Chronic pain affects more than 50 million adults in the U.S. and costs the nation up to $635 billion annually. And the prevalence of chronic pain is expected to only increase in the coming years due to the aging population, increase in diabetes, and increased cancer survival rates. This suggests that chronic pain research and management will have even more importance hereafter.
Pain is always like a body’s warning system. This means that your brain has triggered an alarm in your body’s nervous system to fight off threats. But prolonged periods of your brain being alert to such threats can eventually harm your immune system.
In the search for an effective treatment, research and studies conducted by McGill University over the last few years state that chronic pain alters the human immune system and DNA. Chronic pain changes the way DNA is marked not only in the brain but also in the T cells, a type of white blood cell essential for immunity. “We were surprised by the sheer number of genes that were marked by chronic pain; hundreds to thousands of different genes were changed,” said McGill Professor Moshe Szyf.
The experience of continued pain problems can automatically trigger a stress response in the patient, which can result in long-term stress for the body. This stress response is known to be a combination of neurologic, endocrine, and immune system changes. As this continues to persist, levels of cortisol hormone in the human body rise. Long-term elevations in cortisol often result in a decline in the immune system functions.
Patients who have autoimmune disorders like lupus or arthritis, or those who are subjected to immunosuppressive medications are at a higher risk of being affected. If you’re always in pain, you must do what you can to control your body’s response to stress so your cortisol levels won’t shoot up.
Apart from taking pain relief treatments, it’s best to take your mind off the stress and chronic pain with breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, etc. It might also be extremely helpful to indulge in a hobby that relaxes you or become physically active. Try connecting more to people socially to elevate your mood, thereby decreasing your stress. Most of all, make sure you have optimal sleep at night and adequate food to boost your immune system. However, if you are still in pain, it is time to unplug from reading articles and being your own therapist. Visit Texas Joint Pain Management Clinic and avail minimally invasive and ‘best in class’ treatments for your pain problems. We discover the root cause of your problem and ensure to provide the best treatments suited for your pain in a family-centric environment.