1. Home
  2. /
  3. Conditions
  4. /
  5. Low Back Pain
  6. /
  7. Stress, Nutrition and Sleep

How stress, poor nutrition and adverse sleep can worsen pain?

Believe it or not, pain is not a sensation. Pain is a protective response from the brain when it senses stimuli it interprets as dangerous. Think of pain as like an alarm. Under normal circumstances, we can open doors, play loud music and walk around our homes without an alarm being trigged. Now picture someone who has had their house burglarized. Odds are, their threshold for their alarming being triggered is much lower than someone who has never had their home broken into. Now, small changes such as the wind blowing into the home or a dog barking maybe enough to trigger this person’s alarm.

The same thing occurs with pain. Outside of “tissue damage,” factors such as sleep, emotional distress (anxiety, depression, etc.), poor nutrition, a long-term history of pain and more can decrease the threshold for when one’s “pain alarm” is triggered.

In conclusion, pain is a response from the brain in response to stimuli perceived as threatening. Contextual factors such as patient experiences, expectations and overall well-being do influence pain.


  1. Louw, Adriaan et al. “A Clinical Perspective On A Pain Neuroscience Education Approach To Manual Therapy”. Journal Of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, vol 25, no. 3, 2017, pp. 160-168. Informa UK Limited, https://doi.org/10.1080/10669817.2017.1323699.

Related Articles