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Posted on 11-30-2015
Those who find themselves wondering if they're suffering from chronic pain may find themselves reaching for countless number of reliefs. At home remedies, over the counter aids, prescriptions, and maybe even physical therapy. But how many will ask themselves or their doctor, "Is stress causing my pain?"
Stress can have an impressive reaction to our bodies, physically. We're all familiar with the psychological pains of stress - anxiety, feeling over-whelmed, wanting to have as many things on our plate just go away. But what about the physical pains? And, more importantly, what can be done about them?
One of the most common side-effects of stress is one you may not even realize you're doing - teeth grinding! Known as "bruxism," teeth grinding is hard not only on your teeth, but on your jaw as well. This leads to what is known as temporomandibular joint problems, or TMJ.
It can cause problems not only in your jaw's joint, but in the muscles traveling up your neck to your jaw, which support your head. Your doctor or dentist can help you determine if you have TMJ, and may help you wish your medical choices. You can also consider alternative healing options, such as chiropractic care.
Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS), a term coined by John Sarno, M.D. of New York, is used to describe the unique connection between back pain and psychological stress. The pain can either have been originated by the stress in your life, or could simply be perpetuated by it.
Stress is thought to contribute to back, shoulder, and neck pain in several ways, most of which work together in a sort of domino effect:
- You begin to experience some kind of subtle back, shoulder, or neck pain
- Stress becomes a large part of your daily life, limiting your normal activities and taking time away from your regularly active self, largely due to fear of injuring yourself
- This fear of injury may be made worse if someone tells you to "go easy on yourself" after sustaining a likely minor injury (such as a sprain) that is unrelated to your back
- This catechism of fear and lack of mobility lead to muscle weakness, physical de-conditioning, and your back pain becoming worse
How can you change this? Improving your inner-voice and self-talk can help a lot. Remind yourself that you want to heal, that you want to be happy and successful. Unless your doctor has explicitly told you not to do something, then remaining active is ultimately going to help you heal.
Our digestive tracts have an impressively complex array of nerve cells which start in our esophagus and make their way down through our stomachs and into our intestines. It's known as our "gut brain," and it can unfortunately take the short end of the stick when our stress kicks in. Heart burn, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and indigestion can all be stress-linked. Physical exercise, sleep, and eating regular balanced meals are all ways to help keep some of the physical manifestations of stress out of your life.
Paying attention to the link between our stress and the pain in our lives is incredibly important. Not only can stress cause new pain and injury to occur, but research has shown that stress can actually delay healing with existing injuries.
Contact us today if you have any questions about how to better improve your own health through decreasing stress, increasing physical activity, and embracing a better you.
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