a mental health issue while you’re trying to overcome a physical injury is to talk to your doctor about what you’re going through. Ask questions, ask for advice, or just tell them what’s been bothering you. They’ll be able to provide some recommendations or set you up with a specialist who focuses on mental health aspects to ensure your physical and mental health are progressing in a healthy manner.

We strive to inform all of our patients about the mental toll that a physical injury can have on them, but sometimes it’s not real until people start to experience it for themselves, and everyone responds differently in these situations. Just know that you have allies and resources at your disposal if you just reach out to our team. Even if we didn’t provide care for your spinal injury, we can help get you the mental health help that you deserve. For more information or for help with your back pain, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and the team at the Midwest Spine & Brain Institute today.

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