Top Four Ways to Reduce Stress Related Pain

August 15, 2016

Stress affects everyone.  Symptoms of stress may emerge when faced with deadlines at work, juggling your finances or when coping with a sick child or parent.  But what is stress?  “When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to prevent injury. This reaction is known as “fight-or-flight,” or the stress response. During stress response, your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises. You’ve gotten ready to act. It is how you protect yourself,” says WebMD.com.

“When you are stressed, you are likely frowning, your lips are pursed and your face looks pinched – that’s what you can see, what you don’t see is that all your muscles are pinched and pursed, they are tense and tight,” says  says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, a stress management expert, author of “The Magnesium Miracle” and “The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Women’s Health” and on the Medical Advisory Board of the Nutritional Magnesium Association. “Holding muscles tense and tight causes pain. Just make a fist and hold it for a few seconds and you see what I mean. So stress means muscle tension and pain. For example, tension headaches are the result of stress.”

Why does being in a stressful state sometimes create physical pain? “Stressful states or physical pain are not that different with regards to what is actually happening in the brain,” says Eric Braverman, M.D., the founder and president of PATH Foundation NY, a non-profit research organization devoted to brain health, and medical director of PATH Medical, where he treats patients for addiction, nutrition, symptoms of aging, and neurological disorders. “Regardless of the source of stress, whether it’s an injury or a response to emotional or psychological stress, the way the brain processes it and the net effect on the body are very similar.”

What are the top five ways to reduce stress-related pain?

Get Back to the Basics – “I would stop and think about the basics,” says Dr. Braverman. “My main tip is to go back to the brain and reset the tone there. You can do that with your behavior, exercise, breathing, nutrients, and for more complex situations, you can coordinate that with how your hormones and brain chemistry are working from a medical perspective.”

“Recognize that you are stressed and take deep calming breaths,” says Dr. Dean. “Drink soothing herbal teas – like chamomile or Sleepy Time tea. Take magnesium – you can put magnesium citrate powder in your water bottle and sip it as a stress- reliever throughout the day. Take Epsom salts baths at night so you sleep well in spite of the stress and wake up refreshed.”

Charge Up Your ‘Feel Good’ Chemicals – “Serotonin, the feel good brain chemical that is boosted artificially by some medications, depends on magnesium for its production and function,” says Dr. Dean.  “Magnesium is known as the anti-stress, anti-anxiety mineral for this reason. Numerous studies have shown its effectiveness in boosting mood, lowering anxiety and reducing stress levels as well as helping with pain relief and deeper more restful sleep.”

Go Alternative – “To reduce stress related pain, we use acupuncture and massage therapy in my practice,” says Dr. Braverman. “We want to take down someone’s pain level and create a safer environment for them to rehabilitate. That’s the whole purpose of rehabilitation; to help assist someone through that phase, get them to a more comfortable state, where they can then actively and intentionally change some of their habits.”

“Yoga, acupuncture, tai chi, massage – can all help stress-related pain,” says Dr. Dean.

Stretch – “When I talk about ‘stretching,’ I mean comprehensively stretching all the tight and problem areas of your body to keep things as balanced as possible,” says Eugene  Sims, a physiotherapist and naturopath and author of “How I Achieved Freedom From Arthritis.” “To do this effectively you will need some help to understand where you have imbalances and what stretches to do for these areas.”

Go Topical – “With a topical, you can deliver much less medicine to the body because you’re applying it directly at the site of pain,” says Dr. Aristotle Economou, Beverly Hills wellness doctor and author of Change the Way You Heal: 7 Steps to Highly Effective Healing. “The Salonpas Pain Relieving Patch and the Salonpas Arthritis Pain Patch are the first topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) approved through the FDA’s rigorous New Drug Application process which is the same process used to approve prescription medicines.”

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