Stress is a natural part of everyday life. Weather at work or home, stress can not be avoided, but we need to find ways to reduce or relieve it in order to keep it from physically ruining our life. Daily physical and mental demands or changes in our normal routines can cause stress. There is good and bad stress, the stress we can deal with is good stress, since it does not lead to additional problems. The stress we cannot handle or cope with is bad stress. Our reactions to bad stress comes about in many ways–anxiety, hyperventilation, muscular tension, neck, shoulder or back pain, headaches, fatigue, sleep disorders, bowel problems, panic attacks, or total “burn out”. There are many other stress related pain or disease processes that affect us on a daily basis that can cause physical illness.
Stress management and relief are difficult because stress symptoms are generally mistaken for other symptoms of a physical, mental, behavioral, or emotional conditions. Physical signs of stress can include fatigue, insomnia, muscle pain, headaches, heart palpitations, cramps, trembling, cold extremities and perspiration. Mental stress includes short attention spans, forgetfulness, indecisiveness, confusion loss of a sense of humor. Behavioral stress symptoms include angry outbursts, crying, and smoking, drinking, over eating, nail-biting and foot or finger tapping. Emotional stress can be seen in depression, worry, impatience, anxiety and nervousness. Because of the overlap in symptoms it is difficult to get to the root cause of stress and the pain it’s triggering.
Stress can be acute (Immediate) or Chronic (long term). Acute stress comes on with a temporary incident (like an argument or being stuck in traffic), which creates unexpected circumstances in our lives. We usually adapt readily to this sudden change and the stress is resolved; however, sudden stress like this can induce physical reactions such as headache pain which may last for hours. Sudden changes to our daily life can also be viewed as acute stress, but their impact can result in physical illness. The death of a loved one, divorce, injuries, job loss etc. are stressful events and can have a devastating impact on our physical and mental health.
Unlike acute stress, chronic stress is the result of continuous, unchanging circumstances, like persistent physical pain or an unpleasant lifestyle. Unrelenting stress can cause continuous muscle or joint pain, and headaches. Chronic stress can also lead to internal problems such as ulcers, or increased blood pressure which in turn can lead to heat attack or stroke.
Chronic back or neck pain , arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, tension and migraine headaches, sciatica, fibromyalgia and whiplash all can set off a chain reaction of physical and mental side effects, and can affect the nervous and immune system. It can also intensify negative reactions to everyday stress. Coping with chronic pain can bring on anxiety and or depression, causing the brain to perceive even more pain, which subsequently creates even greater chronic stress. The tension (stress), anxiety pain cycle.
It is very difficult to treat stress-related conditions since it is often not possible to eliminate the stressors. Most people treat the pain symptoms with medications, unfortunately, the side effects of long term use of pain medications, generally lead to further health problems which will itself increase stress. Chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, as well as exercise and yoga, can naturally help reduce the symptoms of stress. You also need to personally try to alter your behavior and learn to recognize and manage the warning signs, cope with pain, and deal with stress-generating situations to avoid the pain they produce.