Persistent migraines, joint tenderness, backaches and other discomforts caused by an infection, a recent trauma, or an old injury may be classified as chronic pain. They can range from minor twinges to debilitating spasms.

However, you don't have to suffer through them. Aside from therapies and treatments that can alleviate chronic pain, Huffington Post reports another way you can manage the discomfort: managing stress.

Researchers from the University of Montreal worked with 16 people with chronic pain and 18 healthy individuals. Saliva samples were taken to find out the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) produced by the adrenal gland during times of tension or pain. Using an fMRI machine, researchers “measured hippocampus size… and tracked response to pain stimuli.” The hippocampus is the part of the brain that manages emotional responses.

The results showed that those who had smaller hippocampus sizes were more prone to have greater pain response in the area related to anticipatory anxiety, which is brought about by worrying about a future situation or event. Anticipatory anxiety results in stress, which causes higher cortisol levels.

It appears that the more stressed you are, the more likely you are to feel chronic pain. If you are experiencing long-standing aches and have yet to go through any therapy or treatment, help yourself feel better by de-stressing. Try meditation, or give yourself something to look forward to, such as an after-work spa treatment. You can also make an effort to look at things from a different perspective. This may help you understand what situations are really worth stressing about.

(Photo by Ryan Weisgerber via Flickr Creative Commons)

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