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5 Ways Inflation Could Be Making Your Back Pain Worse

Have you noticed your wallet feeling lighter and your back aching more?

It's not just a coincidence. As inflation surges in 2024, the rising costs are not only straining finances but they are also taking a toll on physical health, particularly low back pain.

In this article we explore some surprising ways that economic stress can show up in your body and provide you with some practical strategies to protect both your finances and your health.

Want to learn more? Keep reading to find out how you can get some relief from the economic and physical pressures of today’s world.

The Impact On Inflation On Our Mental Health

Does anyone else feel like the past few years have just been A. LOT?

We've had to deal with significant events like the war in Ukraine, the conflict in Israel/Gaza, fluctuating unemployment rates, and volatile interest rates.

We are constantly bombarded with news about inflation, stagflation, soft landings, and economic uncertainty.

What does it all mean and why does it seem to be stressing us out and causing an increase in health issues for the average person?

Inflation has been a pressing issue, exacerbated by supply chain disruptions and rising costs of essential goods. This year, surging gas and grocery prices continue to strain people's budgets, impacting the costs of cars, housing, airline tickets, and much more.

An economic recession and rising inflation can be very stressful for people.

The Stress Of Inflation

When your money isn’t going as far as it used to, and your salary isn’t keeping up with inflation, it can be incredibly stressful. Many Americans live from month to month and paycheck to paycheck, so not having enough money to cover living expenses is a significant worry.

Stress and anxiety are not just bad for our mental health but can also significantly affect our physical health. Stress is a major factor in the experience of low back pain. Numerous studies have confirmed a direct association between stress levels and chronic low back pain.

It might seem easy to say you won’t get stressed, or that you will control your stress levels, but that is often easier said than done.

In today’s stressful economic climate, there are also other factors at play that might influence your back pain more than you realize.

Here are five ways that inflation could be making your back pain worse:

  1. Stress

  2. Layoffs

  3. Unemployment

  4. Less Money For Healthcare

  5. Increased Cost Of Healthy Food

Stress affects how our bodies perceive pain, as well as heightening our sensitivity to pain.

1. Stress

Stress plays a major role in modulating our pain systems. It affects how our bodies perceive pain and heightens our sensitivity to it. A study published in the journal ‘Nature’ confirmed that severe stress significantly increases the risk of chronic low back pain. Severe stress, in particular, was associated with an almost 3 fold increase in the risk of chronic low back pain when compared to the general population.

Taking a full medical history is key to managing low back pain.

Healthcare providers are being encouraged to ask more questions when taking a full medical history and to listen to potential complaints about feelings of stress and anxiety, depression or fear.

These feelings are all psychosocial components for the management of chronic low back pain. If patients are severely depressed or under a lot of stress, there are other treatments that clinicians can use to address both the psychological component of pain, as well as helping with the low back pain condition itself.

Current psychological treatments for pain include therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness and meditation, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and deep breathing techniques. All of these treatments are scientifically-based and are supported by sound clinical research on their effectiveness.

Companies across the country are starting to layoff some of their workforce.

2. Layoffs

Along with rising inflation 2024 has also seen some very large and very public companies laying off hundreds if not thousands of workers. A recent report from Business Insider mentions that UPS is cutting 12,000 jobs. Companies like Tesla, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Nike have already either cut jobs or they are planning to cut jobs later this year.

Often just hearing about major corporations doing such sizeable layoffs is enough to cause people to panic as these companies can be seen as major players in the market.

Labor costs are increasing as workers demand more money to try and keep up with rising inflation, but business growth is slowing as the market tries to correct itself after some unsustainable booms. This combination is causing companies across the country to reconsider their staffing levels and see where they, too, can make some cut backs.

Layoffs have negative effects both on those who get cut, and even those who stay.

How Layoffs Affect Stress

While these layoffs might be helping businesses stay viable, unfortunately they are having negative effects both on those who get cut, and even those who stay. Multiple studies over the years have shown how unemployment and job losses have negative psychological and physiological effects on employees.

Layoffs lead to increased levels of stress, insecurity, and burnout, as well as decreasing moral, trust and job satisfaction. When these conditions are present, there are higher turnover levels and employees are less willing to help each other out as they feel as if they are already contributing more than they should be.

A 2009 study conducted by a sociologist at State University of New York found that ‘serious illnesses often crop up shortly after employees were fired, laid off, or displaced by a business closure’. The researchers found that ‘80% of newly unemployed workers were diagnosed with some form of illness’.

Research has shown that some employees who retain their jobs through a company layoff can also experience hazardous levels of stress.

Layoff are incredibly stressful for those who lose their job, but it might be surprising to learn that layoffs are also stressful for those who don’t lose their job. Research has shown that some employees who retain their jobs through a company layoff can also experience hazardous levels of stress. These “survivors” not only had to stress about the possibility of losing their position, but they are often left having to do the work left behind by those who were laid off.

A study published in 2003 by the Institute of Behavioral Science found that ‘workplace injuries can rise, and there can be a spike in depressive symptoms, chronic pain, poor eating, worsening self-care habits, and an increase in sick days taken’.

While layoffs might be an essential part to keeping businesses viable during these challenging times, it is important for both employers, and HR teams, to keep this information in mind when designing and implementing layoffs, and do them with care and careful consideration - not following in the steps of companies like

Unemployment can lead to stress which can lead to depression and then to pain.

3. Unemployment

Closely linked to layoffs is unemployment, whether due to layoffs, hiring freezes, cutbacks, or business closures. Unemployment has a real impact on our physical and psychological health.

Depression and chronic pain can form a cycle, with depression leading to increased pain, increased pain leading to fewer days at work, leading to unemployment, leading to more depression.

Research has shown that chronic back pain is a known risk factor for disability, depression, and unemployment. A prior history of spine surgery is particularly associated with unemployment and depression.

Research on breaking the chronic pain cycle shows that awareness of the impact of stress and depression on low back pain can lead to a different approach to managing the pain. Instead of focusing solely on physiological symptoms, we can look at the biopsychosocial model and consider the person’s life situation.

despite the dramatic increase in spinal-fusion surgeries, there didn’t seem to be any improvements for patients in terms of outcomes or disability rates.

Spine Surgery And Depression

In 2011 researchers M. Walid and N. Daytseva found that despite the dramatic increase in spinal-fusion surgeries, there didn’t seem to be any improvements for patients in terms of outcomes or disability rates.

The authors reported that their study

'sheds light on an important factor that may be behind this lack of better spine surgery outcome: the duo of unemployment and depression.

A model can be suggested where unemployment causes depression, which worsens back problems via pain-threshold modification, leading to additional spine surgeries.

Furthermore, depression strongly affects the ability of patients to achieve a good surgery outcome with significant improvement in symptoms, disability score, and walking capacity, as demonstrated recently by Sinikallio et al’.

When we are aware of the fact that low back pain can be affected by our levels of stress and depression, we can take a different approach to managing the pain.

How The Biopsychosocial Model Breaks The Pain Cycle

Research on breaking the chronic pain cycle shows us that when we are aware of the fact that low back pain can be affected by our levels of stress and depression, we can take a different approach to managing the pain.

Instead of simply focusing on physiological symptoms or mechanical reasons for pain, we can look at the biopsychosocial model and look at the person’s life situation. By giving people the tools to better manage their mental health, you can have a positive impact on their low back pain as well.

During a recession healthcare spending often falls.

4. Less Money For Healthcare

During economic downturns, healthcare spending often falls because people have tighter budgets, less generous insurance policies, harder-to-approve claims, and increased responsibility for healthcare bills. States might also face budget cutbacks for various healthcare programs.

According to PwC's Health Research Institute, medical costs are projected to rise by 7.0% in 2024, driven by inflation, rising wages, and the cost of new drugs. Healthcare providers are under pressure due to these cost increases, coupled with workforce shortages. This results in higher costs for patients, as providers seek significant rate increases from payers to cover their expenses.

CNBC reported that around 22% of Americans avoided medical care and 29% did not take their prescriptions as prescribed, both because of cost. Ensuring that people keep up with healthcare checks is important, so making healthcare more affordable is crucial.

When governments help their citizens with more universal healthcare, economic recession did not impact their use of healthcare.

The Case For Universal Healthcare

Interestingly enough, when governments help their citizens with more universal healthcare, economic recessions don't impact their use of healthcare. In countries where citizens bore the brunt of their healthcare expenses, economic recessions ‘significantly inhibited the out-of-pocket payment willingness for healthcare by reducing wages’.

After the financial crisis in 2008, the effects of the economic recession significantly inhibited residents’ willingness to pay for healthcare services. To ensure that people keep up their healthcare checks it is important that we make healthcare more affordable to individuals so that they can continue to access care during troubling economic times.

There have been numerous studies to see what the effects of recession have had on people’s shopping and eating habits.

5. Increased Cost Of Healthy Food

According to an article from CNBC, “food prices at the grocery store rose 0.9% from March and 9.4% from the year prior. Eggs, chicken and milk were among those hit the hardest".

There have been numerous studies to see what the effects of recession have had on people’s shopping and eating habits. While some studies have found that people ate less meat and calories in general, which were ultimately good things, but there can also be some negative effects on people's diets.

Rises in unemployment often leads to a decrease in the consumption of healthy foods.

Unhealthy Economics

Unemployment has been shown to lead to substitution of regular purchases for discount stores, and increases in consumption of saturated fat, total fat and protein.

Research has shown that “in the medium run food expenditure declined together with consumption of fresh animal-based foods and saturated fat, total fat and protein. In the even longer run these nutrients were substituted by carbohydrates and added sugar”.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge found that during times of recession there was a significant shift away from vegetables, grains, milk and meat. Along with skipping meals, some recorded responses to recession are purchasing different groceries, decreasing fruit and vegetable consumption, and changing the nutritional characteristics of food - making meat and other things go further. Cereal for dinner anyone? (We're just kidding, Kellogs!).

Research shows that less processed foods and more fruits and vegetables have a positive impact on lower back pain. Having a diet that is rich in antioxidants and vitamin D can help to reduce low back pain.

Meal planning can help make your money go further and help you continue to purchase healthy foods during a recession.

Meal Prepping For The Win

Sahirenys Pierce is a money expert and founder of a personal finance blog called ‘Poised Finance & Lifestyle’. Pierce recommends creating a meal plan for the week that uses items people already have in their homes. She preps 3 meals on Sundays and has a plan in place for the remaining days of the week to help reduce the temptation or need for picking up takeout or fast food.

Making sure that you prioritize mental and physical health can help reduce depression.

How To Stop Inflation From Making Your Back Pain Worse

If you are feeling the inflation pain in your purse and in your spine then this next section is for you. We have come up with some free and easy ways that you can reduce your stress levels and your pain levels so that the economy doesn't get the better of you. Let's check them out!

1. Rest, Meditation And Good Choices

Free mental health apps and meditation videos on YouTube can help reduce stress and tension and get your ready to sleep. When we are relaxed and can have a good night's rest we are more likely to make healthier food choices and can take the time to prep foods rather than buying fast food that is processed and inflammatory to our bodies.

LivaFortis looks at the importance of social connection on chronic pain

2. Make New Connections

Spending time outdoors and time with friends and family can add to your resilience during difficult times and help you feel motivated and connected while you manage workplace stress. Making new connections could also lead to increased networking and employment opportunities.

3. Eat Your Veggies

It isn't easy to stay positive and healthy when the world around you seems to be uncertain and you don't know if (or when) your next paycheck is coming. If your budget is particularly tight you can check out local community centers to see when they have fresh fruits and vegetables available. You can also try finding canned or frozen vegetables when they are on sale - they are just as good as fresh! Also, take time to meal plan as that can help reduce impulse purchases that can quickly add up.

Libraries have computers where you can do some job searches if you need to.

4. Reduce Media Consumption

It might also be good to reduce your news and media consumption and focus on things like learning a new skill or reading a good book to relax. Libraries are a great place to spend a day and membership is generally free. They also have computers where you can do some job searches if you need to.

While we may not all be in the same boat, the same storm may be heading our way and the best way to weather a storm is to reach out to others for support. You don't have to face challenges alone. Some may feel that a recession is inevitable, but there are still ways that we can prioritize our health and make sure that we weather the storm in one piece.

LivaFortis looks at affordable physical therapy options like digital physical therapy


While there may not be much that we can do about an economic recession there are things we can do to manage our health during these challenging times.

Innovative healthcare startups, such as LivaFortis, are developing solutions to help consumers control healthcare costs and manage their health conditions without requiring health insurance. These startups offer fixed-cost solutions that enable people to take control of their health, including managing conditions like low back pain, without the financial burden of traditional healthcare expenses.

Making sure that you prioritize mental and physical health can help reduce depression and the low back pain that often accompanies it.


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