If you suffer from chronic low back pain, have you ever instinctively stopped yourself from bending in a certain way because you know it’s going to hurt? Virtually everyone with back pain has, and while it may seem harmless or even protective, this hesitation is actually detrimental to your back health.
Fearing the suffering linked to a particular movement does, in fact, prompt people to change the way they move, according to new research published in The Spine Journal.[i] Over time, such avoidance of movement can cause you to lose mobility, which allows the pain to persist.
It’s a vicious cycle that can significantly impact your ability to function from day to day … and it all starts with fear.
How Fear Can Cause You Pain and Loss of Mobility
Researchers revealed that the stronger a person’s fear of pain, the more rigid their muscles became. In people with chronic low back pain, most had already-stiff muscles in their backs, which likely got that way over time; in other words, their fear of pain lead to changes in the way they moved along with muscle stiffness that turned chronic.
The researchers explained:
“Repeated exposure to pain appears to generate rigid and less variable patterns of muscle activation in patients with chronic LBP [low back pain], which attenuate their response to pain expectations.”
Interestingly, when researchers reassured study participants before a painful event, they felt less pain. As reported by Science Daily,[ii] simply relieving your fear of the pain may therefore have profound physical benefits:
“Hence, it seems that the first pain-reliever to be administered to a patient suffering from acute [low back pain]… should be a generous dose of reassuring words, in order to prevent the illness from becoming chronic.”
“Pain-Related Fear is More Disabling Than Pain Itself”
Such was the conclusion of a study in the journal Pain,[iii] which again revealed that people with the highest measures of pain-related fear also had the highest levels of self-reported disability.
Fear is also thought to be deeply involved in people’s individual perceptions of pain, with those with greater fear suffering from correspondingly greater levels of pain.[iv] At the Association for Psychological Science 24th Annual Convention, several experts in the field expanded on the role fear plays in pain, labeling it as a key cause of chronic pain:[v]
“People go to great lengths to avoid pain. And that avoidance, ironically, may be a cause of chronic pain.
When a person is injured, they begin to associate the injury with the activity that caused it, and they will avoid that activity — and other activities. In the short term, avoidance may promote healing, but over time, fear of pain may actually initiate chronic pain, leading to disability and depression.
… Researchers have shown that the anterior insula, a portion of the cerebral cortex that has been shown to be connected to awareness of body states, is active when individuals experience pain. Also, this region is more active when they perceive a high threat of pain. Connections have also been found between regions associated with pain and regions shown to be involved in processing fear and memory.”
Interestingly, so-called ‘exposure therapy,’ in which patients are exposed to activities they’ve been avoiding due to pain, has been shown to help reduce pain and restore mobility. So, too, has simply offering reassurance prior to a perceived painful event.
Don’t Let Your Fears Keep You Sidelined
Are you caught in the vicious fear-pain cycle? Is a fear of your back pain causing you to avoid certain movements? And has that avoidance lead to increased stiffness, lack of mobility and even more pain?
Please let me help ease your fears … here at the Healthy Back Institute I’ve helped thousands of people overcome back pain, including very extreme cases, in our ten-plus year history … you WILL be okay, you do NOT have to live with the pain … if you follow this process …
1. Apply Soothing Deep Heat
When you’re in pain, or when you fear you’re going to be in pain, apply far-infrared heat wherever you’re sore. This is no ordinary heating pad! The far-infrared rays (FIR) lead to vibration effects at the molecular level, which improves transportation of oxygen and nutrients, ultimately helping to support regeneration and healing.[vi] The thermal effect of deep heat on your tissues causes blood vessels in capillaries to dilate, which improves blood circulation and promotes pain-relief healing and wellness.
FIR penetrates your skin as deep as 3 inches, compared to just 2-3 millimeters of other pads. This is why FIR heat is so completely different from conventional heat … and why FIR’s energy is able to reach deep into your body, zero in on your pain, and speed natural healing. Even better, because the heat is deep heat, the soothing relief lasts. This is the first step to relieving your fear of pain because, once you use it, you’ll know that relief is at your fingertips within minutes …
2. Inflammation-Fighting Proteolytic Enzymes
Once your pain is soothed and your fears begin to subside, you’ll take further comfort in knowing that you’re working on healing the root cause of most pain: chronic inflammation. Proteolytic enzymes have an unsurpassed ability to fight chronic inflammation and underlying pain, operating on a “lock-and-key” basis, which means they can recognize good prostaglandins from bad prostaglandins (prostaglandins are hormone-like substances involved in inflammation).
When proteolytic enzymes’ teeth fit into a ‘bad’ prostaglandin that’s already run its course and has no more use, they dispose of it to let the GOOD prostaglandin come in and get rid of the pain.
Proteolytic enzymes are naturally produced in your pancreas, but your natural production declines with age. Fortunately, there’s Heal-n-Soothe, the best systemic enzyme formula to replenish your body’s supply of these vital enzymes, plus supply you with nearly a dozen other natural anti-inflammatory ingredients.
You will soon see, as many thousands of former pain sufferers like you already have, that you don’t have to live with pain. Please let me put your fears to rest … and your pain will soon follow.
Written By: Updated: November 13,2013
2 thoughts on “Fear Feeds Your Physical Pain (new study!)”
Does this fear of pain also apply to leg pain (in calf) and someone walking differently to avoid potential pain?
Both Fear and Stress can cause pain, any where in the body including both muscle and joints… Some experts have called this TMS or Tension Myositis Syndrome and in different people the pain appears in different places…
Now while this TMS is real there and you pain is real, their maybe other contributing factors for why anyone person has pain, so please make sure you seek medical help to make sure you fully understand what is happening to your body…