Endorphins – When Your Body’s Natural Painkillers Worsen Your Pain

By Sherwin Nicholson | SN Health Resources

endorphins and lower back pain

Endorphins are your body’s natural painkillers

Produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland, these powerful neurotransmitters serve to block the transmission of pain signals to various areas of the body.

The word endorphin means, endogenously (within the body) produced morphine (or morphine-like chemical).

This very potent chemical interacts with the opiate receptors in the brain.  It reduces or blocks pain signals by reducing our perceived sensation of pain.

Other clinical drugs such as morphine and codeine function similarly.   There are over 20 naturally produced endorphins generated by the body.

Endorphins are sometimes produced in response to stress and pain

They are as powerful (if not more) than opium, morphine or other restricted drugs.  The difference is that the natural painkillers produced in the body are not addictive and do not lead to dependency.  We think of the benefits of these natural painkillers during times of euphoria.

Examples include: when we are highly excited or aroused events, high levels of happiness, sexual activity and intense exercise.

As valuable as endorphins are in providing sensations of euphoria and pain relief, the effect of the transmitters is short.  They tend to wear off quickly are also released and metabolized from the body quickly.

Lower back pain, whether acute or chronic, generates endorphin release

As pain sustains and builds up throughout the day, the continuous production of these natural painkillers is there in response to the injury present.  The endorphins reach a level high enough for us to perceive that our pain has been lowered.

Towards the end of the day, as your back pain has triggered pain killing endorphins, you begin to believe that your back pain has improved

endorphins and morning back pain

Although you may feel that your pain symptoms have reduced and you feel better, the cause of the pain is very much present.  Nothing has improved.  Only your perception that it has.

It’s a very common cycle for people to experience.  Symptoms are worse in the morning upon waking, gradually improve throughout the day and at bedtime.

As the endorphins no longer bind and wear off, the pain signals return to the same level if not worse

During the times in which the person has felt the perceived loss of pain, they are sometimes more likely to engage in highly risky activities that may increase their chances of further injury and pain.

It is very common to feel the return of intense, frustrating lower back pain in the morning when it was believed to have stopped the night before.

It is not pleasant to realize that the underlying cause of pain is still present.  However, knowing this allows us to change our approach to addressing the cause and not only the symptoms.

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