Did you know that a recent study done by Mental Health America revealed that 54% of chronic pain patients screened also experienced severe anxiety? There is a strong correlation between stress and pain. Seeing as April is National Stress Awareness Month, our Benbrook pain and wellness center specialists (as well as those at our Bedford location) thought it would be a good time to share some information about how to cope with stress and pain. Read on to learn more.
Understanding the Relationship Between Stress & Pain
The relationship between stress and pain is bidirectional. Bidirectional means that stress can lead to pain, and experiencing pain can lead to stress. Stress can lead to pain by causing changes in the body’s neurochemical system, resulting in increased sensitivity to pain sensations.
This sensitivity can make existing pain even more distressing and increase a person’s chances of developing chronic pain conditions. Additionally, when the body experiences stress, it releases cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. This hormone can contribute to inflammation, which is a common cause of pain as seen in conditions such as arthritis.
At the same time, experiencing pain can lead to stress. Chronic pain conditions can lead individuals to experience many of the following challenges:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Impaired abilities to work or go to school
- Lack of interest in hobbies and social activities (leading to isolation)
As you can see, stress and pain have a direct impact on each other, with stress leading to more pain, and more pain leading to higher levels of stress. But the good news is that there are resources available to help you lower stress and treat pain. Let’s dive into that next!
Get Regular Activity
When stress is experienced, the body’s sympathetic nervous system, also known as the “fight or flight” response, is activated. This response leads to an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. The stress response also causes the release of adrenaline, a hormone that increases energy levels, and cortisol, which increases inflammation.
These responses can increase pain sensitivities, and cause muscles to tense up, which can worsen muscle and joint pain. One simple solution to this is to get active! We recommend 150 minutes of activity a week for decreasing stress. But if you’re currently doing less, don’t let that number overwhelm you. Start small with incorporating one or two of the following suggestions this week:
- Go for a walk
- Try a yoga class
- Sit on an exercise ball at your desk instead of a standard office chair
- Take a nature hike
- Go for a bike ride
- Swim a few laps
Be sure to talk with a member of your care team before beginning a new routine or exercise style. If you are looking for help with determining the best fit for your condition(s), CPI has Benbrook doctors accepting new patients (as well as at our Bedford location) who would be happy to help!
Try Pain Psychology
There are many strategies that exist which are designed to target both pain and stress. These fall under a category called pain psychology. Pain psychology helps patients better manage their chronic pain symptoms with strategies that take into consideration behaviors, feelings and thoughts. Treatments that are commonly offered by pain psychologists include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Nutritional and Dietary Counseling
- Talk Therapy
- Relaxation Techniques
Talk With Your Chronic Pain Specialist
You don’t have to tackle stress and pain alone. Your chronic pain team is well-versed in tackling the effects of stress on pain (and vice versa). At CPI, we believe that your chronic pain should not stop you from living life. We provide a 360-degree treatment approach to pain management including physical therapy, chiropractic adjustment, psychological evaluation and monitoring, medical/therapeutic massage, optimizing hormone levels, medical grade CBD and more.
Benbrook Pain and Wellness Center
Pain is actually a wide spectrum of disorders including acute pain, chronic pain and cancer pain, and sometimes a combination of these. The physicians at CPI have special training in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of all different types of pain. CPI offers a scope of services depending on your specific set of needs as a patient. Call today to schedule a consultation at one of our two convenient Texas locations: Benbrook and Bedford.