With the holiday season in full swing, Albertans’ stress levels are often at a yearly high. Neck and back tension, and even stress headaches almost seem as common as Christmas carols ringing through shopping mall speakers this time of year. Fortunately, your chiropractor has ways to help deal with the pain your body faces due to stress.

What Can Stress do to My Body?

Think of your body like a car. If the engine in your car is overburdened and not performing normally; the acceleration, transmission and fuel system don’t function properly. If your brain is feeling overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, it’s hard for the rest of your body to function as expected.

When you perceive a threatening situation, often called distress, your nervous system becomes hyper-excitable, triggering the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones prepare your body for emergency action. Your body occasionally reacts just as strongly to chronic stress as if you were facing mortal danger. Your body begins to work overtime and this produces a very tense musculoskeletal (MSK) system.

The spinal joints and the surrounding muscles can be strongly affected by stress. There are often joint problems in the spine that don’t appear until stress, whether it be physical or emotional, rears its head.

When stress hits, your brain multiplies those minor problems until often you feel significant pain  either in your shoulders, mid back or low back. Sometimes your upper neck muscles and joints are affected resulting in strong headaches as well.

How Can Chiropractic Help?

There’s a reason people call a stressful situation a “pain in the neck.” Your chiropractor can quite literally relieve the pain in your neck, along with pain in many other problem areas brought on by stress.

With a simple adjustment, a chiropractor can quickly address the the compression in your problem joint. With less pressure in the joint, your relative motion is improved and any pain caused by the joint compression is decreased. The joint requires fewer muscles to move it when there is less restriction in it. This causes relaxation in these tissues as well.

Believe it or not, an adjustment could also relieve you of those often-times debilitating stress headaches as well. In most cases of tension headaches, significant improvement is accomplished through adjustments of the upper two cervical vertebrae, coupled with adjustments to the junction between the cervical and thoracic spine.

By correcting compression and restoring joint function, your chiropractor can also help restore a more natural tone in the nervous system, resulting in improved function in many organ systems of your body.