by Kimberly Balas, ND

In today’s world we are constantly under stress and this stress contributes to the pains we experience. In stressful situations, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, releasing increased levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones create vasoconstriction, stress on the cardiovascular system and affect glycolysis in muscles. Emotions like anger, anxiety and grief affect hormones and neurotransmitters that can actually bring about physical sensations of pain.

Stress makes us feel anxious, short tempered and overwhelmed. It takes its toll on the adrenal glands, contributing to adrenal exhaustion, which can increase inflammation and pain. Pain causes us to clench our muscles and breathe more shallowly, which makes pain worse. Pain is stressful, so experiencing pain increases our stress level. Since stress makes pain feel worse, this creates a vicious cycle that contributes to fear, depression and feelings of exhaustion.

Clearly, it is necessary to both reduce pain and control stress at the same time. Things like time management, bio-feedback, chiropractic, yoga breathing, hypnosis and acupuncture are all really beneficial for pain relief because they also help to manage stress.

Food choices are also a big issue. When eating processed foods the nerves aren’t being properly fed. They become innervated, raising pain levels due to irritation. pH values become too acidic, which also contributes to pain. An alkalizing diet that features plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will feed the nerves and reduce irritation, easing pain. Staying hydrated also helps to relieve stress and reduce acid elevation in the pH.

Exercise is also a key element in pain reduction. Exercise pumps lymphatics and prompts endorphin release, which blocks pain signals and makes you feel better. So, exercise helps you both emotionally and biochemically with pain as long as you don’t put undue stress on injured areas of the body. Stretching, yoga and Tai Chi and are all helpful for pain management.

Adaptagenic herbs are a key element in controlling adrenal and stress responses, which in turn will help with pain management. Suma Combination and Adaptamax work well with Fibromyalgia and other pain related issues that are triggered with stress. Nervous Fatigue Formula helps to calm the nerves and makes it easier to relax so you can sleep and rejuvenate.

Adrenal Support is a glandular that helps rebuild an exhausted adrenal and works well in conjunction to support thyroid for those on thyroid meds. Nature’s Cortisol formula can help with those who experience prolonged elevated cortisol levels thus leading to inflammation and nerve irritation. Essential Fatty Acids are also very important in nerve health and help with glycolosis to support the movement initiated by the adrenals.

Antispasmodics like kava kava and lobelia can relax muscle spasms to further reduce stress and pain. Magnesium is a valuable mineral for easing tension and reducing stress and pain due to muscle tension.

So, when considering ways of managing pain, don’t forget to manage stress at the same time. This duel approach will increase your effectiveness at easing both.