Stress: A Chronic Pain (CRPS/RSD) Warrior’s Worst Enemy

Written by Gabe King for the RSDSA blog.

Gabe is back this week to blog about stress, the impact it has on CRPS/RSD and chronic pain, and how to try to manage it. While stress is an inevitable part of life, there are certainly ways to manage it.

“…Chaos calls but all you really need…Is to just breathe.” -Johnny Diaz, “Breathe”

Stress is a normal part of everyday life. It starts as soon as you wake up: getting kids ready for school, finishing a major project for work, or preparing for a big family meal. These are normal, mostly every day, stresses of life. Often times, for the typical human being, it can be hard not to allow these stresses to get the best of you.

Now, add chronic pain into the scenario.

Stress is one of the most vicious attackers a chronic pain warrior can face. If we allow it, it can easily wrap its nasty claws around our neck and choke the energy right out of us, vital energy we use to ward off our pain. This permits our pain to surge out of control and leaves many of us bedridden for weeks on end.

How do you combat this?

Stress is defined as this,

“Stress is often described as a feeling of being overwhelmed, worried or run-down. Stress can affect people of all ages, genders and circumstances and can lead to both physical and psychological health issues. By definition, stress is any uncomfortable “emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological and behavioral changes.” Some stress can be beneficial at times, producing a boost that provides the drive and energy to help people get through situations like exams or work deadlines. However, an extreme amount of stress can have health consequences and adversely affect the immune, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine and central nervous systems.”

That is why, in most cases, stress can be one of the many variables that causes us to have chronic pain.

In article written by Susanne Babbel Ph.D., M.F.T., she states:

“…Experts have noticed that experiencing a traumatic event can have an impact on the development of pain. In fact, approximately 15-30% of patients with chronic pain also have PTSD…During a traumatic event, the nervous system goes into survival mode (the sympathetic nervous system) and sometimes has difficulty reverting back into its normal, relaxed mode again (the parasympathetic nervous system). If the nervous system stays in survival mode, stress hormones such as cortisol are constantly released, causing an increase in blood pressure and blood sugar, which can in turn reduce the immune system’s ability to heal. Physical symptoms start to manifest when the body is in constant distress…”

The definition of a traumatic event is: “A is an incident that causes physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological harm. The person experiencing the distressing event may feel threatened, anxious, or frightened as a result.” (Source)

This can be either living through a tornado or even as simple as pushing yourself extremely too far past your physical limits.

Information is great and all, but that still does not tell us how to combat stress.

Well, Valerie Bertinelli puts it best.

“…There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not.”

Stress is normal. The catch is whether or not you will let yourself believe it. It is not going to be easy. Nothing ever is in life.

All it takes is one step in the right direction.

Down below, I am going to leave links to several sites that I have found to be quite helpful with showing techniques of how to cope with stress. I hope they are of great use to you as your journey continues.

The 10 Ways to Help with Work Tension

Stress Management

Dealing with Stress – Top Tips

Caregiver Stress Prevention Guide

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