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Food, Feelings, Stress: What’s Really Causing Your Physical Pain

The source of your pain can go much deeper than your physical state. Dr. Brandie Elizabeth Keates, founder of Experience Chiropractic, tells you why, and what to do.

I think if you don’t experience a little anxiety on a daily basis, there’s actually something wrong with you.

Some people thrive on stress and a frenetic lifestyle. The adrenaline and breakneck pace of it all is captivating. How busy and distracted can we make ourselves?

Stress is a given. The trick is being able to manage it and make it work for you.

As a chiropractor, 80 percent  of what I see with clients is caused by stress. Of course, there’s the physical stress: think holding kids, or sitting in a chair for eight hours a day. But did you ever consider that your body can suffer with nutritional stress? Or emotional stress?

We don’t think of these stressors as the most likely culprit. The truth is both can manifest in physical pain.

How can your back just start killing you with no physical trauma? Here are some things to consider. Have you ever experienced any of these things?

• Stress at being a new mom?

• Feeling unsupported at work or home?

• Not sleeping?

• Too tired to cook?  

• Poor or emotional eating?

The impact of this kind of stress can weigh heavily on our bodies, causing physical pain with lingering effects, if not addressed.

Nutritional Stress

Simple sugars and white flour can be highly caustic to the vessels of your body. It’s so easy to overindulge in simple carbs. Blood sugar spikes leave you sluggish after eating. It’s a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. Sugar is, after all, more addictive than cocaine.

Dairy and gluten can also be very inflammatory. What do I mean by inflammatory? Inflammation results in bloating, weight gain, digestive issues, skin issues and more.

So, what can you do about this?  The hallmark of a healthy diet is whole, single-ingredient foods. If it died or came from the ground, it’s a good choice. Eliminating inflammatory foods such as caffeine, white flour, sugar, and gluten is a good way to start to explore a healthier lifestyle.
Be curious! Think of it as an experiment. A great way is to take a week and eliminate common irritants. Add them back in, one by one, and see how your body responds. Are you feeling more energetic, more mental clarity, less bloated? Many patients also report less pain as their body is less inflamed by eliminating their major irritants.

Emotional Stress

How does emotional stress cause physical pain? Boy, there are so many books on this topic!
Picture someone with their shoulders scrunched up around their ears as a protective mechanism. Hiking your shoulders up, over time, causes imbalances in your posture, resulting in pain.

Holding tension in your jaw and scalp muscles can result in TMJ or headaches, which is why modalities such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage are found to be very effective to manage these conditions.

Here’s an important point to realize with your health: You are never “fixed.” Your body is always under different stresses that it needs to balance. Just like your home, your body requires maintenance to perform at its optimal level.

One thing I tell my patients who are experiencing pain is to “turn up the good and turn down the bad.” Remember to take the time for self-care. That’s the first thing that gets cut in our ever moving life and it’s the one thing that we need the most to stay balanced.

Dr. Brandie Elizabeth Keates, DC, is Owner/President of Experience Chiropractic a clinic offering top quality chiropractic and rehabilitative services to patients in the Delaware Valley.  Dr. Brandie is also the founder of Bloom, a specialized prenatal and postpartum program of chiropractic care, muscle therapy, and her rehab program, “Strong Mama U” for pregnant women. Dr. Brandie specializes in the treatment of children and pregnant women, including the Webster technique, and holds a specialized certification from the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA).  

Experience Chiropractic strives to inspire individuals and families to achieve the highest degree of wellness possible by providing top quality chiropractic and rehabilitative services to develop and strengthen your entire body through pain relief, stabilization and maintenance.