Stressful Effects on the Body
By: Dr. Stephen O’Neil
Stress is present in all our lives in one form or another. It directly affects all aspects of our lives. Stress appears in three main forms; chemical, mental/emotional, and physical. In the area in which we live, physical stressors are the most common and are the kind of stress which we recognize most because they generally cause pain. We may not be conscious of our stress but we are almost always conscious of our aches and pains.
Physical stress is the over exertion of the body or part of the body which push tissues beyond their normal physiological threshold. Physical stress comes in the form of trauma or traumatic behaviour or can occur over a period of time in the form of repetitive stress. Either form can cause decreased function in the system. Signs and symptoms of poor adaptation to physical stressors may include pain, inflammation, swelling, decreased strength and muscle dysfunction.
Most physical stress comes in the form of repetitive motions, often with employment which do not allow the patient enough time to recuperate. In turn this causes distress on a certain body part which begins to fail.
Chemical stress comes in the form of environmental chemicals in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. The pollutants in our air and water cause stress on our lungs and digestive tracts and may lead to several disorders involving these systems. Alcohol and drug use cause added stress on the digestive system, liver, and kidneys. Cigarette smoke causes a direct assault on the lungs and cardiovascular system.
Mental/emotional stress may come from issues related to death, financial burdens, relationship issues, and family trouble. This type of stress is dealt with in several different ways. This type of stress can manifests as any number of symptoms but most often produces physical symptoms which may range from heart palpitations, tension, decreased immune response and lethargy to name a few.
Stress in any form affects the central nervous system which controls and directs all other function of the body. The central nervous systems inability to function optimally prevents the body's ability to properly adapt to its surroundings. Stress causes the body to do one of two things, change in some way or move towards a state of disease. It is our ability to cope with stress and how well we relieve our stress which dictates weather we adapt or become diseased. Restrictions or misalignments in our spines cause an inflammatory response in the spinal joints which is a chemical stress. The stress from this inflammation causes the nerve to change the signals it sends. This can lead to a whole host of other maladies throughout the body. These negative effects are often far reaching and serious. The worst part is that symptoms may not be present at all. This means that stress may be adversely affecting the system as a whole but at a subconscious level. Damage is being done but we have no symptoms to alert us to this fact. These silent changes are often the worst because they develop into serious problems under the radar and by the time we seek treatment irreparable damage has occurred. The best way to deal with the stressors in our life is to eliminate them; this however, is not always possible. We must maximize our ability to adapt to our environment and our body's ability to cope with the stressors in our life.
Chiropractors are trained to locate and remove restrictions and misalignments in the spine which helps maximize our health potential and our innate ability to change and adapt in a positive way. This ability is what makes us capable of surviving in the stress filled world we have created.