How our body reacts to stress
Our body firstly determines if a situation is stressful or not, by using our sensory and input sensors, and combining with our stored memories.
If the situation is thought to be stressful then the hypothalmus is activated. This will then send a signal to The Pituary Gland and The Adrenal Medulla.
The short term response is to produce 'The Fight and Flight Response' via Sympatho-medullary Pathway (SAM) and the long term response is regulated through Hypothalamic Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) system.
Short Term Response - Fight or Flight
The Adrenal Medulla secretes Adrenaline with triggers the sympathetic nervous system causing:
- Increased Heart Rate
- Increased Blood Pressure
- Increased Sweating
- Decreased Digestion
Once the stressor has stopped the parasympathetic nervous system takes control and brings back the balance.
Long Term Response
HPA stimulates the release of Coritsol from the Adrenal Cortex, which controls the body's ability to steady the supply of blood sugar. This response allows a person to cope with a prolonged stressor and help the body to return to normal state.
The effects of a long term stressor is a decrease in immune system, making them more prone to illness, disease and injury.
Effects of stress
The symptoms of stress can effect your body, thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
Below is a list of some of the common effects of stress:
- Temporomandibular joint disorder
- Muscles tension
- Chest pain
- Stomach upsets
- Sleep disruption
- Change in sex drive
- Lack of motivation
- Sad or depressed
- Overeating or Undereating
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of exercise
- Plus many more
Stress causes pain or pain causes stress?
Stress and pain are very closely linked together. But does stress cause pain or does pain cause stress?
Chapman et al, 2008, studied a review of psycho-physiological systems in relation to pain whereby a physical injury or wounding can generate a complex stress response. They concluded that acute pain is an effect of multiple dimensions and are products of the bodies supersystem. They also proposed that when the supersystem is dysregulated, then health, function and sense of well being suffer and can be a result of chronic pain.
Stress realted Musculoskeletal Pain
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
The temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) is formed from the articulation of the mandible and the temporal bone of cranium. The joint is unique as the surfaces do not touch as they are separated by an articular disc.
The joint is surrounded by three ligaments:
- Lateral Ligament
- Spehnoid-mandibular Ligament
- Stylo-mandibular ligament
The movement of the joint is produced by the muscles of mastication. These cause the mouth to protrude and retract, as well as opening and closing the mouth.
The TMJ is innervated by the auriculo-temporal and masserteric branches of the mandibular nerve (CN V3).
Factors affecting the joint
There are a range of factors which can effect the joint and result in pain or dysfunction:
- Chronic Pain Syndromes which cause an increased sensitivity to pain
- Muscle over activity - grinding teeth, clenching jaw
- Dental issues
- Intra-articular disc degeneration
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Hypermobility or hypomobility
Symptoms can vary on individual bases and there maybe other factors that are causing the dysfunction:
- Pain around joint or referred to head, neck or ear.
- Restricted jaw movements
- Jaw noises
- Ear ache
- Neck Pain
- Locking episodes
Treatment is usually non surgical and can consist of manual therapy and lifestyle changes.
Manual Therapy such as Chiropractic therapy, Physiotherapy, Massage Therapy etc/
- Resting joint by eating soft food and avoid chewing gum.
- Using hot water bottle or ice pack on joint.
- Stretching jaw and home exercises.
- Avoid opening jaw wide and clenching teeth.
- Relaxation techniques to decrease stress.
- Painkillers such as paracetomol, iburprofen, NSAIDS.
- Steroid injections to reduce swelling and help with pain.
Surgery is uncommon for TMJ disorder but can consist or Arthrocentesis, open joint surgery or very rarely total joint replacement.
Can we help?
Here at The Whitchurch Clinic we are committed to helping you on your road to recovery. Through a detailed case history with/without an examination we can advised if we are able to assist with your complaint. If we feel that we are unable to help we will point you in the right direction.
Our Chiropractic team can help through:
- Soft tissue massage
- Trigger point therapy
- Acupuncture/dry needling
- Home exercises/stretches
- Ergonomic and postural advice
Other treatments that might help with back pain available at TWC:
- Hypnotherapy for stress management and help reduce tension
- Deep tissue massage to help release trigger points
- Diet advice
To summarise there are many contributing factors to stress and it is important to identify the cause. If you are not sure what is causing stress or if you are unable to control your levels of stress then it you will need to seek professional help.
As with any new symptoms it is always important to visit your GP or Chiropractor to rule out any other disorders before reaching a diagnosis yourself.
How Hypnotherapy can help with Stress
Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure.
Pressure turns into stress when you feel unable to cope. People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may be motivating to someone else.
Many of life’s demands can cause stress, particularly work, relationships and money problems. When you feel stressed, it can get in the way of sorting out these demands, or can even affect everything you do.
Stress can affect how you feel, think, behave and how your body works. Common signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating.
You may feel anxious, irritable or low, and you may have racing thoughts, worry constantly or go over things in your head. You may notice that you lose your temper more easily, drink more or act unreasonably. You may also experience headaches, muscle tension or pain, or dizziness.
Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body. These stress hormones are released to enable you to deal with pressures or threats – the so-called "fight or flight" response. Once the pressure or threat has passed, your stress hormone levels will usually return to normal.
However, if you're constantly under stress, these hormones will remain in your body, leading to the symptoms of stress, which can cause other illnesses.
Hypnotherapy is a positively great way to help alleviate and manage stress on a daily basis, as it works with our minds and bodies.
For more information on hypnotherapy visit: