Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘stress’

“Pop The Stress Out”

Posted by Dr. Gray on Friday, February 24, 2012

This week, we have a post from a guest blogger. Ms. Brooks is a recent biomedical anthropology graduate and an avid health nut, and “aims to enlighten people about the benefits of alternative and natural therapies for certain ailments.” After reading and following this blog for a while, she kindly volunteered to submit an article for review. Thanks, Allison! Here is her article… hope you enjoy!

Let a chiropractor help with healing

People suffer from illnesses for various reasons including injury, reactions to food or chemicals, and stress. Stress is a major factor in mental disorders and can make other illnesses worse.

How Stress Affects the Body

Stress interferes with the proper functioning of the immune system. When stress is high, the level of the corticosteroid hormone is elevated which decreases the number of lymphocytes. With fewer lymphocytes the immune system is not as effective.

Stress also causes blood pressure to rise. Hypertension can lead to many cardiovascular problems and can negatively affect the immune system. The digestive system is also affected by stress as it has difficulty digesting food when stress occurs. When stress levels are high, there is more adrenaline in the body and this can cause ulcers.

Benefits of Chiropractics

Anyone who is dealing with a chronic illness such as cancer, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, or MS, often has some pain associated with treatment or from the illness itself. By relaxing the body and putting everything in proper alignment, a chiropractor can help reduce pain.

One major factor in most chronic illnesses is stress of the spinal nerve which in turn affects the functioning of the nervous system. The nervous system is like the manager of all the body’s organs and processes. A chiropractic treatment helps the nervous system work properly and increases the flow of energy throughout the body and relieving stress.

One thing that bothers some chiropractic patient is the “popping” sound when the vertebrae are adjusted. This is only a bit of gas that was between the bones and the popping is simply the gas leaving the area. So the pops tell the patient that the treatment is working as it should.

Chiropractics and Cancer

Having a diagnosis of cancer and receiving treatments is very stressful, especially when the cancer has a lower life-expectancy rate. Fear is also common after treatment as the patient is scared and worried that the cancer will return. Studies have shown that recurrence of breast cancer in women declines if the women have stress prevention therapy. In cases where the cancer has returned, stress prevention therapy has been shown to reduce the number of deaths.

Stress can cause muscle restrictions in a cancer patient and a chiropractor removes those restrictions. This allows the patient to let go of the tension that is present in the body because of stress. When the nervous system is working properly, the body can begin healing itself.

Authored by: Allison Brooks

Thanks again for this article submitted by Ms. Brooks. It is refreshing and encouraging when we share information, wisdom, and knowledge. For full disclosure: I have never met Ms. Brooks, nor have I verified her claim of being a recent biomedical anthropology graduate. However, I have no reason to doubt her, and appreciate her article coming from a non-physician viewpoint. She appears knowledgeable and we look forward to submissions from her in the future.

– Dr. Gray


Posted in General Chiropractic, General Health | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Can Stress or Emotions Cause Pain?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, January 23, 2012

I received a great question from a patient recently: She had read somewhere that stress and emotions were the cause of back pain, and wondered if I agreed or if it was true. Here is the majority of my answer.

While not the only cause of pain, the relationship between mental/emotional complaints or stress and how they lead to various physical conditions has long been known. The technical term for it is “psychosomatic,” or “psychogenic,” and refers to physical complaints being caused by mental/emotional problems. As our world has gotten busier and busier, and we have gotten away from stress-reducing activities in our daily life, these psychosomatic conditions have become much more widespread. Unfortunately, addressing psychosomatic conditions is difficult for several reasons.

First, psychosomatic complaints can be varied in their expression. Some people experience headaches when stressed, while others will develop back pain. Still others will suffer from indigestion… or high blood pressure… or neuropathy… or constipation… panic attacks… etc. Because of this highly variable presentation, it is difficult to determine exactly when our conditions are psychogenic in nature or when there is a true underlying disease process. In addition, there are no real tests that can be performed or evaluated to definitively diagnose psychosomatic conditions. Therefore, we are often in a position where we must run a multitude of tests and evaluations to rule out more serious complications or underlying disease processes. When these tests, inevitably, show no evidence of other causes, by exclusion the only plausible remaining diagnosis is “psychosomatic.” However, the very process of so many tests, the costs associated with these tests, and the continual disappointment of another test without an answer… only adds to the stress that is ultimately the underlying cause!

Second, when we have confirmed that stress is either the primary underlying cause or just a complicating factor, it is extremely difficult to get patients to comply with our recommendations on how to reduce that stress. Regardless of whether a physician is involved or not, a person who recognizes that stress is the culprit will often be unwilling (or unable) to take the necessary steps to correct their situation. How many of us can change occupations at will? Which of us can rapidly make money problems disappear? Who among us chooses when to deal with a dying parent? Which of us set our own work hours? And on and on… However, there are a great many things that we can do, but are often unwilling. For example: How many of us turn the television off and read a book in the evening? How many of us go to bed early with some soft, soothing music? How many of us choose nutritious snacks instead of sugary, carbohydrate-rich junk? Who do you know that closes their eyes and rests for fifteen minutes at lunch instead of checking in on Facebook? How many of us go for a walk in the evening instead of watching American Idol? Stress is largely a direct effect of the choices we make, our response to the consequences of those choices, and our willingness or ability to change those choices.

Third, our traditional Western medical system is not designed to properly address or correct psychosomatic conditions. If you look at the above complaints we noted above, think about how those conditions are primarily treated. Headache? Take Excedrin. Back pain? Take Alleve. Indigestion? Take Prevacid. High blood pressure? Take Toprol. Neuropathy? Take Gabapentin. Constipation? Take Maalox. Panic attacks? Take Prozac. Are you seeing the pattern here? And don’t blame this entirely on doctors or the pharmaceutical companies… Nearly every one of the conditions I’ve listed are lifestyle-related. In other words, choices the patient has made have led to the conditions with which they are suffering. By extension, patients demand and choose a treatment alternative that allows them to go on making the same ill-fated choices. Unfortunately, our Western medical system is largely geared towards symptom control… not dysfunction correction.

So, can mental or emotional stress cause pain? Absolutely. It can cause a great many things other than just pain, so it is important to make stress-reduction a regular part of your daily life.

Posted in Fibromyalgia, General Back Pain, General Health, Other Pain Conditions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Taming Stress

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stress can be a killer – quite literally, research suggests, but it can also make your day-to-day existence miserable. Who wants to walk (or rush) around all day as the oppressive weight of stress takes its toll on your body and mind? Here are five simple strategies to help you deal with stress and get back on the road to health and wellness:

1. Walk it off. There are so many physical and mental health benefits to a good walk; when it comes to stress, it’s the perfect opportunity to relax, enjoy the outdoors and reduce your stress, either by forgetting about it for a while or having the chance to process it. In fact, in many cases stress isn’t caused by a particular situation, but by the sense that you can’t escape your situation – your too-loud, too-hectic, too-frantic, responsibility-filled day.

2. Talk about it. One of the things that makes stress so damaging is that we often keep it to ourselves. Sometimes talking about how stressed you are (and why) with someone else is exactly what’s needed to reduce it or at least understand it a little better – and that’s half the battle. Your significant other, a family member, a friend or even a co-worker might be just what you need to get your stress (and how it’s affecting you) out in the open. And once it’s out in the open, it’s easier to deal with.

3. Distract yourself. Stress doesn’t have nearly as much power over you if you’re not thinking about it. That can be a challenge, of course, especially when your every thought is focused on a particular stressor, but it’s worth trying something – anything – to take your mind off your stress. True distraction means doing something that forces you to discard your stress to the greatest extent possible – try a baseball game, a night at the movies (particularly pure action or comedy), or even a good book or board game at home. Anything that requires your mind to focus on something other than your stress.

4. Deal with it. How do we “deal” with stress? It can involve any of these suggestions, but there are definitely a whole bunch more. It boils down to a few simple rules: a) Recognize when you’re stressed; don’t ignore it or pretend you’re “fine.” b) Understand why you’re stressed; identify the source of the stress and think carefully about why it’s affecting you. c) Find a way to reduce the stress (or eliminate it entirely); if that’s not immediately possible, at least find a way to manage it so it doesn’t continue to build.

5. Find the positives. There’s a silver lining to every stressful situation or circumstance, whether it’s stress about your job or career, your relationship, your family life, your (lack of) free time, your finances or anything else. It might be difficult to see at first, but it’s definitely there. Think of stress as an opportunity to explore creative solutions that will not only ease your stress, but also reduce the chance it will return.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share this link,

Dr. Gray

Posted in General Health, Stretches & Exercises | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Chiropractic For Chest Pain?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, May 26, 2009

When we think of chiropractic, the first thing most people think of is lower back pain. Unfortunately, that is the only thing many people associate with chiropractic care. The fact is: Chiropractic deals with the entire neuromusculoskeletal system(nerves, muscles, bones). As such, more and more research is proving that chiropractic care can be beneficial for many conditions not regularly associated to it.

For instance: Chest pain, known medically as angina, affects over 6 million Americans every year. These frightening attacks can be brought on by physical overexertion or stress, but are ultimately related to your heart needing more oxygen than it’s receiving. In a recent study performed in Denmark, positive results were shown in patients with stable angina after a four-week session of chiropractic adjustments.

Approximately 75 percent of the participants in the treatment group reported an improvement. 75%! That is a fairly stupendous amount! Do you realize that some medications are approved for use if they show a mere two or three percent improvement? … But 75%!?! That’s almost unheard of! … especially from your government! … On the website for the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there is the following statement: “The options for treating angina include medications and surgery.”

Not one mention or reference to safer or alternative treatment options… just drugs and surgery. Period. Their article was supposedly updated in July of 2008, but the study I referenced above was published (in a respected, peer-reviewed journal) in 2005. Three years? Seriously… three years and not one mention? We, in the chiropractic field, have known and witnessed these conditions respond to traditional chiropractic care for decades. The medical establishment, pharmaceutical industry, and government agencies have refused to acknowledge these treatment options in the past due to “lack of scientific evidence.” Okay, so we’ve got published scientific research in respected medical journals… now what’s their excuse? Oh, that’s right… chiropractic hasn’t contributed enough for those re-election campaigns.

Want the worst of it…? This is the same backwards, corrupted, ignorant, years behind, only-approve-the-highest-bidder organization that half of the country thinks they want in charge of their health care. Sorry… off the soapbox now and back on topic:

I’m not saying that chiropractic is going to cure 75% of chest pain cases. This study was done in regards to chest pains known as “stable angina.” However, this is a great example of a condition not normally associated with it responding to chiropractic care much better than expected. With regards to chest pains, it is imperative to start with a proper and accurate diagnosis. Realistically, chiropractic will be one small piece of an overall treatment regimen that involves lifestyle and diet modifications, safe exercise recommendations, nutritional supplementation, and coordination with your medical physician with an overall goal of improving your cardiovascular health.

Regardless of what you have thought about chiropractic in the past, recognize that your chiropractor is a “doctor” and is qualified to answer your questions and assist with the treatment of many conditions other than lower back pain. Remember to think for yourself, and do your own research. There are often tons of information and alternatives that are less invasive than traditional treatment methods.

Posted in General Chiropractic, Other Pain Conditions, Political | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Have You Caught a Snowflake On Your Tongue?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, December 16, 2008

There has been a decent snowstorm in the Kansas City area today, and I think most of us are missing an opportunity.

Did it take longer to get to work this morning? Did you have to dress in layers today? Have you had to knock stuff off the windshield wipers? Bent over to peek through the one section on the windshield that’s not streaked? Have you used the shovel on the walk or drive yet? Anyone in a big truck cut you off on the road today? Did you get your new shoes dirty today? For most of us in the Kansas City area, the answer is yes.

Now let me ask you this… Have you stopped to look at it yet? Have you caught a snowflake on your tongue? Have you smiled in awe at the beauty of nature? Have you just relaxed?

Unfortunately, we go through our adult lives focused on what we want to do next. First we get the kids ready, then we have to get to work, then we’ve got to get this project done, then we’ve got to plan dinner, then we’ve got to blah, blah, blah… Before you know it, something spectacular has passed you by.

Nothing more to say today… just take some time and enjoy whatever the Lord has given you. Relax. Get your stuff done, but make sure your priorities are in the right place.

Posted in General Health | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, October 15, 2008

As you’ve read here, and I’ve told many of my patients, one of the three major causes of subluxation or dysfunction in the body is emotional stress. In marriage, we all know that stress is a regular event. Whether it’s with each other, with the kids, with finances, with work, etc., husbands and wives have a tendency to rely on each other for the alleviation of stress.

Unfortunately, when spouses try to communicate with each other, they often don’t know, realize, or acknowledge the most significant barrier to men and women arriving at a successful conclusion… Men and women speak different languages!

Let’s face it, folks. Men speak male, and women speak female. Although there are some similar words in the two languages, they often have different meanings. The result, of course, are misunderstandings that are blamed on one another… when neither is actually at fault. So… you may start a conversation with your spouse in an attempt to alleviate one stressful situation, and end up adding another stressful situation.

This added stress, therefore, can then lead to physical manifestations… aches, pains, headaches, etc.

Mark Gungor is a christian comedian who released a video series called “Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage.” The following clip is a hilarious look at the difference between men’s brains and women’s brains. Enjoy!

Posted in General Chiropractic, General Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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