Can Chronic Pain Affect The Immune System?

Can chronic pain affect the immune system? The answer is a resounding yes! Anyone who lives each day with chronic pain, as 100 million Americans do, understands the stress it creates. Let’s discover why this is true and what you can do about it.

Continuous Pain Triggers A Stress Response

Long term pain causes changes to our DNA in the brain and may reprogram how the genes in our immune system function. This is a mouthful, but studies at McGill University seem to prove that there is a relationship between chronic pain and long term stress to the body leading to changes in our DNA which affect our immune system. It may also impact our T Cells, or white blood cells, which help to protect us from infection.

In addition, when we are in a state of long term stress from chronic pain, it triggers a rise in the hormone cortisol which in turn causes a decline in our immune capability. In other words, it breaks down our immune system.

middle-aged man is sick laying on sofa

Our Immune System And COVID-19

This information is especially pertinent today as we remain in a pandemic and struggle to fight the virus. Chronic pain and ongoing stress impact our immune function.

Chronic pain increases our stress responses, and this in turn increases our risk for high blood pressure, it encourages weight gain, and the risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Consider that besides age, diabetes, heart disease, co-existing medical problems, lung disease, those with COPD, and those with a compromised immune system are more likely to experience worse outcomes from COVID-19. In addition, those with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis are always at a higher risk of infection due to their compromised immune system.

All the more reason to reduce stress in your life.

Reducing Chronic Pain And Stress

You may be thinking that this is all easier said than done. We should always be looking to Palm Beach Pain Institute to help us reduce our chronic pain, and at the same time find ways to reduce stress.

Try meditation, breathing, exercise, being out of doors, and gentle yoga. Find time for yourself, read, or watch a funny movie.

Whatever you can do to break the chain of stress will lessen your risk of infection from COVID or any other type of infection.

You can break the cycle.

If you suffer from chronic pain and experience long term stress, contact Palm Beach Pain Institute at (561) 499-7020 or request an appointment online.


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