In 1983, Time magazine declared stress “the epidemic of the 80’s”. However, when compared to today’s pace, the 80’s seem almost leisurely. Evidence of stress-related illness in all age groups is becoming more and more common. Whether it is everyday annoyances such as being stuck in traffic, or more acute forms of stress, such as bereavement or divorce, stress is something that each of us copes with daily. One thing is certain. Stress effects each of us , but often in very different ways.
For some, a certain amount of stress can be a stimulant causing them to meet challenges and achieve goals. Others, coping with similar stresses may be overwhelmed, suffering mental fatigue and physical illness. There’s no way to predict with certainty how any given individual will respond to stress.
Stress Can Make You SickIt is unusual to go through a day without reading or hearing about stress. According to conservative estimates, abnormal stress is a major contributing factor in 75% of all human illnesses. All of us suffer from occasional stress. Few are immune to worries or anxieties associated family or work. However, when occasional stress becomes chronic, or when we suffer acute stress through illness, job loss, trauma or injury, your body responds and adapts in ways that are often unhealthy.
The sources of stress can be physical, as with accidents, overexertion, or poor posture, or mental, as with death of a loved one or an unpaid bill. While there are differences in individuals , stress produces many common reactions. Emotionally, stress can lead to depression, anxiety, and anger. Physically, stress has been implicated in conditions ranging from backaches to headaches, high blood pressure, heart disease, depressed immune system response, asthma, colds, infections and digestive disorders.
How Does Stress Affect My Body?Healthy muscles contract and relax as you move. But when muscles tense in response to stress, they can't relax fully. When the stress persists, the muscles become tight- like knots in a rope. Tight muscles can pull joints out of alignment, irritating nerves and causing pain. If your spine is misaligned, the rest of your body becomes even more prone to stress and disease.
A Major Cause of StressWhen spinal bones lose their normal position and motion from stress, trauma, or chemical imbalances, this disturbance to the spinal cord can profoundly affect delicate nerve tissue. The resulting interference with normal nerve flow starts a degenerative chain reaction that can affect the health and function of virtually every other cell, tissue, organ and system of the body. Doctors call this the vertebral subluxation complex. It is one of the most damaging stresses you can experience. Untreated, it can limit your ability to react and adapt to other stresses you encounter in everyday life.
How Chiropractic Can HelpDoctors of Chiropractic are the only professionals trained and educated in the diagnosis and correction of the vertebral subluxation complex. Medical management of illness too often treated the symptoms rather than the causes. The chiropractic approach is based on finding and correcting interferences to your body’s natural state of good health. By removing vertebral subluxations from your body, your nervous system can function as it should, leaving you better able to cope with stress, both physical and mental.
Your chiropractor’s primary tool in the treating the vertebral subluxation complex is the use of manipulation or the spinal adjustment. By applying precisely directed force to a joint that is out of position or not moving properly it is gradually restored to a more normal position and function. Depending on what is required by your individual problem, the doctors hands or a special instrument may be used to deliver quick, therapeutic thrust to the affected joint. Other adjustments may require slow, constant pressure.
Your Doctor of Chiropractic can also counsel you regarding lifestyle modification and relaxation techniques to help in dealing with stress.
HistoryTo help find the cause of your pain, you and your chiropractor discuss your symptoms, any prior injuries, your health history, and your lifestyle, including sources of stress in your work and home life.
Physical ExamPhysical, orthopedic, and neurological tests can help reveal the effects of stress on your muscles and joints. Static and motion palpation tests check for pain, stiffness, and restricted range of motion. Your chiropractor may also check your gait ( the way you walk) and the way you sit and stand.
X-raysAs " blueprints" of your bones, x-rays can reveal misaligned joints in your spine and legs. Other tests may be done, if needed.
What You Can DoWe all know someone who seems to lead a busy, seemingly stressful life and yet thrives on it. This may lead you to suspect that it’s not how much stress you have in your life, but how you handle it. Even though many of us could stand to reduce the amount of stress in our lives, this is not the whole answer. In many cases, it’s not even possible. There are however, a number of suggestions to be considered, even if you can’t reduce your own burden of stress.
Begin by ruling out vertebral subluxation through a chiropractic checkup. Talk with your doctor about relaxation and meditation techniques for reducing stress. Plan to make moderate exercise a regular part of your life. As simple as it sounds, walking for 30 minutes at least three times weekly can be a remarkable stress-reliever. Get the right amount of sleep. For most people this is seven of eight hours nightly. Adopt healthier eating habits. People living busy lives may not treat this with the importance it deserves.
You can't get rid of stress in your life, but you can learn to manage it. Your chiropractor can suggest a stress reduction program for you. It may include muscle relaxation, deep breathing, exercise, visualization to clear your mind, proper diet, and enough rest.
Cultivate a positive outlook. Your own attitude is one thing that you can control that can make everything else in life better.