Can Back Pain Cause High Blood Pressure?

Apr 14, 2022

When you’re in pain, it can impact every area of your life. In addition to the pain itself and being unable to participate in certain activities, severe pain for long periods of time can have an impact on the rest of the body and lead to other health issues.


This is especially true when the pain begins in the spine, which can impact the nervous system and eventually cause problems throughout the entire body. One common example is high blood pressure, which can be worsened by pain. In order to prevent these cardiovascular problems from developing, it is important to seek back pain treatment as soon as you notice it.

About High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the measure of the force your blood exerts against the walls of your arteries. When the heart pumps more blood and the arteries are narrower, blood pressure increases. Persistent high blood pressure, or hypertension, can eventually cause serious health problems such as heart disease. Blood pressure is determined by two measurements:

  • Systolic Pressure: The top number, which measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
  • Diastolic Pressure: The bottom number, which measures the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats.

Most people with high blood pressure do not exhibit any signs or symptoms, even when their blood pressure reaches dangerously high levels. However, in severe cases, symptoms might include headaches, shortness of breath, or nosebleeds, but these usually occur only when blood pressure reaches life-threatening levels. For many, high blood pressure is often discovered during routine check-ups or when they seek medical attention for other conditions.

Does Back Pain Cause High Blood Pressure?

Back pain is a common ailment that can have a variety of causes, ranging from muscular strain to structural issues in the spine. Interestingly, there is growing evidence to suggest that back pain can also have an impact on blood pressure. This relationship between pain and blood pressure is a complex interplay involving physiological and psychological factors.

The Connection Between Pain and Blood Pressure

Pain, regardless of its origin, can stimulate the body’s stress response. When an individual experiences pain, the body activates the sympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the “fight or flight” response. This activation leads to the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones prepare the body to respond to a perceived threat, which includes increasing heart rate and constricting blood vessels, resulting in elevated blood pressure.

Back Pain and Blood Pressure

Back pain can have a strong effect on blood pressure because of its persistent and often chronic nature. Here are several mechanisms by which back pain might influence blood pressure:

Chronic Stress and Pain Perception

Chronic back pain can lead to sustained stress and anxiety. This prolonged stress response keeps the sympathetic nervous system active for extended periods, leading to consistently high levels of stress hormones, which in turn can cause chronic elevation of blood pressure.

Physical Limitations and Sedentary Lifestyle

Severe back pain often limits physical activity, leading to a more sedentary lifestyle. Lack of physical activity is a well-known risk factor for hypertension. Moreover, decreased mobility can lead to weight gain, which further increases the risk of high blood pressure.

Sleep Disturbances

Back pain can significantly disrupt sleep, leading to conditions such as insomnia. Poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation are strongly associated with increased blood pressure. During sleep, blood pressure typically dips; however, persistent pain can prevent this nocturnal dip, contributing to higher average blood pressure levels.


Chronic pain, including back pain, is often associated with inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to both chronic pain and hypertension. Inflammation can damage blood vessels, making them less flexible and more susceptible to increased pressure.

Other Causes of High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure can be high for a large range of reasons, whether pain is present or not. Other common factors and conditions that can raise blood pressure include:

  • Age: As we age, our risk for hypertension increases, even in the absence of other risk factors.
  • Family history: High blood pressure can run in the family and be passed down genetically. If your family has had high blood pressure, you are more likely to suffer from the same.
  • Comorbidities: Having many conditions can cause high blood pressure. These include unmanaged diabetes, heart disease, thyroid, kidney, and autoimmune conditions.
  • Clogged arteries: If the blood vessels become damaged, they may change their structure and cause blood pressure to increase.
  • Diet: Eating large amounts of sugar and sodium can increase blood pressure over time.
  • Lifestyle factors: Low physical activity, smoking, moderate to high alcohol intake, and a lack of sleep are associated with hypertension.
  • Mental health: Stress, anxiety, loneliness, and anger have all been shown to be linked to high blood pressure.
  • Self-esteem: Negative self-talk and low self-esteem are harmful to blood pressure over time.
  • Hydration: Not drinking enough water can increase blood pressure.
  • Holding the bladder: Avoiding urination for a long enough period of time can increase blood pressure.
  • Medications: Certain medications have side effects that include high blood pressure. This can include NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen and aspirin), decongestants, hormonal birth control, and antidepressants.

Managing High Blood Pressure

In cases where blood pressure is raised as a result of back pain, managing and addressing the back pain is one of the primary mechanisms for managing the condition. There are also various methods that can address both hypertension and pain simultaneously.

Certain lifestyle changes may be recommended as the first form of management for pain and high blood pressure, such as:

  • Dietary changes: A diet that includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils is best for managing high blood pressure and keeping the body healthy. It is best to reduce sodium, sugar, and saturated or trans fats, which are found in most processed and fried foods.
  • Alcohol: Even one or two drinks per day can increase blood pressure. It is best to avoid alcohol altogether, but you can speak with your doctor about what amount of alcohol you can consume safely.
  • Daily exercise and physical activity: Regular daily exercise or physical activity can lower and control high blood pressure and also be a great way to treat or prevent back pain. If you are suffering from back issues or conditions that cause pain, you can work with your doctor or physical therapist to determine what exercises are best for you.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity can be associated with hypertension, and losing even 3-5% of body weight can decrease blood pressure and help it to regulate.
  • Don’t smoke: Smoking constricts the blood vessels and increases blood pressure. It is best to stop completely when possible or to at least limit smoking as much as possible.
  • Avoid stress: Use meditation, exercise, therapy, and other forms of self-care to manage mental and physical stress that could raise blood pressure. These ways to help your body recover from stress can help.
  • Get enough sleep: The recommendation for adults is to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. You can improve your sleep habits by having an established, calming bedtime ritual, keeping your sleep space cool and dark, and setting regular times for waking and going to bed.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture, a Chinese medicine practice that utilizes needles placed throughout the body, can improve blood pressure in some people.

If your blood pressure is very high and cannot be managed with lifestyle changes, your doctor may prescribe medications to help. This will need to be done with care for other conditions and medications you may be on, including pain medicines that could cause interactions. The most common medications used for blood pressure are:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: These medications prevent the blood vessels from narrowing.
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs): By blocking angiotensin II, these drugs relax the blood vessels and lower blood pressure. This is done by restricting the blood flow and increasing pressure.
  • Diuretics: These remove sodium and extra water from the body.
  • Beta-blockers: By lowering the heartbeat, beta-blockers can ultimately lower blood pressure.

When to Seek Treatment

High blood pressure can be detected at any doctor’s visit, as this is one of the vital signs they monitor regularly. Most people will not present with symptoms of high blood pressure, so it is often discovered this way or when serious conditions arise. However, when high blood pressure is a result of back pain, you can take proactive measures to prevent future complications. Any time you suspect high blood pressure, you should visit a local pharmacy or doctor to check your numbers. The ideal blood pressure is 120/80, but anytime you have a systolic over 140 or a diastolic over 90, you should seek further care.

Any back pain is a reason to seek treatment. While some minor pain can resolve on its own after a situational flare-up, back pain usually indicates an issue with the spine that should be addressed. Without treatment, the pain can worsen as the condition worsens and the spine attempts to compensate.

Some symptoms that may be related to both pain and high blood pressure include:

  • Neck ache
  • Severe headaches
  • Vision problems
  • Dizziness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Blood in the urine
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • A pounding sensation in the neck, chest, or ears

If you experience any of these symptoms, especially in conjunction with back pain, seek immediate medical attention.

Potential Complications of High Blood Pressure

Are you wondering, “Will back pain raise blood pressure?” If blood pressure is raised over an extended period of time without being controlled, it can cause serious issues. The excessive pressure placed on your artery walls by high blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels and organs over time. The higher the blood pressure and the longer it is uncontrolled, the more damage is possible.

Complications from uncontrolled high blood pressure may include:

  • Heart attack or stroke: When the arteries become hard and thick, it is a condition known as atherosclerosis, which is a leading cause of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Aneurysm: When the blood vessels weaken due to increased blood pressure, they can bulge and form an aneurysm. If this aneurysm ruptures, it can be fatal.
  • Heart failure: The heart has to work harder to pump blood against the higher pressure in your blood vessels. The walls of the heart’s pumping chamber then thicken in a condition called left ventricular hypertrophy. Over time, the thickened muscles can fail to pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs, leading to heart failure.
  • Kidney problems: If the blood vessels in your kidneys become weakened and narrowed, they may not be able to function normally.
  • Vision problems: If the blood vessels in the eyes become thickened, narrowed, or town, you may experience vision loss.
  • Metabolic syndrome: This syndrome is a group of disorders of the body’s metabolism, such as increased waist size, high triglycerides, decreased “good” cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high insulin levels. All of these conditions increase the risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
  • Trouble with memory and comprehension: Uncontrolled hypertension can affect your ability to think, remember, process, and learn.
  • Dementia: If narrowed and blocked arteries impact blood flow to the brain, it can cause a type of dementia known as vascular dementia. This can also be brought on by a stroke that interrupts blood flow to the brain.

Managing Back Pain to Prevent Hypertension

If you are suffering from any form of back pain, seeking relief should be a primary goal. However, if that pain worsens or becomes chronic, addressing the issue becomes even more critical. Chronic back pain can contribute to a sustained increase in blood pressure, leading to complications that extend far beyond the discomfort of your back.

Chronic back pain can trigger a stress response in your body, elevating levels of stress hormones that increase blood pressure. Over time, this can result in persistent hypertension, a condition that carries significant health risks, including heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage. Therefore, managing back pain effectively is not just about alleviating discomfort but also about protecting your overall cardiovascular health.

To prevent hypertension and mitigate its risks, consider the following strategies for managing back pain.

Seek Professional Help

Consult healthcare providers such as doctors, physiotherapists, or chiropractors to diagnose the cause of your back pain and develop a tailored treatment plan. Early intervention can prevent pain from becoming chronic.

Engage in Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can strengthen the muscles supporting your spine, improve flexibility, and reduce pain. Regular physical activity is also beneficial for cardiovascular health and can help lower blood pressure.

Practice Good Posture

Maintaining proper posture while sitting, standing, and sleeping can alleviate strain on your back and prevent pain from worsening. Ergonomic adjustments at work and home can make a significant difference.

Manage Stress

Techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing exercises can help reduce the stress that exacerbates both pain and blood pressure. Consider cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) if chronic pain is affecting your mental health.

Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep are crucial for overall health. These habits can help maintain a healthy weight, reduce inflammation, and keep blood pressure in check.

Use Pain Management Techniques

Over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, or alternative therapies like acupuncture can provide pain relief. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new treatment.

Stay Active

Even if certain activities are restricted due to back pain, remaining as active as possible is important. Gentle exercises such as walking, swimming, or yoga can help keep your body moving without placing too much strain on your back.

By addressing back pain promptly and comprehensively, you not only improve your quality of life but also protect yourself from the long-term health risks associated with high blood pressure. Effective pain management is a vital component of maintaining overall health and preventing chronic conditions.

Learn More About Back Pain and Blood Pressure at AICA Conyers 

The team at AICA Conyers will be able to evaluate your back pain and determine the root cause before developing a comprehensive treatment plan. Your course of care will include not only relief from pain, but also a focus on your overall health and how the pain impacts your body’s other systems, including the cardiovascular system. This may include non-invasive treatments, spinal decompression treatment, and others that are specifically suited to your needs. If you are experiencing back pain and want to avoid a chronic condition and other health impacts, contact AICA Conyers today to schedule your first consultation with our team of experts.


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