Stress and the Transformation from Mental to Physical

Stressed?  We all have stress from time to time and if not treated can cause physical illness or chronic pain.  What is stress?  Stress is a phenomenon that initiates our fight or flight response in the brain.  When we perceive a potential for danger our heart rate begins to increase sending more blood to the muscles and adrenaline throughout the body, preparing it for action.  This process (if experienced on a consistent basis) can unbalance our autonomous nervous system which then effects the digestion system, respiratory system, and hormone regulation.  This ultimately leads to depression, anxiety and insomnia.  We may not be eating well as we are worrying about things that may not matter and become deprived of rest.   It’s a chain reaction!

Facial Pain:

Do you experience pain in your mouth, jaw, eyes, or anywhere around your face? A general term for any pain you may feel in your face is Orofacial pain.  Orofacial pain is most often caused by dental health and joint disfunction.  Another condition known as Trigeminal Neuralgia (tic douloureux) is a nerve condition that can feel like an electric shock in your face.  This disorder if not treated can affect any of the 3 nerve branches of your face, causing pain anywhere around your face.  Usually felt on one side of the face but is also in some cases felt on both sides (Bilateral Trigeminal Neuralgia).

Shoulder and Back Pain:

The most common pains caused by stress can be experienced in the shoulders and back.  How?  When you become anxious it can cause the body to tense muscles or hold the neck and shoulders in an unnatural position for long periods of time.  This then makes the muscles and tendons in our body strained causing discomfort and pain.

Stomach pain:

As mentioned earlier, anxiety from stress can affect the digestion system.  When you are in a fight or flight state, adrenaline is being sent throughout your body causing digestion to slow or even stop so you can focus on the stressor or immediate danger.  This process can cause abdominal cramps, constipation, bloating, and diarrhea.

Nerve pain:

Over long periods of time, stress can eventually cause nerve pain.  Although nerve pain is usually caused by serious diseases (cancer, HIV, and diabetes) it is also caused by anxiety from stress.  As we have learned, constant anxiety and depression disrupts many processes in the body (digestion system, respiratory system, and hormone regulation) and can develop into chronic nerve pain.  Chronic pain is defined as a pain that lasts a long time (3, 6, 12 months).  If not treated, this type of pain causes more stress and thus feeds the cycle of stress causing pain.

Do you feel stressed out?  Are you in a perpetual state of feeling anxious?  Do you feel your shoulders, back and neck tense up as you approach the day or lay your head down to rest at night?  Contact our office today to see how the providers at Sun Pain Management can help you.

 

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