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The Mutual Relationship Between Stress & Pain

Despite thousands of studies, countless hours of research, and a wide range of experiments, we’re still continuing to make new discoveries about chronic pain and why it acts the way it does in order to develop new and better treatment methods. Recent research has shown that pain is influenced by a host of factors, including some which aren’t necessarily physical. Your environment also has a lot to do with how your body reacts, and emotional and social factors have also been shown to cause pain to start or even increase, especially when those factors cause someone great stress. Let’s take a closer look at how pain and stress seem to have a mutual and uncomfortable relationship in your body, and find out how to reduce your chronic pain by reducing the influence of social factors.

How Your Body Responds to Stress

Believe it or not, pain and stress have a very similar effect on your body, which may explain why they have a number of the same consequences. In both painful and stressful situations, your heart rate and blood pressure both rise, your breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and your muscles will tighten in anticipation of what’s coming.

Similarly, when under considerable stress, you may not recognize it but your body slowly falls into these same patterns. Your heart rate and blood pressure rise, your breathing becomes heavier more shallow, and your muscles slowly tense up. Those who suffer from panic attacks frequently experience these symptoms in sudden and severe onset bursts, often caused by similar stressors.

Everybody stresses about different things, but those who suffer from chronic stress and the complications that can result from them usually report being worried about things like their health or finances, the health of their marriage or relationships, or just a fear that something bad will happen. Once these factors slip into the mindset of an individual, the body’s nervous system keeps it on alert, hormone stress levels increase, and muscles go into a nearly permanent state of tension.

As a result, those who suffer from chronic stress also feel chronic pain, especially around areas where they have experienced a serious injury before.

Relaxing the Pain Away

While serious pain may require medical treatment and complex pain management techniques, there are a number of things you can do to help alleviate stress from your mind, which in turn can help your body to relax and the pain to steadily lower until it’s either a fraction of what it once was or disappears entirely. What works for one person may not work for the next, however, so if one of these techniques doesn’t work, don’t get discouraged. Stress relief is simply a matter of finding what works for you.

  • Foursquare breathing: this is a deep breathing exercise. Breath in so your abdomen expands and contracts like a balloon with each breath. Inhale for a count of four, hold it for a count to four, then release the breath over a count of four, then hold it again for a count of four. Four counts of four, hence the name foursquare. Repeat this for a total of 10 cycles.
  • Guided imagery: In your mind, imagine a tranquil scene where you feel comfortable, safe, and relaxed. Be as mentally descriptive as possible, imagining sights, sounds, smells, and colors, and even simulate your feelings. Breathe deeply while imagining this for five to ten minutes each day or whenever you feel stressed.
  • Self-talk: How you think about things heavily influences pain levels. If you have a large task that’s causing you stress, break it down into smaller, more easily-accomplishable baby steps. Think to yourself how you can do something instead of why you can’t do it.
  • Mindfulness meditation: This is simply noticing your breathing and what’s happening around you without attempting to control it, as though it were a cloud passing overhead. Don’t try to push away anything that tries to interfere, just allow it to pass before returning to concentrating and observing your breath. If you do this for about 20 minutes, you should find you have relaxed considerably.

Seek Pain Management Treatment

If you have suffered from serious pain, you may wish to seek assistance from a qualified and experienced Bolingbrook pain management clinic. ProMed Pain Rehabilitation Institute has a long history of successfully helping patients find relief for their conditions without the costly and risky endeavor of surgery.

Talk to us about your pain today! Call ProMed Pain Rehabilitation Institute at (630) 426-3270 to schedule an appointment.