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Can Anxiety Cause A Sore Back?


Back pain is something that a lot of us struggle with either with tense or sore muscles, or with joint issues. Whilst there are many possible causes of back pain, it has been linked as a physical symptom anxiety. This being said, anxiety has many possible physical symptoms with each individual being affected differently.


As with a lot of physical symptoms of anxiety, the triggers lie within our caveman brain. This is the survival-driven part of our brain that our newer, rational cortex grew on top of. Its primary concern is keeping us alive, so when our brain perceives a threat, it releases these stress chemicals and activates a response called the fight, flight or freeze response. The stress hormone cortisol or the chemical adrenaline are released and this puts our body on high alert, and as a result, our body prepares to either fight, flight or freeze. 


Why Does Anxiety Cause A Sore Back?

There are a couple of reasons as to why anxiety might cause back pain, the first being that when our brain activates our fight, flight or freeze response our muscles tend to tighten, primed to flee or strike. In small doses this is completely fine, but if this is happening a lot or for prolonged periods of time, when the perceived threat, the affected muscles, including those in the back, might feel sore – much like the feeling you experience the day after a tough workout.


Another reason is that when our body constantly releases excess amounts of cortisol and adrenaline like when we’re stressed, our entire body becomes hypersensitive and hyperstimulated. This means that we’re more likely to pick up on any slight twinge or spasm and become more aware of it, believing it to be worse than it maybe is. 


How Can I Stop This Symptom?

To help alleviate back pain caused by stress or anxiety you can try some light stretches and breathing exercises to calm your nervous system and loosen the muscles and joints back up. Back pain can be quite a worrying symptom to experience, so if you are concerned please contact your doctor. 


Of course, in order to prevent the symptoms of anxiety occurring in the first place, you need to manage or build strategies to tackle your anxiety. There are several options available including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), mindfulness, medication and group therapy. If you’re unsure, please contact your GP for more information.