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How Pain Increases With Stress

By Sandy Schroeder

Have you ever noticed how much more your back aches or your headaches feel when stress has just made a special delivery?   

You may be totally overloaded at home and then someone gets sick at home. Or your finances may have just encountered an unexpected new bill. 

Whatever strikes, suddenly your neck, back, head or knees may really hurt. Or your stomach may suddenly feel queasy. Whatever areas are vulnerable to stress will turn up the volume on pain a notch  

How It Works says researchers at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have shown stress makes the body more sensitive to pain. Their mouse research published in JNeurosci (Society for Neuroscience) shows stress can impact the cells that regulate the immune response in the spinal cord increasing pain sensitivity. 

Then it can get worse. Ongoing exposure to stress can create inflammatory responses triggering more pain. 

Their advice is to break the stress cycle. Find ways to let go of tension to avoid more pain.  

Break the Pain Cycle 

When stress hits, release tension with your favorite choices. 

Breathe and let everything go - Find a quiet spot, close your eyes and just focus on your breath. Let the stress float away. Look for more breathing exercises that work for you. 

Walk off the worries - When the day has been too long, step outside and walk to the park, or the water, or just around the block. When you return, everything may look and feel a little better.  

Get outdoors whenever you can - Early morning coffee or stretches out on your patio, can release a lot of worry and set the tone for the day. 

Eat lots of superfoods - Help your body fight stress with a whole lot of really healthy choices such as nuts, blueberries, fresh greens, avocadoes, salmon, tuna, oatmeal, black beans, and raspberries. Try for 10 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables daily. 

Put yoga to work - When the mind and body meet in a session of your favorite yoga, you may feel your stress lift. I relax the minute I lower myself onto my mat.  

Wherever you are with pain and stress, make the effort to ease pain. Take some steps to release tension and see if your pain drops back too as you relax, eat better, exercise more, and get outside. Making stress go away could feel so much better.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Atlanta, Ga.

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