Everyone experiences stress. However, some people deal with more stress than others. Managing and reducing stress is an important part of pain management as well as disease prevention.
How Chronic Stress Harms Your Body & Makes You Sick
Stress and Pain
There is a link between chronic pain and stress, depression, and anxiety. In fact, people with anxiety or depression disorders often have chronic pain conditions.
While the link between stress and pain isn’t fully understood, pain management doctors know that being in a constant state of stress takes a toll on the body. When you are stressed out, your muscles become tensed and your blood pressure elevates. Also, there is a shift in levels of hormones and chemicals in your brain and body. These changes can have a negative effect on your body if they continue for prolonged periods of time.
Cortisol, for example, is a hormone released during stress. During short-term stressful events, cortisol surges to provide the extra energy needed to deal with the stressor or flee from it. Additionally, it plays a role in the anti-inflammatory process. However, during periods of chronic stress, cortisol can fail to function properly. This can lead to inflammation throughout the body, and inflammation can lead to pain.
Stress and Illness
Chronic stress weakens our immune systems. Your immune system is what fights against pathogens, toxins, and diseases that enter your body. A compromised immune system can lead to illness. Let’s take a look at how stress influences the immune system.
A recent study by Michigan State University found how a protein called corticotropin-releasing factor receptor subtype 1 (CRF1) plays an important role in the immune system’s responses to stress. When the body experiences stress, this protein sends signals to mast cells. Mast cells are a type of immune cell that are involved with allergic reactions and inflammatory diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), asthma, and lupus. When allergens enter the body, for example, mast cells fight back by releasing histamine. If you have ever had allergy symptoms (such as watery eyes and runny nose), it is due to the release of histamine.
Mast cells have CRF1 receptors, which meansCRF1 can have an effect on mast cells. When the body experiences stress, CRF1 sends signals to mast cells. In the Michigan State University study, researchers studied how mice with normal CRF1 receptors experienced increases in histamine levels when exposed to stress and allergens. They also noted how this increase in histamine led to diseases.
The researchers also studied mice that lacked CRF1 receptors. They found that when these mice were exposed to stress and allergens, their histamine levels were a lot lower. This resulted in less disease.
Diseases Linked to Stress
Stress can increase your risk of certain diseases, and it can even make your symptoms worse. Some diseases related to stress include heart disease, diabetes, obesity, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma.
Manage Your Stress
Good ways to manage stress include physical activity (such as walking or running), meditation, reading, spending time with friends and family, relaxing, getting a message, and seeking out therapy. Everyone is different, so find what works best for you. If you suffer from chronic pain or any of the health conditions mentioned above, consider speaking with a doctor about how stress management may benefit you.
If you are looking for a Las Vegas pain management doctor, contact Apex Medical Center. We specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of painful conditions. We also treat other health conditions such as diabetes, allergies, gastrointestinal issues, skin ailments, and more.