Stephanie Ross, PHD, MHD, HT, CNC, FAIS
Chronic stress and chronic pain are two distinguishable yet overlapping processes presenting multiple conceptual and physiological overlaps.1 Stress is broadly defined as a process by which a challenging emotional or physiological event or series of events result in adaptive or maladaptive changes required to regain homeostasis.2 On the other hand, pain is defined as the collection of emotional and sensory perceptions, as well as motor behaviors, resulting from the activation of the nociceptive pathways in response to harmful stimuli. The ability of an organism to adapt to stress or pain by regulating the internal environment and maintaining stability is termed allostasis.
Both stress and pain phenomena challenge the body’s homeostasis and require decision-making to help humans/animals to adapt to their environment. Pain and stress are both adaptive in protecting the organism, however, if either of the two processes becomes chronic, it can lead to long-term “maladaptive” changes in physiology and consequently behavior, resulting in suffering and compromised well-being.3 In addition, the heightened experience of chronic stress and chronic pain share a behavioral commonality in their ability to store negative memories associated with the traumatic event.
This issue of Contentment magazine focuses on the connection between chronic stress and chronic pain and highlights evidenced-based, non-pharmacological integrative therapies that are effective in reducing symptoms and regaining homeostasis.
John F. Barnes, PT, is an international lecturer, author and renown expert in the area of myofascial release, both visionary and inspirational leader, which has garnered him the title, “father of myofascial release.” He is the owner, director and chief physical therapist of the “Sanctuary Myofascial Release Treatment Center” located in Malvern, Pennsylvania and “Therapy on the Rocks Myofascial Release Treatment Center” in Sedona, Arizona. In addition to treating patients from around the world, he has created an educational training center, Myofascial Release Seminars, where he has trained over 100,000 therapists and physicians in his highly successful Myofascial Release Approach.®
In his feature article, “Myofascial Release for Stress Reduction” he describes fascia as a specialized system that plays an important role in the support and function of our bodies, and how traumatic events can cause myofascial restrictions that affect our flexibility and stability and serve as a determining factor in our ability to withstand stress and perform daily activities.
Stephanie Ross, PhD, MHD, HT, FAIS is an internationally recognized leader in Integrative Health. She served as the Founding Director of the Department of Complementary and Integrative Health at Drexel University, a pioneering program that partnered with the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine.
Dr. Ross features, “Rhodiola, The Clinical Applications of a Phytomedicine Adaptogen for Chronic Stress and Chronic Pain”, which provides a review of clinical evidence that supports Rhodiola as a supportive phytomedicine (botanical medicine) in addressing stress, and stress-related conditions, such as anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain.
Frank Forencich, DAIS has successfully integrated his background in human biology and neuroscience with martial arts and health education. He has a keen interest in human origins and the ancestral environment, and has presented at numerous venues including the Ancestral Health Symposium. A former columnist for Paleo Magazine, Frank is the author of numerous books about health and the human predicament including Beware False Tigers and The Enemy is Never Wrong.
In his article “Outside Job, A wide-angle view of stress, pain, and scope of practice,” he points out that “stress and pain are surging through the collective experience of humanity like wildfire.” He contends that in order to be effective in the treatment of stress and pain, we must embrace a holistic treatment perspective, one that includes ‘the health environment within us, and the surrounding environment outside of us,’ which requires a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary team of health professionals.
Josh Briley, PhD, BCMAS, FAIS is a licensed clinical psychologist and the Clinical Education Director at Electromedical Products International, Inc. Dr. Briley holds a broad range of clinical expertise including drug treatment, crisis intervention, group therapy for PTSD, depression, anxiety and chronic pain treatment.
His feature article, “Chronic Pain Does Not Occur in Isolation: Treat All Aspects with Alpha-Stim,®” explores the escalating cycle between chronic pain and chronic stress and how, if unaddressed, often results in anxiety and insomnia that further impact the patient’s life. In addition, his article provides a review of Alpha Stim, an evidenced-based medical device that simultaneously relieves pain, anxiety and insomnia, and chronicles, through specific case-based examples, the positive treatment outcomes enjoyed by patients using Alpha-Stim.
In closing, my hope is that each of us find a relaxing and peace-filled summer by appreciating those who surround us, by enjoying the gifts that nature provides us, and by embracing our wisdom to help guide us through challenging times.
- Vachon-Presseau E, Roy M, Martel MO, et al. The stress model of chronic pain: evidence from basal cortisol and hip- pocampal structure and function in humans. Brain 2013; 136: 815–827.
- Sinha R and Jastreboff AM. Stress as a common risk factor for obesity and addiction. Biol Psychiatry 2013; 73: 827–835.
- Bair MJ, Robinson RL, Katon W and Kroenke K. Depression and pain comorbidity: a literature review. Arch Intern Med 2003; 163: 2433–2445.