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Now I know I don’t need to tell you that for many the last 12 months has been incredibly stressful. Maybe you have feared for the continued trading or your business, been concerned for your family, struggled to home-school your children, been concerned for your own health or even ALL of the above.  All of these stressors, and many I haven’t mentioned, can produce persistent pain.

Many people are aware when they feel stressed and the effects that may have on them but not so many know about the direct link between stress and pain. The pain may seem to start with a physical injury but persists for more than 3 months. Alternatively, the pain may have come on for seemingly no reason or it may come back in an area where there has been pain before.

The latest pain science shows us that pain can be present without actual tissue damage. If you have suffered with low back pain in the past it may come back to that area even though you didn’t do anything to physically injure yourself. This is where we need to look back at what else was going on at the onset of the pain. Very often this can be a stressful incident rather than an accident.

The latest definition of pain has been updated to reflect this. ‘Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage’

The pain is real, it can be anywhere from dull ache to excruciating and it is certainly not in your head but it may be as a result of a neural adaption rather than damage. Stress causes our bodies to be on high alert. Historically this was so we could run away from or fight the predator that was out to get us. In modern times our body still reacts the same even though the stressor may be the result of the pandemic which sadly we cannot run away from. The response to a stressful situation may be instant. A rise in the level of stress hormones such as cortisol and an increase in muscular tension in preparation for evasive action. However if we don’t run away we don’t normalise these changes and our body stays in a highly charged state and this can eventually cause pain either due to prolonged tension or minor inflammatory changes.

So what can you do about it?

It is possible to retrain the neural adaptions by understanding the reasons behind them and then teaching the body to change its response.

Our Osteopaths at Osteopathy For All are also SIRPA Trained practitioners. (Stress Illness Recovery Practitioners Association) This training gives us the ability to work with people experiencing persistent pain and once we have ruled out any more serious problems, such as damage or infection, we are able to gently help reduce the tension in the body and also give you strategies to decrease the effects of stress on the nervous system.

So if the pandemic has been a persistent pain in the ………… (insert area of the body that hurts here !) for you please do contact us for more information. hello@osteopathyforall.co.uk

Pippa Cossens: Registered Osteopath and Stress Illness Recovery Practitioner.

Find out more about our approach to stress and persistent pain