A new study has revealed that a little adversity in life can be protective and beneficial for people with chronic back pain.
These individuals experience less physical impairment and spend less time in doctor's offices or health clinics, said the study's author Mark Seery, of University of Buffalo.
He emphasized that the key to the benefit is the experience of "some" prior adverse events as opposed to many or none at all.
"This study of 396 adults with chronic back pain (CBP) found that those with some lifetime adversity reported less physical impairment, disability and heavy utilization of health care than those who had experienced either no adversity or a high level of adversity," explained Seery.
"The data suggest that adversity-exposure also may protect against psychiatric disturbances that occur with CBP and additional analyses found no alternative explanations of our findings," said Seery. Researchers from the University at Buffalo and the University of California speculate that observed patterns of relationships between adversity and CBP-related outcomes may reflect the possibility that resilience, a phenomenon largely ignored in previous CBP research, is occurring.
"It appears that adversity may promote the development of psychological and social resources that help one tolerate adversity, which in this case leads to better CBP-related outcomes. It may be that the experience of prior, low-levels of adversity may cause sufferers to reappraise stressful and potentially debilitating symptoms of CBP as minor annoyances that do not substantially interfere with life," said Seery.
Seery said that previous attempts to understand the persistence, refractoriness and disability associated with CBP have underscored the importance of psychosocial variables and demonstrated an association between CBP and lifetime exposure to adverse events.
The findings were published in the journal Pain.