The Emotional Impact of Spinal Stenosis: Managing Stress and Anxiety

Spinal Stenosis can be very severe in some cases and impact a person’s well-being and happiness. Such a condition can impact a person’s sleep, social life, career, and family life, causing excess stress and anxiety which could even lead to depression.


In this article, we will look at the emotional impact of spinal stenosis and provide tips and advice on managing stress and anxiety to lead a happier and more relaxed life. Unlike most spinal stenosis guides, we will skip past the medical aspects and the different types of spinal stenosis treatment surgery that you are likely aware of, focusing just on the mental ramifications of the condition. 

Spinal Stenosis: What is it?

As the spine is designed to protect the spinal cord, the connection between the brain and the rest of the body. Anything that comes into contact with this vital transmitter can cause a range of unwanted symptoms. Spinal stenosis involves the narrowing of the spinal canal, the area that the spinal cord runs along. This means the spinal cord and surrounding nerves can become compressed.


This can result in back and lower body pain, as well as other sensations including weakness in the legs. In some cases, spinal stenosis can also cause bladder and bowel dysfunction. 

Usually, spinal stenosis is the result of wear and tear and most commonly affects people who are over 50. However, this condition can affect anyone of any age, with possible causes including spinal fractures, spinal tumors, scoliosis (spinal curvature), or a chemical imbalance such as a person producing excess calcium or fluoride. 

The Connection Between Back Pain and Emotions

The way humans respond to pain is very complex. The psychological process responds to the occurrence in your body that is causing pain and decides on the level of pain, while also taking into account factors such as a person’s current emotions and feelings. If a person is in a poor state of mind, then the level of pain can increase. 

If a person has a negative mindset at the moment in time or is struggling to think about anything other than the source of pain then it is likely that the symptoms will worsen, creating a vicious cycle. Pain can also increase when a person is feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed, making it harder to recover from an issue due to mental barriers. 

People can also become overly reliant on medications and treatments, and should the body build up a tolerance to these treatments, a person can start to feel down about their situation, thus, making it worse. 

The Importance Of Managing Emotions If You Have Spinal Stenosis

By managing their feelings, a person can have a positive impact on their back pain to help them return to a normal way of life and maintain a better well-being. Often referred to as psychological therapy, there are a wide range of methods and treatments to better manage emotions and reduce stress and anxiety. 

In its simplest form, this can be achieved by altering your actions and behavior to take a different approach to pain management. Trying new things and avoiding bad habits. Although it may be difficult, taking steps to have a more positive outlook on things can also have a significant impact and allow you to take steps forward in overcoming back pain. 

Combined with medical treatments and a healthier lifestyle, taking a more balanced and positive outlook on how you deal with spinal stenosis can assist your body in managing pain responses.

Therapy For Spinal Stenosis

Talking to a therapist can have a great impact on a person’s mental health and emotional well-being, as well as assisting in pain management. There are two main types of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

CBT therapy focuses on making the patient think differently about how they deal with and react to the pain, helping a person take a different approach to their usual responses and daily routine.  ACT, on the other hand, is designed to help a person accept their current situation and make positive changes to improve it. These therapies can be delivered in one-on-one situations or in a group setting, depending on the patient’s preferences. 

Creating a clear pain management strategy is a significant step and can help to remove obstacles that may make it difficult to overcome pain, such as an over-reliance on painkillers or a reluctance to exercise regularly. Therapy can highlight any negative thinking that a person may have about their current situation and suggest ways to work past these issues in a way that makes sense. 

CBT and ACT can also be delivered alongside relaxation therapy that focuses on breathing exercises that can reduce muscle tension and ease pain. However, it should be noted that therapy and psychological pain management is only one part of the jigsaw and anyone with spinal stenosis should always consult with a medical professional who can recommend physical treatments. 

How To Improve Mental Wellbeing

A large part of improving a person’s well-being is taking measures to alter previous negative ways of thinking. Of course, this is often easier said than done but by refraining from negative thoughts a person can avoid following regular patterns that leave them feeling stressed and unhappy. 


It is recommended to always be in the present and to enjoy your current surroundings and the people in your life, without dwelling on past negativities. Take time to connect with friends and family as much as possible, while also taking time to focus on yourself and think about the future. This could involve starting a new hobby such as writing, sketching, or painting. 

Finally, ensuring you get a good night’s sleep is essential in maintaining a healthy mind and body. The importance of maintaining a balanced diet that avoids fatty, fried, and processed foods also cannot be understated when trying to improve your mental state. 

Thanks for reading. We hope you have found the contents of this article useful and informative and we wish you luck in managing your spinal stenosis symptoms and improving your well-being.