HELP – I’M STRESSED!
Lee Goldenberg, DC
The word ‘stress’ evokes specific images in the minds of most people. It is usually defined as the overwhelming burden of handling difficult and/or numerous tasks, causing strain, anxiety, nervous tension, trauma, or hassle. In the early 1900s, a Harvard physiologist, Walter Cannon, first described and named the ‘fight-or-flight’ mechanism in the body, and showed the damaging bodily effects of a perpetual stress response.
Modern research has increasingly shown a close relationship between stress and illness. Physical stress, i.e. injury or trauma, is well documented as causing harmful effects on the body. Most sickness is brought on and often made worse by emotional stress. Chemical stress, the result of ingesting poor food and drink, as well as exposure to environmental hazards, can reduce health by challenging the body to work harder to rid itself of these damaging toxins.
Imagine walking in the woods on a nice fall afternoon, and a large bear walks across your path. The bear slowly moves toward you. Do you stay and fight, or run for your life? Either answer involves activating your sympathetic nervous system, specifically the “fight-or-flight” system. This increases blood flow and heart rate, dilates your pupils, and gets you ready to deal with sudden, life-threatening emergencies.
The nerves that are in charge of responding to stress are located in the spine from the bottom of the neck to the low back (T1 through L2 levels). The “fight-or-flight” response, while necessary in an extreme emergency, it is often active during other stressful yet non-dire times. In this case, it can be taxing on the body.
The initial symptoms of chronic stress are considered relatively mild, like headaches and frequent susceptibility to colds. Prolonged stress, however, slows down other processes of the nervous system, which can result in the development of more serious health problems. Long-term stress can suppress the immune system, which can lead to disease and chronic illness, fatigue, fibromyalgia, cancer, bowel trouble, depression, diabetes, hair loss, heart disease, thyroid issues, obesity, obsessive-compulsive or anxiety disorders, ulcers, and more.
How does chiropractic relate to stress?
Imagine watering your lawn, but there is a twist in the garden hose. Without water, grass begins to turn brown and die. Your options are: A) bring water in from elsewhere to feed the yard, B) let it be, or C) find the problem and fix it. The obvious solution is “C.” As any smart person would do, you would simply locate the source of the problem, un-kink the hose, and restore water supply to the yard. Now the grass slowly rejuvenates.
Similar to your lawn, the bones of the spine occasionally need to be “un-kinked.” Nerves that travel through the spinal column to various parts of the body send important information to and from the brain. If there is interruption in this process, similar to the hose, your body may lose its ability to function as well as it should, bringing pain, sickness, or other health problems – symptoms.
Chiropractors find the cause of nervous system disruption, remove it, and let the body heal itself, as it was designed.
How do we find nerve interference?
We use the latest computerized technology to identify areas of imbalance, and determine your CORE score. We measure muscle activity (balance), spinal temperature (relating to nerve function), and heart rate variability (shows how you are dealing with stress internally). The goal for our patients is balance, healing, and optimal nerve function.
Every Picture Tells a Story
This is a picture of a brain under functional MRI imaging. The left MRI shows a woman moving her ankle in circles. Notice the number and amount of different colors all over the brain. This indicates how much brain activity is needed to accomplish this one small task.
What happens next is revolutionary….
They took that same person out of the MRI and gave her a chiropractic adjustment. Then she returned to the MRI scan and repeated the same ankle movement as before.
The picture on the right shows how much less brain function was needed to perform the same amount of work! Her brain and body adapted to the stress, which was the same in both MRIs, much more efficiently.
Chiropractic adjustments bring balance, harmony, and organization. Less energy and more efficiency in dealing with stress is a result of chiropractic care; stress is not something we intend to remove, but if we can assist the body in dealing with stress more efficiently, the body can respond as nature intended and stress won’t overwhelm you.