Does Stress Cause Pain?


Stress is  a major contributor in stubborn pain conditions. In particularly bad cases we might even find that we become unresponsive to treatment.

I have met countless people over the years who’ve had excellent treatment from their physiotherapist, expertly made orthotics from their podiatrist, skilled adjustments from their chiropractor all for very real issues in their body but who have got no relief from any of it .. purely because of stress.

I meet a lot of people who have found stress is a major contributor to their back pain, knee pain shoulder pain, plantar fasciitis, heel pain,  neck pain etc. I sometimes meet those for who stress has no obvious effect on their pain. I also meet many people who have pain that is effected by stress but who haven’t realised it yet .: this blog is dedicated to them.

What is stress ?

Before we go any further let’s look at what stress actually is for a moment….

Stress is a term we use to describe the cocktail of circumstancesthoughts & feelings that arise during ‘stressful times’. Circumstances happen outside of and around the body… they are not the stress we feel they are a trigger. Thoughts happen in the brain… they are usually made up of remembered or imagined images – sounds – words etc. Emotions happen in the body .. feelings !!!

Being stressed’ or ‘feeling stressed’ is how we refer to the emotions we feel around our circumstances and thoughts ( bad situation arises – I think about how bad it is – I feel shitty )…. so emotions are a physical event in the body separate from thought and situation. !

So what does science say about this ? Well the surprising thing is that not only do we know exactly what emotion is made of,  we know that it essentially exists in all animals from the top to the bottom of the cleverness tree.

You have probably heard of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical neurotransmitter that exists both in the brain and body. Dopamine is most famously in charge of rewarding us for good biological behaviour ( like winning money, scoring a goal at football or kissing someone we really like ).

Molecules like dopamine are the molecules of emotion and they act right through the entire body. And here’s the surprise part .. these chemicals are found in the BODIES of every single animal species on the planet from higher life forms right down to Australians and single cell organisms .. so it’s official .. emotions are a very real chemistry within the tissues of all living things !

What the research is also gradually revealing is that substances like dopamine are far from being simple touchy feely behavioural molecules . These type of neurotransmitters are profoundly intertwined with the function of our bodies cells in their efforts to maintain health. This is why they can effect our pain levels so profoundly.

Conclusion …

So in a nutshell we are learning ( and hopefully feeling ) that emotions are a deeply physical , deeply cellular part of life that effect the function of our bodies. So maybe it’s no surprise that they can have such a dramatic effect on back pain, neck pain, hip pain, plantar fasciitis,  knee pain, shoulder pain and the like !!!

If you are looking to work towards living with less pain or maybe trying to make some decisions about where you should put your effort into getting your body stronger and more ‘pain proof’ we can usually help.

We believe that pain ‘relief’ is important but we also believe that pain ‘resolution’ is important too. Many of our customers find log term relief is possibly through combinations of custom exercise programs, orthotic prescription and a wide range of other techniques.

We specialise in helping people who have basically ‘had enough’ and also those who have struggled to get relief with their doctors chiropractors, osteopaths, acupuncturists and physiotherapists by combining and stacking forms of treatment and rehabilitation .. if this all sounds interesting to you please feel free to get in touch.

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