Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Can stress effect my pain?

We all know that stress is bad for us; it increases our risk for heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Did you also know that stress can effect your physical pain?

Our body doesn't know if you are stressed because you're being chased by a tiger or you have a rapidly approaching deadline for a major project; it reacts the same way. When you feel stressed your autonomic nervous system (ANS) is heightened causing increased heart rate, perspiration, and lightheadedness. From a musculoskeletal standpoint, your muscles will become hypertonic, or contract to a certain degree, without your knowledge. Again, since your body isn't sure what is actually stressing your system, it wants to be at the ready in case you do need to outrun a tiger.

If you're stressed on a regular basis, your ANS will "stay turned on" all the time. If you continue to live your life with a small amount of muscle hypertonicity (where your muscles are slightly contracted), you will no longer have normal mobilization of your joints. This can cause malalignments of those joints causing nerve compression and additional muscle spasm. Our bodies need to have muscles turn on and off in very specific ways in order to function in a biomechanically correct and pain-free way. If we are constantly trying to move around hypertonic/spasmed groups of muscle, we are bound to run into problems. Not only may you notice this as increased physical pain, you may also notice increased healing time or that you "just don't bounce back the way you used to."

At CORE Services, we offer physical therapy, biofeedback, and counseling services to help correct this dysfunction from all angles. If you feel like your stress is effecting your pain and would like to know more about how we can help, give us a call and set up an appointment!

For more on autonomic nervous system disorders, see the article here from the Mayo Clinic.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Waking with a headache? This may be why:

Many people typically wake with a headache that will eventually dissipate as the day progresses. While there may be many reasons as to why this occurs, at CORE Services, Inc. we tend to see this problem tied to sleep dysfunction.

A clear sign of poor sleep is snoring which may be the result of excessive adipose tissue around the neck, sinus congestion, or a temperomandibular (jaw joint) dysfunction. Snoring is a clear sign of an airway obstruction making the windpipe smaller, a person will do several things to make breathing easier.

The first thing is that the person will extend their head (causing their chin to jut out and eyes to look upward) to physically open up the windpipe. This puts the cervical spine in a hyperlordotic position and can cause excess pressure on nerve roots as they exit the spine. This may cause neck, shoulder, or arm pain upon wake. Additionally, this malalignment of the cervical spine also places the jaw joint in bad position which further squishes the windpipe and may eventually cause the jaw joint to dislocate.

A person will also begin using the accessory respiratory muscles (located in the face, neck, and upper shoulder area) to help pull air in through the airway. This may cause spinal malalignments, muscle hypertonia (muscles are active at rest), and nerve impingement.

All of these issues will cause a tension headache upon waking which typically presents behind one or both eyes, back of the head, and/or neck. If pain, clicking, or difficulty closing/opening the jaw are noted, it is safe to assume the jaw joint is being overly exerted during sleep and needs to be assessed right away.

If you believe you may have this problem, see a therapist at CORE Services, Inc for an evaluation. They will help to find the source of the problem, work on resolving the issue, and refer you on to other necessary health care providers if necessary. Not only will addressing this issue help with your headache pain, you'll also get better quality sleep leaving your more energized, and will inhibit further progression of the problem which may even save your life!