Stress and Pain

Beware “The Spike”!

stress and painIf you’re one of the millions of Americans dealing with chronic pain, you know it goes without saying that living with pain is extremely stressful.

But that stress, aside from making you feel overwhelmed and likely on the verge of burnout, may also be a key reason why your pain is not going away.

The stress hormone cortisol, which is produced by your adrenal glands in response to stress, is often elevated in people with uncontrolled pain. New research has also revealed that in those with a small hippocampus (a part of your brain associated with memory and organization) are more likely to have elevated cortisol levels and, in turn, an increased risk of chronic pain.[i]

In other words, people with a smaller hippocampus have a stronger stress response that makes their pain worse and more likely to be chronic. Researchers noted:

“These findings support a stress model of chronic pain suggesting that the sustained endocrine stress response observed in individuals with a smaller hippocampii induces changes in the function of the hippocampal complex that may contribute to the persistent pain states.”

Stress and Pain: The Inflammation Link

How exactly does psychological stress lead to, or worsen, chronic pain?

Last year it was shown for the first time that stress may interfere with your body’s ability to regulate inflammation, which plays a key role in your pain and your risk of chronic diseases.[ii] This occurs because when you’re under chronic stress, your tissues become less sensitive to the spikes in cortisol. Psychology professor Sheldon Cohen, one of the study’s authors, explained:[iii]

“Inflammation is partly regulated by the hormone cortisol and when cortisol is not allowed to serve this function, inflammation can get out of control.”

Chronic inflammation, of course, is linked to chronic pain. It’s even been shown that inflammation increases proteins involved in nerve cell communication, which may actually “imprint” the painful response into your brain, causing it to mimic pain even after the initial source (such as an injury or surgery) has been resolved.[iv]

So if you’ve been tackling your chronic pain with medications, trying to simply get rid of your symptoms, you may be missing one of the most important recovery steps of all: proper stress management.

Relieve Your Stress to Help Relieve Your Pain: 5 Top Tips

Stress relief should be an essential part of any plan to reduce chronic pain. Some of the most effective strategies to this end include:

  • Meditation and prayer: Meditation helps to calm racing thoughts and anxiety, and has been proven effective for even the most severe cases of stress, such as post-traumatic stress.[v]
  • Practice mindfulness: This can be as simple as focusing on your breathing or paying attention to how your muscles feel when you work out. Similar to meditation, mindfulness helps you to live in the moment and allow negative thoughts to pass through your mind without bringing on a corresponding negative emotion.
  • Exercise: One of the best tools for stress management, exercise is proven to boost your mood and may help protect your body against the physical effects of stress. All forms of exercise can help relieve stress, but mind-body exercises such as yoga and tai chi may be particularly effective.
  • Acupuncture: This ancient healing technique has recently been shown to help buffer the spike in stress hormones that normally occurs during chronic stress.[vi] As a bonus, it’s also proven to help relieve chronic pain.[vii]
  • Relaxation techniques: Biofeedback, deep breathing, guided imagery, progressive relaxation and self-hypnosis are examples of relaxation techniques that can help you release tension and stress in your daily life.

Stressed and in Pain? Give Your Body a Hand in Fighting Pain-Causing Inflammation

Stress and pain is a “catch-22” of sorts because the more pain you’re in, the more stressed you’re likely to become. In turn, the increased stress may actually make it difficult for your body to regulate the inflammation that’s driving your pain response. So in addition to using the stress-relief techniques above, it’s crucial to give your body a helping hand to fight inflammation, and a key to doing this is by supplying your body with essential proteolytic enzymes.

Proteolytic enzymes are naturally produced in your pancreas, but your natural production declines with age; these inflammation-busters become largely depleted as you hit 40 and over.

stress and painYet, proteolytic enzymes have an unsurpassed ability to fight chronic inflammation and underlying pain. They operate on a “lock-and-key” basis, which means they can recognize good prostaglandins from bad prostaglandins (prostaglandins are hormone-like substances involved in inflammation).

When proteolytic enzymes’ teeth fit into a ‘bad’ prostaglandin that’s already run its course and has no more use, they dispose of it to let the GOOD prostaglandin come in and get rid of the pain. Plus, these enzymes work throughout your entire body to help it fight inflammation … dissolve scar tissue … cleanse and thin your blood … even boost cardiovascular, respiratory and immune function.

The solution is remarkably simple: supply your body with the proteolytic enzymes it needs with Heal-n-Soothe, which has the added benefit of 12 anti-inflammatory ingredients effective at STOPPING pain in its tracks. When these anti-inflammatories combine with proteolytic enzymes, they give your body a powerful and proven one-two punch against inflammation and pain.

Many report that they are 95% pain-free after taking the first bottle of Heal-n-Soothe … learn more now!


Filed Under: Stress
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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