Tuesday, 15 May 2018

3 Lifestyle Influencers Of Pain

Posture? Training error? Mechanical form? Many people think that physical, musculoskeletal factors are the only ones involved in the creation or persistence of pain. Let's take a look back on some past discussions, however, and remind ourselves of some of the lifestyle situations that may be exacerbating the way that we feel.

Smoking

Understandably, the research of nicotine's effect on pain is much less thorough than on its effect on other annoying health concerns such as LUNG CANCER. However, I digress...

Despite the number of people who use smoking as a coping mechanism for their body and head pain, lets remember that pain sensitivity is going to be increased by nicotine withdrawal in the first place. Even so, some individuals report increased pain tolerance in general, but this could actually be attributed to nicotine causing damage to the nerves themselves.

What's more, if you suffer from any kind of neurogenic pain or fibromyalgia, you pain may be made even worse without even the option of being dulled by a cigarette.

Sleep

In our busy world of one in three Canadians not getting adequate amounts of sleep, this is an important aspect of life to look at.

While sleep deprivation does definitely correlate strongly with increased perceptions and sensitivity to pain, the relationship is actually a little indirect. Rather, that sleep deprivation can increase depressive symptoms and anxiety which are mental factors that more-directly effect pain sensitivity themselves.

And you can also consider the fact that increased pain increases sleep disturbances as well, further affecting this spiral.

Stress

It's easy to understand that stress has a massive effect on the body's functions, from cognitive to immune and everything in between.

The stress hormone, cortisol, is released during periods of stress to assist the flight or fight response. When cortisol levels are heightened for a prolonged period of time, however, individuals will begin to experience a decreased pain threshold and increased pain sensitivity.

On the bright side, aside from physical rehab alone, this also opens the doorway for mental health treatments, even those as simple as meditation, to have positive impacts on helping individuals recover from pain.


As suggested when it comes to stress, pointing out these lifestyle influencers on pain isn't meant to show how hard it is to subvert it; rather, it opens avenues for us to address when physical treatment alone isn't enough. Support for quitting addictive behaviours, careful consideration of sleep, and proper management of stress are all extra tools that can be used in order to help win the battle against pain. All in all, this demonstrates the importance of looking at pain and other lifestyle health factors as a closely-related cascade rather than separate entities.


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