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Stress and pain – Is there a link?

Have you ever had sudden and unexplained Toothaches, Headaches, or sugar cravings? Well stress could be to blame for your random pains and aches.

The Link Between Stress And Pain

It has long been observed that chronic pain and emotional stress have been linked. New research suggests that a neurotransmitter the body releases in response to stress is also increased in response to neuropathic pain and contributes to these symptoms.

Chronic Pain can be explained as any pain that lasts for more than three months. The pain can become progressively worse and reoccur intermittently, outlasting the usual healing process. Chronic pain can also be tied back to a psycho-physiological illness, which is any illness in which physical symptoms are thought to be the direct result of psychological or emotional factors.

Stress can also cause non-chronic pain, such as short term headaches, but often chronic pain will surface as a result of stress and without any real answers it can be a difficult fix.

Studies have shown that people suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in particular are often at higher risk of suffering chronic pain.

While this may sound a little too technical for some it can be quite easily explained. A toothache for example – Increased stress levels can cause people to grind their teeth at night while sleeping, this grinding then causes teeth and jaw soreness. Without knowing, stress is indirectly causing your toothache!

Possible Stress Related Pain

  • Headaches
  • Toothaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Itchy or inflamed skin
  • Chronic pain
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis

The Subconscious Mind

Did you know that the subconscious mind is estimated to be 30, 000 times more powerful than the conscious mind – Experiences stay with us even if you don’t know it!

The Subconscious can be described as part of the mind of which one is not fully aware but which influences one’s actions and feelings.

Take Mike for example

Mike has a history of low back pain, after a number of short term fixes and then subsequent relapses, Mike has lost all confidence in the ability of his back to hold up during day to day life. After feeling good for around a week, Mike is beginning to regain some confidence, so he thinks to himself that a light workout at the gym may be beneficial. Mike is also wary of what exercises he does at the gym after injuring his back lifting weights in a previous incident.

20 minutes into his workout Mike is feeling good, his back sound and his posture strong. ‘What’s the harm in lifting some heavier weights’? 3 reps into his heavier lifting and Mike is struck down and hunched over in excruciating pain.

After a trip to his local Osteopath, Mike is off to get further scans to reveal the extent of the damage. To Mike’s amazement the scans come up clear and no damage is visible.

Mike is diagnosed with Chronic Back Pain and his Osteopath states he is essentially living in an over-reactive state, meaning minor and seemingly insignificant events can cause him excruciating pain. Mike has lost all confidence in the stability of his back – So where to from here?

Mike, as advised by his Osteopath, focuses on 3 specific areas.

  • Behavioural modification/ Cognitive Therapy
  • Tailored Exercise Program
  • Manual Manipulation

Tips to Help You De-Stress

As highlighted above, stress can play a major role in chronic and non-chronic pain. The mind is incredibly powerful, but regaining control over your mind can target the root cause of pain. Trial some of these tips below!

  • Socialise
  • Turn of technology
  • Immerse yourself in nature
  • Visualize
  • Focus your attention on a tree for 10 minutes
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
  • Communicate and reach out for help if you need to

Exercise For Chronic Pain And Stress Related Symptoms

Low impact activities are a great way to get moving again after being diagnosed with chronic pain – Think activities like Cycling, Swimming, Pilates and body weight exercises. The most appropriate course of action is to follow a personalised treatment plan from an Osteopath, where they can advise on things relating specifically to the subconscious mind and chronic pain.

If you or anyone you know is feeling overwhelmed by symptoms of stress, the first step is to reach out for help. Alternatively, if you are interested in the treatment of chronic pain, give our team a call to see how we can help you on 03 9699 2499.

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