It is a fact that stress is related to pain and body aches. Every day I hear complaints of pain while rehabilitating patients back to health. In order to treat patients I first have to figure out where the pain is coming from and how it affects the individual. People deal with pain differently. The first day of physical therapy a patient is evaluated and a history of symptoms and past/current functional status are established through questions and answers. Many patients are dealing with every day stress and that does affect their progress in Physical Therapy. It is important to take into consideration their emotional state when treating the individual.
Musculoskeletal pains are aches that occur in the bones, joints, and muscles. Inflammation in the musculoskeletal system is also stress-induced. Studies have shown increased work-related stressors are related to musculoskeletal pain. Additional studies have shown a correlation between increased depressive symptoms and reported stress with neck/shoulder pain and low back pain in adolescents. Other researchers have demonstrated that perceived stress is correlated closely with the complaint of musculoskeletal symptoms such as shoulder, foot, and low back pain.
The effects of stress are often considered to be primarily emotional. However, stress is as damaging to the body physically as it is emotionally. In addition to insomnia, stress can play a major role in depression, cognitive dysfunction, digestive disorders, weight gain and muscle and joint pain.
Follow these 10 simple tips and you could be on your way to reducing the stress in your life and easing the pain you feel from osteoarthritis.
Easy walks, swimming, and biking can all help reduce stress in your life. Exercise can take your mind off the day’s worries. Even better, exercise helps release endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that give us a “happy boost.” As with any exercise, ease into it and consult your doctor to make sure you won’t add strain to your body’s current pain.
Eat Well, Lose Weight
Being overweight adds to the physical strain on your body and can cause further pain in your joints. By changing your diet and incorporating exercise into your daily routine, you can naturally lose weight and reduce overall stress. Add fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and food high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, walnuts, and olive oil to your diet. Rid your diet of processed foods and sugar. These foods cause most inflammation in the body.
Regular massages are a fantastic way to relieve stress. Massage from a trained therapist can be beneficial for numerous conditions. An hour on a massage table can loosen muscles and joints and provide pain relief.
Proponents of acupuncture, a part of traditional Chinese medicine, say the treatment allows your body’s energy to flow more openly by strategically placing thin needles into specific points in your skin. Advocates claim that by helping your internal energy flow, you can reduce stress and possibly heal specific pain.
Wine and a Bath
Pour a glass of wine, light some candles, and descend into a warm bath or whirlpool spa. Setting aside this type of time may seem trivial but it’s important to relax and lower stress in a private environment. Also, red wine contains an antioxidant called resveratrol that may reduce damage to blood vessels and prevent blood clots. The warm water in the tub can provide temporary relief of some joint pain. Add bath salts to your soak to increase relaxation. I recommend Epsom salt for its natural pain-relieving abilities.
People have been practicing yoga for centuries, and its impact still has great relevance today. Yoga helps stretch your muscles and build strength, both of which are beneficial to people with arthritis. Yoga supporters also feel it brings internal harmony to your body while relaxing your mind. If you practice yoga even once a week for 90 minutes, it can help reduce stress in your joints and ease pain.
Meditation helps calm your mind. Start by either sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position or in a chair with both feet on the floor. Take deep breaths and try to focus on a point in your mind, clearing your thoughts. The meditative act will help you slow your breathing and focus your attention away from burdensome thoughts.
Channel your stress into a creative outlet, like photography or painting. Sitting down at a canvas or taking a camera out with you on a walk in the city or countryside lets you focus your attention in a creative space.
Volunteer with Children (and Laugh!)
Kids often have the ability to make us laugh with their infinite energy and imaginations, and laughter has proven benefits that can aid in reducing stress and tension in the body. When you laugh, you release powerful endorphins that deliver warm feelings, further relaxing you and your muscles.
If you live in the Monmouth or Ocean County area and you are suffering from foot pain, please call our office, Affiliated Foot and Ankle Center, located in Howell NJ.
By Valerie Gregory