Psychosomatic Pain and Anxiety- Why my back pain has gone

Hi guys if you read my new year post (if not you can read it here) you will notice I mentioned that my back pain has gone. Before I explain how and why it’s gone I will give you a back story (no pun intended) of when it all began and what I went through.

Back Pain 2017

So back in about March time of 2017 I started to feel a pain in my lower back, I had felt this pain before but it usually only lasted a day and was due to over exerting myself (extreme cleaning or exercise). However this time the pain wasn’t going away it was present everyday and was made worse when I tried to do any cleaning, too much walking and sitting at my desk.

I went to the doctors and they advised me to do no exercise for two weeks and to use an ibuprofen gel. After two weeks I was still in pain and went back to the doctors, this time seeing someone different she advised that I shouldn’t be in pain for this long and requested an MRI and gave me some exercises to do. The request was denied via the NHS as they didn’t think my symptoms warranted an MRI. I then used my private health insurance from work to get an MRI done, the results came back fine and they were unable to identify what was causing the pain. I was then sent for physio and given exercises to do but they also didn’t help.

Finally getting an answer

Fast forward to November 2017 and the pain was becoming unbearable I wasn’t able to do anything at the weekends and spent it on the sofa with a hot water bottle. I decided to go back to the doctors again to see if I could get some stronger pain killers as the over- the-counter stuff was not helping. Again I saw a different doctor, he took a look at the results from my MRI and all the blood tests I had and said that they had not found anything physically wrong with me and that I was pretty healthy. He then prescribed me some medication, but at first didn’t tell me what they were but believed that they would help. He prescribed me beta-blockers for anxiety as he believed that the pain was caused by stress. Within a few days, my pain has disappeared and I was feeling a lot better.

Psychosomatic Pain

After two weeks of taking the medication I went back to the doctors as I had been signed off work to see if I was fit to go back. I asked him to explain how the pain had gone away, he explained that it was caused by my mind and that because I was getting frustrated with the fact I couldn’t do anything I was prolonging it and increasing the severity. Looking back I have always been a person who gets stressed easily (my mum would call me a drama queen) due to issues with work and home I had become very stressed without realising it. I had no idea that the mind was capable of causing so much pain.

Beta- Blocker and Anxiety

Beta- blockers work by elevating the symptoms of anxiety which includes slowing down your heart rate. I would never of thought that I was someone who suffered from anxiety as I associated it with the more serve symptoms like panic attacks and not being able to leave the house. However general anxiety includes the following symptoms (taken from the NHS Website):

  • Restlessness
  • A sense of dread
  • Feeling constantly “on edge”
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability

This was basically me for most of 2017, I was restless when watching TV and couldn’t just relax even at the weekends. I dreaded waking up the morning as I didn’t know what pain I was going to be in or what I was going to face when I got into work. I constantly felt on edge and would snap and get irritated at people or get annoyed about little things. I had difficulty concentrating at work due to the pain in my back and would make silly mistakes.

General anxiety can also cause physical symptoms including the following (taken from NHS Website)

  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • a noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
  • muscle aches and tension
  • trembling or shaking
  • dry mouth
  • excessive sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • stomach ache
  • feeling sick
  • headache
  • pins and needles
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia)

Luckily I did not have all these symptoms, however I did experience tiredness which I just put down to lack of sleep rather than anything else. Muscle aches and tension was of course my back pain and I also suffered from stomach aches which I put down to an intolerance to food however the doctors could not find anything wrong within me either. I also have a difficulty falling asleep as silly thoughts would race through my mind, thinking that the worst would happen. Since taking the tablets I have noticed that I can get to sleep easier and I don’t feel as tired in the day.

Dealing with Stress

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In a few months time, I hope to come of the medication as I don’t want to become dependent on it. My aim this year is to learn new coping mechanisms for when I feel myself getting stressed/ anxious. By talking to my friends about it, I have already learnt some techniques and they have been very supportive. I realise now that I was worrying and stressing about things that were out of my control and in turn making my self sick. This year I want to focus on me and dealing with the things that I have got control over and letting go of things. For now I am staying on the medication to allow my body to recover from so many months of stress and allow me to exercise and get fit again.

If any of you have any tips or would like to share your story I would love to hear about it in the comments.

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