“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James
Anyone who suffers from stress and anxiety understands that much of it is the result of our response to external factors. That being said, we also know that avoiding or mitigating stress is a bit more than “mind over matter” or trying to simply “be positive.”
The Pain That Can Result From Stress and Anxiety
We’ve probably all heard of the many behavioral, emotional, and cognitive symptoms that can result from stress and anxiety. It can, however, take a significant toll on our bodies including:
- Pain of any kind
- Sleep problems
- Digestive problems
- Skin conditions
- Heart disease
- Weight problems
- Reproductive issues
In addition, it has been shown that people who are subjected to long-term stress can actually develop autoimmune disorders, as well.
A 2018 study published in a National Institute of Health (NIH) website determined that,
“[E]xposure to a stress-related disorder was significantly associated with increased risk of subsequent autoimmune disease.”
One of the conclusions is that joint pain and joint disorders, in particular, can be impacted by stress and can result in associated autoimmune disorders.
Autoimmune disorders cause the immune system to produce antibodies that damage healthy tissue in the body instead of fighting infection. In conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, these antibodies attach themselves to connective tissue in joints leading to pain, stiffness, swelling, and potentially permanent joint damage.
However, early intervention and treatment can help prevent further damage and joint deterioration caused by these disorders.
Considering Stress and Your Body
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the “stress response.”
The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. And this is perfectly fine in “normal” circumstances. However, many of us experience inordinate numbers of stressors and we are prone to chronic stress.
A post at HelpGuide.org describes the effects of chronic stress,
“Your nervous system isn’t very good at distinguishing between emotional and physical threats. If you’re super stressed over an argument with a friend, a work deadline, or a mountain of bills, your body can react just as strongly as if you’re facing a true life-or-death situation. And the more your emergency stress system is activated, the easier it becomes to trigger, making it harder to shut off… And that can lead to serious health problems.”
The problem is that chronic stress can disrupt nearly every system in your body. For example, it can suppress your immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and upset your digestive and reproductive systems.
Studies have even shown that chronic stress can “rewire” the brain, which can leave you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
Finding Relief from The Impact of Stress
Stress is probably unavoidable for anyone, but there are several ways to ease the symptoms. Here is a list of suggestions from Towson Orthopaedic Associates:
Identify triggers: Write in a journal and look for patterns. Once you’ve identified them, try to find ways around them.
Eat well: Not only is a healthy diet essential in maintaining a healthy weight, certain foods can also help decrease pain and inflammation.
Ask for help: You’re not alone. If you feel overwhelmed, ask for help.
Stay active: Exercise plays an important role in both mental and physical health. Incorporate walking, yoga, or other activities into your daily routine.
Limit alcohol and caffeine: Alcohol and caffeine can intensify anxiety and joint pain. Stick to water when you can.
While you may be able to master the skill of coping with stressors and avoiding mental and emotional behaviors that can increase or perpetuate stress and anxiety, what can you do about the pain?
One effective solution is to decrease joint stress and muscle tension with the Active Release Techniques® or ART®. This therapy approach incorporates similar techniques to deep tissue massage and myofascial release by manipulating soft tissue.
A few of the many benefits that can come from applying ART® is relief from tension headaches and stress-induced neck and shoulder pain. In addition, treatment with Active Release Technique®, can be used to reduce the stress placed on joints and nerves from muscle tissue dysfunctions.
Finding Pain Relief With Pain and Performance Solutions and ART®
Perhaps you’re currently struggling with chronic pain and have been unable to find relief. If so, we want you to call us at Pain and Performance Solutions.
When you come to your first appointment, we will learn about your present discomfort as well as any history of discomfort. Getting pain relief with Active Release Technique ® begins with an understanding of when and how your pain started.
A full examination will help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to get you on your road to recovery. Your trust in us is key, as is your honesty. Ultimately, getting your body healthy and working properly is the only way to achieve total recovery.