Chronic pain is a very uncomfortable and worrisome experience. Those who live with it, perhaps after suffering injuries or perhaps living with a condition like arthritis, worry about flare-ups every day. A new health breakthrough says that avoiding stress is key for pain relief.
This particular study wanted to measure specific indicators that are related to stress, in 16 patients with chronic back pain and in 18 healthy people. The indicators they used were cortisol levels (also known as the “stress hormone”), people’s perception of their own pain, the size of their hippocampus (the brain region involved in pain and anxiety), and how the brain responds to painful stimulation.
A key finding was that people who live with chronic pain have higher levels of cortisol than healthy people. Also, those with a smaller hippocampus tend to have more cortisol, and are likely to feel more pain. They have a stronger response to stress, which makes pain worse, and which then makes chronic pain more debilitating over time.
So basically, people with a smaller hippocampus and who feel the effects of stress worse than others face a higher risk of long-lasting pain. That’s why managing stress is vital.
There are many ways to manage stress in your life. It may be helpful to begin with a visit to a psychologist who can provide very insightful tips. There are also some easy remedies you can start doing today, like exercising regularly and joining a yoga, Pilates or tai chi class. Meditation and aromatherapy are also good ways to keep your stress levels low.
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When you feel bogged down by stress, it’s easy to think that it will never go away. But these easy, tried and true remedies show that you can take control of the stress in your life.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Vachon-Presseau, E., et al., “The stress model of chronic pain: evidence from basal cortisol and hippocampal structure and function in humans,” Brain 2013; 136(3): 815-827.