How to Beat Chronic Back Pain and Depression: The Bad Back Guy

by coachz on April 3, 2009

Chronic Back Pain and Depression Together Create a Black Hole in the Life of the Individual Suffering from Neck Pain, Back Pain, and/or Sciatica

Chronic back pain is a condition that affects millions of Americans every year. Chronic pain of any kind leads to depression in as high as 85% of all individuals diagnosed with the disorder. Chronic back pain may result from any number of factors and is in fact one of the least understood conditions affecting millions of back pain and sciatica sufferers worldwide. The often insidious and frequently misunderstood complex of chronic back pain and depression leads to its own set of conditions and consequences. The combination of depression and chronic pain often leads to total disability, with little hope of a real solution or cure.

Two Categories of Pain

Back pain, in fact pain in general, often falls into one of two categories. The two types of pain are nociceptive pain and neuropathy or neuropathic pain. Nociceptive pain is sensed by what are called nociceptor sensory fibers. Neuropathic pain or neuropathy is a term used to describe damage to a nerve or nerve tissue. With nociceptive pain, messages are sent to the brain signaling an injury to the skin, muscles, connective tissue such as ligaments and tendons, bones and joints or other vital organs. Nociceptive pain may be described in terms of trauma or a specific injury that often heals with time and treatment. Examples of this type of pain include the pain after spine surgery, the pain due to a fall or an accident, stubbing your toe, and arthritis pain, just to name a few. Neuropathy or neuropathic pain is generally a deep sensation, whether aching, throbbing or soreness. Neuropathy is generally associated with back pain and sciatica but may also indicate damage in other areas, such as pain in the neck extending into the shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers. It is believed that in cases where the nociceptive pain is prolonged, with no clear resolution or outcome, it may evolve or progress into neuropathic pain. It is not uncommon for a patient to have a constellation of conditions in which both categories, both classifications of pain are present.

Acute and Chronic Pain: Understanding the Differences

Within the context of nociceptive pain and neuropathy, there are gradations of pain ranging from mild to acute and from short term or abrupt manifestations to a chronic, long term state. While pain is a subjective state and classification next to impossible, we will define pain as falling into one of two basic expressions, acute and chronic. Acute pain and chronic pain are very different, not only in terms of the actual sensation or expression, but in terms what the sensation or sensations are “telling” us, as well. Acute pain generally reflects the degree of damage at a specific location on or in the body. In cases of acute pain, there is a positive correlation, a relationship, between the sensation and the amount of actual damage. As a result, pain is considered a protective mechanism, an adaptive response allowing us to remove the cause or cease the behavior, thus interrupting the pain and minimizing the damage. Thus, acute pain is an expression of nociceptive pain. Chronic pain, on the other hand, does not send the same message acute pain does. Nor is chronic pain protective or adaptive, it serves no real biological function either. In fact, you could almost say that the signal is a mistake. The reason? Chronic pain, or neuropathic pain, continues to send impulses to the brain long after the event is over and there is no longer tissue damage to report.

Chronic Pain and Depression

It is chronic back pain, with no clear causality, pathology or otherwise, that is so difficult to treat and leads so many of its sufferers into depression, debilitation, and disability. Depression and chronic back pain are inextricably linked and treatment is difficult, if not impossible. The typical chronic pain sufferer with depression also experiences a loss of appetite, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and a myriad of other mental and physical maladies, all linked back to chronic back pain. Unfortunately, it is at this point the pain management practitioner usually steps in and medicates the patient with an amazing array of narcotics, exacerbating the situation further. Now we have an individual suffering from chronic back pain and depression, probably disabled and unable to work; and, if he or she does work, they have been completely marginalized by the stigma and their inability to function at optimal levels. The addition of narcotics serves to fully debilitate the chronic pain sufferer, usually addicting them to pain medication in the process. The spiral continues downward into worsening depression, hopelessness, loss of identity, loss of self-esteem, and, very possibly, loss of everything around them that was ever important to them.

The Failures in and of Pain Management

Pretty grim, huh? Well, it’s not without hope and certainly not without resolution. However, it takes a concerted effort including, at times, treatment to get off the pain medication. But it can be done! More and more chronic pain sufferers every day are seeking alternative “bad back” or chronic back pain treatment strategies. Many people suffering from the devastating and deadly complex of chronic pain and depression, addicted to narcotics, are starting to understand that traditional pain management, with its “let’s thrown medication at it” mentality is a black hole from which, if not fully extricated from in time, will completely suck the life out of the individual at risk, literally and figuratively.

The Alternative for the Chronic Back Pain Sufferer: Hope for thee Future

The program? Exercise, get off the medication, education, and re-entry into your life. Sounds simple but it’s not. The chronic back pain may continue for quite a while and medication may be required to alleviate the symptoms of depression. However, if an individual really wants help, it is available. The result may be a new life, one far from the devastating reality of the old one. Exercise, get off the meds, education, and re-entry. Stare with a good, individualized exercise program, get treatment if necessary to get off the pain killers, go back to school or begin to educate yourself, it does wonders for your self-esteem, and re-enter your life, become involved with your family again, with friends, with your dog if you have one. And then? Take life as it comes, one day at a time, as they say. The results will be worth it. The journey?


For additional resources dealing with neck pain, back pain, and sciatica, including additional treatment plans and a community for support; an awesome resource for New Balance running shoes, great for heel cushioning and a must for anyone suffering from neck pain, back pain, and/or sciatica; ice-compression braces, crucial for inflammation and swelling; orthotics for the times when the New Balance can’t be worn; and, natural anti-inflammatories for the back pain complex:

For more information and several intelligent programs of treatment and exercise for chronic back pain sufferers, programs that work for neck pain, back pain, sciatica, and posterior pelvic pain, guaranteed, go to:


Don’t let the above names fool you, these are comprehensive programs dealing with all aspects of the back pain complex, to include pain caused by pregnancy!

For additional information and more links to excellent back treatment and exercise programs; a resource for New Balance running shoes, awesome for heel cushioning, necessary for anyone experiencing back pain and sciatica (see the side panel); ice compression braces, for the times when swelling and inflammation are at their worst (see the side panel); orthotics for support and cushioning, great when you are carrying extra weight (WalkFit on side panel); and, natural anti-inflammatories, also for joint and bone health (see side panel); or go to:

Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr., The Back Back Guy
Skype: johnzajaros1

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Everette Cazzell December 22, 2009 at 4:59 pm

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D V March 2, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Back Extensions will also help. The movement will target your lower back. Lie down on the floor with your hands behind your head. Then lift your chest off the ground. Hold for 1 second. Increase the intensity by lifting your legs at the same time.

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