February 21, 2020
Chronic Neck, Shoulder and Back Tension, Non-Response to Treatment and Pain

Chronic Neck, Shoulder and Back Tension, Non-Response to Treatment and Pain

Hi, I’m Robin šŸ™‚ Thank you for tuning in. In
the introductory video, we talked about how a variety of signs and symptoms that
do not really seem to be connected to each other, can actually be linked back
to one common underlying cause and that is a persistent stress response. In this
video we will talk in more detail about how a stress switch that’s stuck in the
“on” position specifically can impact chronic muscle tension and non-response
to treatment, as well as how that’s related to pain. All right, as a quick
revision: if the brain perceives that we’re in a difficult
situation, it has the power to switch us into
“survival mode”, and you will recognise that as the fight-or-flight response,
which is fantastic. And you will remember that it is mainly related to two
powerful hormones that get released into the body in that moment, which is
adrenaline and cortisol. The adrenaline is making sure that our muscles are
ready to run away or to attack, it increases our heart rate, it increases
our rate of breathing and sharpens our vision a little bit. And the cortisol on
the other hand helps with a good immune response in the moment as well as making
glucose available so that the muscles have the energy that they need to
perform. So, in the moment that’s fantastic, however if the stress which is
then stuck in the “on” position, the adrenaline in the body longer term has a
damaging effect on the blood vessels and on the muscles as well. Also, the muscles
are pretty much constantly in a state of repair and not recovering completely, and
the inflammatory response with the added cortisol adds to the
dilemma as well. So, unfortunately, over time, if the stress switch is in the “on”
position, that fear response can start impacting the posture even. Now, if you’ve
ever seen an animal in distress, it will start protecting the vulnerable parts of
the front of the body, will keep a very, very low profile. And we see a lot of
posture like that clinically as well – and yes, there are some situations in which
desk setup or being on your phone for too long can have an impact on that.
However, we’re talking about really chronic conditions here where the
shoulders starts rolling inwards, there’s really persistent chronic neck and
shoulder tension, neck pain because the mobility is reduced and you’re not sleeping
properly, and this is definitely related to the underlying fear and survival
response, the underlying stress response. This is the the paradigm shift here: you
can have a problem that looks like a musculoskeletal problem, but the issue is
actually happening in the brain where the stress which is stuck in the “on”
position! This is where it’s coming from and this is how that’s impacting you. If you have a persistent stress response and you’re
saying “Oh, it’s not a problem! I’ve got a chiropractor / physio / acupuncturist /
massage therapist, and they can get me sorted out!” Right?
Well, unfortunately if your brain is in survival mode, it will try to protect
itself against a change in posture and it will also, as long as the hormones are
still getting released from the brain and flooding the body, even if
the muscles get loosened up, over time, because the hormones still get released,
they tighten up over time again. And that means that you need to come back more
often, treatment is not as effective anymore.
That means that over time then the treatment has to be closer and
closer together, then it doesn’t have the same impact in terms of
you’re not really getting better, you’re just keeping things at bay. And then
you’re reaching a point were the treatment itself is not working to keep
it at bay and things are actually getting worse. And this unfortunately is
a byproduct of that stress response, and this is the very important first
takeaway message: as long as the stress response on the brain level is not addressed,
the treatment is not going to be effective and it’s not going to get rid
of the actual underlying issue. So that’s the number one thing. This is where we’re
talking about chronic tension and we’re talking about non-response to treatment.
Now the second component that’s really important to know is that how that other
hormone, the cortisol that initially impacts the immune response and the
release of glucose also plays a role in that. Unfortunately, with cortisol levels
in your system all the time, one area of the brain gets damaged,
and this area is called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible to form
memories and to integrate emotional experiences and to form memories related
to fear and pain as well. Because if you’re in a painful situation, your body
wants to make sure it remembers that so that in the future you aren’t getting
yourself in the same situation again. Now how does it relate to the stress
response? Well, unfortunately over time if the cortisol levels are stuck
like we talked about in the other video, then even things that were not painful
initially get picked up by the hippocampus as a painful memory, and
things that already were painful, the pain response gets increased. The things
that were a little bit painful before then become really, really really painful.
And this over time just keeps getting worse because, like a sponge, those
receptors that just suck up the hormones and the the pain memories keep getting
piled on top of each other, and it is something that creates somewhat severe
health conditions. There’s good research out now that is linking things like
fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic pelvic pain, but also temporal mandibular
joint TMJ dysfunction and tension and problems as well as chronic lower back
pain and sciatica! Those, in certain situations, can be linked to an
underlying persistent stress response, an undiagnosed persistent stress
response. So it’s really, really important that those things that masquerade as
musculoskeletal conditions, in order to really get down to the bottom of it,
sometimes it requires looking a little bit deeper and to look into the
stress response as well. Alright, so I hope that this was helpful. If this
brought up any questions and you would like more information, by all means
please get in touch. Ideally, I would love to see you for an
assessment. Come in, get checked out making sure that everything is in order.
The team and myself here at Chirofamily look forward to doing whatever is in
our power to contribute to your health and happiness here at Chirofamily. We
look forward to seeing you soon šŸ™‚

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