In the western world, we are no strangers to stress.
Unfortunately stress dominates many of us on a daily basis. It seems stress in society is only increasing. So what is stress and how can we manage it?
Stress manifests itself in many forms, including social, psychological, biological and physical. Our focus on the word stress in this article generally involves our coping ability on a daily basis.
When stressed, our coping ability is not equal to the situations or problems we face. What we could normally handle becomes intolerable or unbearable. What does this result in?
- Neck, back and general muscle pain
- Increased temper or frustration
- Digestive complaints including indigestion, reflux, IBS etc.
- Weight gain/loss
- Poor eating/drinking habits
Honestly the list goes on. When a client says they are stressed, it’s interesting to see how it manifests for them. At the heart of many acupuncture treatments here in Brisbane, stress is common complaint.
So how do you go about dealing with stress?
- STOP. Just stop for one moment, take 5, 10 even 30 minutes out of your life on a daily basis and ask yourself what is my intention and what is my outcome? All too often we begin to lose our ability to focus when we are stressed and end up in a frantic rush, or so it seems.
- You are not your job! Yes I’m quoting fight club. There is more to life than your job. If you disagree then that’s ok – Start to implement regular 5-10min breaks to stop and revive. Look at alternate work if you aren’t happy. Move to a different area. There are many strategies to alleviate stress in your career.
- Your diet. The majority of people’s food and drink choices turn south when they are stressed. Take away, coffee, alcohol, soft drinks and sugary snacks creep on to the menu. These critters give you a ‘high’ for a short period of time, but ultimately poor eating choices will leave you dehydrated, exhausted and vitamin depleted.
- Exercise. You must incorporate a routine. I’m not going to quote the plethora of studies out there on the benefits of exercise. Move it or lose it.
So now you have the basics, how can we help? For starters, an Acupuncture treatment is a fantastic way to relax and regather your thoughts. Studies are ongoing to provide an insight into the mechanisms behind Acupuncture and the reduction of symptoms associated with stress.
We also help you create a strategy for dealing with stress on a daily basis. So often clients feel that they are helpless or ‘stuck’ in certain situations. We help you take your power back to create positive change in your life. This will be geared toward the individual, from simple meditations/affirmations, to shifts in thought patterns/habits.
With roughly 21,000 articles, clinical trials and other western research available, its evident back pain affects a large amount of patients.
In fact so severe in some cases, patients resort to drastic measures to relieve pain, in the form of stimulator implants.
The implants send electrical pulses which interfere with nerve signals, dulling the pain. Spinal fusion surgery is also a common intervention, where vertebrae are fused or linked together.
So medically, what causes back pain? Well, a variety of issues according to western medicine. The most obvious: Excessive load. This has been supported and demonstrated by numerous studies. It’s worth noting that the Chinese already knew this some 2000 years ago. Common sense prevails! But what if you’re mainly the office type who sits ‘upright’ in a chair all day? Well consider this. Lets say for arguments sake the average female and male weigh 70 and 86kg respectively (according to the bureau of statistics) . Take half your body weight, apply the law of gravity whilst sitting awkwardly. Your poor back won’t appreciate hunched shoulders, and a mild slump whilst typing like a nutty professor.
Without getting too scientifically involved (we like simple words!), pain mechanisms generally involve nociceptors, which are nerve cells that send signals to the brain and spinal cord essentially sending ‘pain’ signals. What causes them to send the signals? A variety of stimuli including temperature, pressure, and injury-related chemicals. Essentially these cells are sending electrical signals back to higher brain centers. Whilst drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin seek to inhibit prostaglandins (lipids formed around the site of pain as part of the normal inflammatory response), they do not target the source of the pain, providing relief only. Furthermore, long term use can lead to complications such as gastric ulcers, bleeding and perforation, to name just a few. Unfortunately one of the prostaglandin types it prohibits actually protects the stomach lining from stomach acid. Ultimately gastrointestinal complications like this arise because the stomach/intestines are essentially losing their natural protection layer.
So how can acupuncture assist in relieving pain? Simply put, Acupuncture may act as an analgesic, a natural way of blocking the pain signals to the brain.
Scientific jargon aside, we work holistically too, because we would rather treat the source. Apart from constitutional, physical and energetic differences we all have, we can also explore emotional connections to back pain. Upper back and shoulder pain could be a phase where it feels like a weight is on your shoulders. Mid back pain may be refer to something or someone squeezing the life out of you. Lower back pain often correlates with finance or support issues.
We’d like to think that surgery would be the last port of call for patients, so we feel that it’s important to look at back pain holistically. If you do experience back pain then contact us to discuss your treatment options or book an appointment.