The stress response is controlled by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is a complex system involving several hormones and neurotransmitters.
When we encounter stress, the hypothalamus in the brain releases corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH then signals the adrenal glands to release cortisol, a hormone that is essential for the body's stress response.
However, prolonged and chronic stress can cause dysregulation of the HPA axis, leading to an overproduction of cortisol. This can have several negative effects on the body, including:
Suppression of the immune system: Cortisol can suppress the immune system, making us more susceptible to infections and illnesses. This is because cortisol can reduce the number of white blood cells in our body, which are responsible for fighting infections.
Increased inflammation: Cortisol can also increase inflammation in the body, which is associated with a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders.
Digestive problems: Prolonged stress can also lead to digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and acid reflux. This is because cortisol can increase the production of stomach acid and slow down the digestive process.
Cardiovascular problems: Chronic stress can also increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. This is because cortisol can increase blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which can damage the blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease.
Mental health problems: Chronic stress has also been linked to a range of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
To reduce the negative effects of stress on the body, it is important to find ways to manage and reduce stress levels. This can include practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga, getting regular exercise, and seeking support from friends, family, or a mental health professional.
LASTLY, there is a significant direct association between the degree of stress and chronic Low back pain (LBP). It is recommended to ALL HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS also assess stress levels when managing a patient with chronic low back pain.
At Pittsburgh Spine & Injury Center we find and treat the source of pain, whether that is mechanical failure in the joint or a soft tissue adhesion for example. And we have a great track record (check out our testimonials).
Click on the link to book your appointment today and stop the cycle.