Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mental Illness and Back Pain

I came across this article and thought some of you might be interested. As you know, DH has struggled with severe back pain that very closely corresponds to his instability. Since all of the doctors he's ever seen, including the ones that he was when he was hospitalized for mental illness only prescribed pain killers and ordered scans, I found it exciting to see that some researchers are recognizing this connection.

Here's a link to the full article:
Click here to read the full article

The Mind-body issue

Most people think that the mind and the body are separate and function independently. Instead, these two usually work together in shaping our experiences. Sometimes psychological factors can reduce or eliminate the effects of physical problems. For example, one line of research asked normal volunteers (that is, people who have never complained of chronic back pain) to undergo imaging procedures such as CT scans or MRI scans. Surprisingly, about 40% of these subjects had ruptured disks, pinched nerves, cracked vertebrae, or some other form of physical problem that should have produced significant back pain, but didn't. On the other end of the spectrum, there are some rare cases of conversion disorder: a psychiatric condition where the person feels chronic back pain, but there is no identifiable physical problem at all. In most cases, though, chronic back pain is a psychosomatic (literally, "mind-body") condition, where a real physical problem exists, but psychological factors play a large role in determining the person's experience of that problem. In some cases, mental processes such as dependence, depression, or frustration may make the pain worse; in other cases, a positive attitude and a sense of independence may lessen the pain.


Immi said...

I'm not surprised. I had a chronic neurological pain problem that doubled me over for two years before I got my bipolar treated properly. Then it went away and now only gives me twinges when I'm having a really rough time mentally. I'm grateful it's just twinges at this point. Since my meds (anticonvulsants) are also used for neurological pain at times, there's no telling if they fixed it because of that or because they fixed the bipolar right darned well. I hope DH can find something that gives him relief from both though.

perphila said...

I saw the same things with Sean and now my son. Back aches, head aches, sore muscles. I know I think there is a connection but who am I right? :)

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TMS Back Pain said...

I believe the majority of back pain is due to mental stress and in particular, TMS or tension myositis syndrome.

Dr. John Sarno first came up with this diagnosis and it's quite fascinating.