Hey, Supermom…your stress and anxiety are affecting your ability to heal!
If you are someone that is dealing with anxiety and stress, it is very likely affecting your ability to bounce back from injury. Let’s break down the why and how.
Why does stress/anxiety matter when treating pain?
When there is consistent stress and anxiety present, the brain releases a stress hormone in the brain. This stress hormone can be cortisol or adrenaline. These chemicals affect the function of the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and spinal cord. All pain interpretation takes place in the brain. Stress hormones cause the central nervous system to be more sensitive, so with increased sensitivity in the nervous system, the interpretation of pain changes and is often increased. In short, there can be a direct link between stress chemicals released in the brain and the pain that a patient is feeling.
How does this affect activity?
When the central nervous system sensitivity is increased, it takes less physical activity before messages sent to the brain are interpreted as pain. So, the same level of activity that someone may have done for years is now causing pain (note, pain does not have anything to do with actual injury severity or the amount of damage to a body part). This is the aspect of the rehab process that many busy moms find difficult. Because the system is more sensitive, they have to slowly build back up their activity, but they don’t want to do that. Most people want to get back to their old workout that they are comfortable with because it required less stress. Not to mention that the fact that they can’t workout is causing more stress and anxiety. This requires a lot of attention to the exercise and the dosage of exercise. It is painstaking but can certainly teach us a lot about our bodies.
So what can the patient with anxiety do to decrease pain?
If you are reading this blog then you are already doing it! Patients must be open and honest with themselves if stress/anxiety is an issue, and that alone can help pain. More importantly, find professionals that understand your busy life and will work with you to find solutions. Once you have the right team involved, you can begin to unpack the problems and treat them with proper exercise and dosing. Dosing exercise appropriately is one of the most difficult jobs I have. It must be taken seriously because people with significant pain can get a lot worse with the wrong dosage or type of exercise.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.