The Connection Between Stress and Chronic Pain
When chronic pain emerges in the absence of a definable condition
We most often treat chronic pain that stems from conditions including injuries, degenerative spinal conditions and autoimmune disorders like osteoarthritis. But chronic pain doesn’t have to have a definable cause; it can also come about due to stress and anxiety. While people are used to the physical manifestations of stress like headaches, digestion problems and other physical complaints, we are less familiar with the way stress can cause chronic pain. Let’s take a look at the link between stress and chronic pain, because it is not as tenuous as it may seem. And its prevalence is on the rise.
The link between stress and chronic pain
Chronic pain is most broadly defined as pain that lasts for longer than three months, or longer than a normal, natural healing process. So how does stress create such pain? Most studies suggest that the more stress in one’s life, the more tension in their musculature. Over days, weeks, months and years, this elevated level of tension fatigues the muscles and causes them to work less efficiently. You begin to move differently, and the actual structural composition of your body changes. Once pain sets in, it then contributes to mental stress and the cycle perpetuates itself. Breaking this cycle requires a committed approach on behalf of the individual and medical professionals to create a multi-dimensional plan that addresses chronic physical pain along with chronic mental stress.
There is a silver lining in the link between stress and chronic pain
Research shows that treating one side of this equation can positively influence the other- that means that taking a proactive approach to reducing tension in the musculoskeletal system can help reduce stress and anxiety. At our office in Dunedin, we work with you and your primary care provider to identify places of elevated tension and resolve them. Restoring spinal alignment helps regulate your nervous system and improving circulation delivers oxygen and nutrients to the brain so that you can fight stress and anxiety more effectively. If you are interested in finding out more, give our office in Dunedin a call to schedule an appointment today.
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