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Is Most Back Pain Caused by Repressed Emotions?

Back pain is perhaps one of the most common health complaints across the globe. Worldwide, 1 in 10 people suffers from lower back pain, and it's the No. 1 cause of job disability. In the U.S., a whopping $90 billion is spent on back pain each year.1 Tragically, back pain is also a leading cause of opioid use, which now kills more Americans than car crashes.2

Seventy-five to 80 percent of back pain cases do resolve within two to four weeks,3 with or without treatment, although it's important to note that back pain can also be symptomatic of something else entirely, including an aortic aneurysm, appendicitis, gynecological issues, osteoporosis, arthritis and kidney stones,4 so if your back pain is not the result of an injury or strain, it's advisable to see a doctor for an assessment.

Few people want to be told that their pain is psychological or emotional in origin, but there's quite a bit of evidence that backs this up. As noted in a 2014 scientific review:5

"Specifically with regard to pain, studies pointed to the need for a model encompassing the complexity of the pain phenomenon. The biopsychosocial perspective closes this gap by confirming the existence of a dynamic relationship among biological changes, psychological status and social context.

The difficulty to accept the multidimensional nature of pain is largely linked to the widespread acceptance of Cartesian principles separating mind from body. Conversely, the biopsychosocial approach tries to consider physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspects not separately, but as an integrated whole … [S]everal studies show the major role of biopsychosocial factors in triggering chronic pain, in the process of acute pain chronicity and in patients' incapacity."

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