It is well documented that chronic stress can be damaging to our bodies, affecting bodily systems such as the respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive and even reproductive systems. But did you know that chronic stress also impacts the musculoskeletal system negatively?
The Mechanism Of Stress In Pain
When stressful situations arise, the body’s response to protect against harm or injury is to tense, or tighten the muscles. This is an automatic reflex response, and once the stressful situation has passed muscle tension will generally ease. However, in the case of chronic ongoing stress the muscles will often remain in a tensed state. This can lead to a range of conditions presenting as movement dysfunction, muscular weakness, pain and general discomfort. It is not uncommon as a result of chronic stress to experience headaches, migraines, neck, back or shoulder pain.
The Progression Of Pain Related To Stress
There is often a cycle of pain as the patient becomes limited in function. Sometimes they are unable to complete normal daily activities for fear of pain. As it progresses movement and physical activity decrease and muscular strength decreases. This can further exacerbate pain and the cycle; without intervention it can continue in this downward spiral.
Using back pain as an example as a result of chronic stress, symptoms may present as:
Restriction in mobility and flexibility
Regular, and sometimes constant back pain, stiffness or soreness
Back pain, stiffness or soreness after activity
Stiffness or pain after completing normal daily activities
Muscular spasm, especially of the muscles around the spine
It’s Important To Get The Right Advice
Of course, when back pain arises it’s important to seek the advice of a health care professional for an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your pain. Clinical Myotherapists are trained extensively in the assessment of multiple conditions that may be the cause of your pain. During your consultation a thorough assessment will be performed to diagnose your presenting condition. Your therapist will then assist to reduce muscle tension, restore spinal mobility and ultimately reduce pain. During your consultation, your therapist will also provide advice on various relaxation techniques as well as strengthening and rehabilitative exercises to restore optimal muscle function.
Article by Kelly Lanctot (BHSc – Myotherapy) if you’d like to make an appointment with Kelly click here to use our instant online booking system.