The Stress Effect: How Stress Causes Back Pain and How to Treat It

People often wonder if stress truly can lead to back problems, or if it is simply psychosomatic. The basic answer is both. Stress is not only psychological but also physical. So, how does this effect a person’s back health?


Most people have experienced the usual tightening in their upper back and neck when undergoing periods of stress. These are two of the most common symptoms but others may include:

  • Interrupted Sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Diffuse Muscle Aches
  • Muscle Tenderness

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but these symptoms are often indicators of stress-induced back pain.


As is the case with any serious or lingering back pain, you should see a medical professional as early as possible. Back issues caused from stress often fall in to the category of “self-diagnosis”, with the afflicted simply assuming that once their stress is alleviated, their pain will be as well. However, it is not always that easy. Perhaps what a person dismisses as stress induced pain is actually a serious medical condition. Another issue with this self-diagnostic approach is when pain goes untreated for an extended period of time, it can

Even if you believe your back issues are related to stress, undergoing a thorough medical examination is worth your time. This may not eliminate your stress, but it can detect any serious problem that may be developing and a medical professional could provide various treatments to help decrease discomfort. If stress related back pain is responded to early and appropriately, sometimes all that may be needed to eliminate discomfort are supplements or certain medications.develop into more serious issues such as a disc bulge.

When experiencing what you believe to be stress related back pain, follow these steps to prevent more serious problems:

  • Seek medical attention from a back and spine specialist.
  • Ask your doctor if receiving an MRI would be appropriate for your condition.
  • Stretch – Performing various stretching exercises for your neck, shoulders, and back can help reduce pain and relieve tension built up in these areas.
  • Exercise – Exercising has an immediate positive effect on psychological stress and it can also help ease back pain.