How Stress Impacts Pain?
Stress and pain are closely linked in a way that stress modulates pain perception and can worsen chronic pain. Stress is unavoidable and everyone experiences it from time to time. It can be defined as the response of the body (physiological, psychological, or emotional) towards a known or perceived threat. Stress is not always bad if it is recovered but prolonged or unmanaged stress can result in unexpected or debilitating symptoms.
What is Stress?
Stress is a state of disharmony that the body perceives and responds to by altering physical, emotional, or psychological behavior. In the context of pain and stress, these are almost vice versa means that stress can cause pain as a manifesting symptom of being in chronic pain can be stressful. Whichever is the case, recovery from pain can be prolonged due to stress.
Relationship Between Stress and Pain
Stress impacts the perception of pain, specifically chronic pain. Stress-induced hyperalgesia is a medical term used to describe the increased perception of pain after exposure to either acute or chronic stress. Stress can induce changes in the body and nervous system that increase pain sensitivity and perception. This is due to changes in the neurobiological pathway that receives and transmits pain signals to and from the brain. The second thing that stress does to the body is that it stimulates the release of stress hormones such as cortisol that increases pain perception acutely and in the long term the stress leads to certain mental health conditions that can lead to chronic pain syndromes.
The other way round is that pain causes stress ultimately leads to prolonged recovery time is also seen in many chronic pain conditions like arthritis. The thoughts of pain and restriction of routine activities due to pain can cause emotional disturbances in an individual. Feeling isolated due to not being able to get up and move around is also a factor causing stress in such patients. Studies have shown that the body releases the same chemicals in stress and chronic pain pricing a relationship between stress and pain. These chemicals can increase the perception of pain and in presence of such chemicals, the body will not be able to alleviate pain. Therefore it is important to reduce stress levels to manage pain.
What to Do?
Because stress is linked to pain so reducing or coping with stress helps in relieving painful conditions. Following are some steps to reduce stress and improve pain.
● Be Active
Lifestyle changes are the only step if taken properly can reduce stress. Being physically active elevates mood, improves and reduces muscular stiffness.
● Improve Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can lead to mental and physical disturbances. Having a good sleep at proper timings is essential to keep the mind and body healthy.
● Find Distractions
Thinking about pain can cause an emotional toll which can easily put anyone under stress. It is essential to keep your mind off from thinking about pain. Diverting your mind with activities you like can reduce stress and ultimately your pain may be alleviated.