Common Stressors That Cause Back Pain: What to Know

By Dr. Drew Voelsch

Back pain is a common ailment that affects people of all ages and professions. While the causes of back pain can vary, stress is often a significant contributor. Stress can take many forms, including physical, emotional, and mental stress, and can be caused by various factors such as work, relationships, finances, and health issues. 

Understanding the most common stressors that cause back pain can help individuals identify and manage their symptoms effectively. In this article, we will discuss the most common stressors that lead to back pain and provide tips to manage and alleviate this discomfort.

Physical Stressors That Affect Your Back

1. Poor Posture

Sitting or standing for long periods in a slouched or hunched position can put pressure on your spine and cause back pain.

2. Lifting Heavy Objects

Lifting heavy objects can strain your back muscles and cause pain or injury.

3. Repetitive Motions

Performing repetitive motions such as bending, twisting, or reaching can cause back pain over time.

4. Lack of Exercise

A sedentary lifestyle can weaken your back muscles, making them more prone to injury and pain.

Emotional and Mental Stressors

1. Anxiety

Anxiety can cause muscle tension, including in the back muscles, leading to pain and discomfort.

2. Depression

Depression can cause physical symptoms, including back pain, as the body responds to emotional stress.

3. Stressful Life Events

Significant life events such as divorce, job loss, or the death of a loved one can cause emotional stress, leading to physical symptoms like back pain.

4. Poor Sleep

Lack of sleep can contribute to emotional stress and cause muscle tension and pain in the back.

Psychological Stress and Back Pain

Psychological stress can cause back pain by triggering the body’s natural stress response. When stressed, the body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can cause muscles to tense up and tighten. This tension can lead to muscle spasms and pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. Additionally, stress can negatively affect sleep, leading to fatigue and increased pain sensitivity. Chronic stress can also lead to inflammation in the body, which can exacerbate pain and contribute to the development of chronic pain conditions.

Treatment for Stress-Related Back Pain

1. Practice Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce stress and muscle tension.

2. Exercise

Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve overall physical health, which can alleviate back pain.

3. Get Enough Sleep

Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night to help reduce stress and promote muscle relaxation.

4. Seek Professional Help

Talk therapy or counseling can help address underlying psychological stressors that may be contributing to back pain.

5. Consider Alternative Therapies

Massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic care may offer relief for back pain related to stress.

6. Take Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or acetaminophen may offer temporary relief for back pain. However, it is important to not rely on these medications long-term without consulting a healthcare professional.


Back pain is a common health issue faced by people of all ages and can significantly impair their daily activities and quality of life. Stress is a major contributor to back pain, as it causes muscle tension and poor posture, and increases the risk of injury. The most common stressors that cause back pain include poor work ergonomics, financial stress, relationship problems, and personal health issues. 

It is essential to manage stress effectively to prevent and alleviate back pain. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits, seeking professional help, and practicing relaxation techniques can significantly reduce stress levels and prevent back pain. Overall, understanding the connection between stress and back pain can help individuals take proactive measures to manage their stress and maintain a healthy back.

If you are looking for an Arlington Heights chiropractor, contact Hawkeye Chiropractic. We are a full-service chiropractic center led by Dr. Drew Voelsch, a leading Chiropractor in the local area.