February 16, 2021
I was inspired to write this blog after a run with my friend. During our run she said she was worried about a family member who has anxiety and depression. As I listened, it made me reflect how the family member’s struggles sound very similar to those that our patients with ongoing back pain describe when they first attend physio. It is no wonder there is such a strong connection between back pain, anxiety and depression.
I recognise that all of this is a lot easier to say (and write) than do, but!! One of the most important – and reassuring – things to remember if you are suffering from ongoing back pain or anxiety is that they are feelings that you are going through and are not necessarily labels that will stick.
The levels of anxiety or back pain a person experiences will vary and they are not permanent. They can go up and down. However, both can make you want to avoid certain behaviours, both are mentally exhausting and both have the capability to make you want to give up.
The good news is that they can be positively influenced. By approaching one day at a time, asking for a little more each time, starts moving you forward. On the bad days it is important to acknowledge what and how you are feeling but remember that these feelings do not have to dictate your choice of behaviours.
We encourage using a technique called graded exposure as the best approach for both. This is where you slowly build up your capability and tolerance to your triggering activities. You then work towards the bigger goal of you taking control of your activity levels, rather than being dictated by your anxiety or back pain.
Surround yourself with people who will champion you, encourage you when you need it and remind you to go steady when you get ahead of yourself. So much of the “Physiotherapy” I do is actually coaching, helping patient’s move into a mindset where they trust their body to work for them, not against them, and deliver what they want to achieve.
Get in touch if we can help you start your rehabilitative journey. We can create a programme just for you, coach you on pacing and teach you techniques to manage your pain on good and bad days.