Your physical body is a direct manifestation of your brain.  If your brain is unhappy, your body will be unhappy. Do you ever feel more pain when you are in a stressful situation?  You have a big test coming up, one of your family members is sick, or work has been more difficult than usual.  These are all situations that induce more stress than we are used to.  Sometimes this stress can eat away at you mentally, but can also take a toll on your body physically. 

Brain Pain


Many patients discuss how they 'threw their back out' doing some type or everyday movement such as picking up the newspaper or rolling over in bed.  Do you think the movement of bending down to grab the newspaper was the only reason you were unable to stand up and are bed ridden for 3 days?  It certainly may play a role in the pain, but there is more to it than just a minor movement like that. 

All of the pain that we experience is processed in our brain.  If you sprain your ankle the nerves that go to your ankle send signals up your spinal cord into your brain.  The brain then sends signals down through your spinal cord into the nerves of your ankle to alert the area that there is pain.  All of this happens in less than a second...its pretty amazing what the human body is capable of.  If all of this action can happen in less than a second, do you believe it is possible that if your brain is not functioning optimally (because of stress) there can be increased pain throughout the body?

Chronic Pain And Stress


When someone experiences pain, the body releases anxiety and stress hormones such as cortisol.  Increase in cortisol is directly correlated with an increase in inflammation.  Increased inflammation typically directly coincides with increase in pain.  A chronic pain patient who always experiences pain constantly has these hormones released into their system.  This causes a vicious cycle of increased hormones being released causing increased pain and so on.  If one of these two factors (stress and pain) can be diminished we will be able to decrease the other. 

How can we decrease stress is the million dollar question.  One of the most basic ways to decrease stress is through meditation.  Meditation does not necessarily mean sitting in silence imagining you are on a beach.  Meditation can be anything that you enjoy to do. Going for a long walk on a nice day is a form of meditation.  Playing basketball or exercising is a form of meditation.  Anything you can do to turn your brain down a few notches is a form of meditation.  Stress in the brain is caused by constant thought and action.  Doing whatever we can to turn our brain off will help even out our hormone levels and fight off stress.

The next time you have some type of new flare up of pain that came on for no reason, think if your life has become more stressful in that period of time.  Often times you will find that more stress means more pain.  Stress less and have less pain.



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