Chronic Pain and Inactivity

If you’ve been experiencing chronic pain, you may experience relief by moving more. There’s a connection between chronic pain and inactivity, and understanding the relationship between the two could help improve your health.

One of the first things to understand is a condition known as disuse theory. This is the notion that inactivity has a negative effect on the brain and body. The concept of disuse syndrome was coined around 1984 and has gotten significant attention from the medical community.

Disuse syndrome has been connected to chronic pain disorders, including severe back pain, as well as other sicknesses. Some medical professionals even feel that this syndrome is the cause for why many of us simply don’t feel our best on a daily basis.

What Causes Disuse Syndrome?
Disuse syndrome is caused when the body is not active. In our society, which is heavily sedentary, it’s easy for people of various ages to develop this condition.

There are also several effects of disuse syndrome, including a decline of several body functions. This proves that you do have to “use it or lose it” when it comes to our limbs and muscles.

The body’s systems will start to shut down or malfunction due to inactivity. The skeletal and muscular systems suffer from disuse syndrome; people may also start to experience cardiovascular problems and issues with the health of the blood.

How Inactivity Affects Your Body
When it comes to the musculoskeletal system, muscle wasting and atrophy can occur when the muscles aren’t used often and properly. If your arm or leg has ever been in a cast, you know that your limb will be noticeably smaller after you haven’t been able to use your leg or arm for an extended period of time. This is the same thing that happens with disuse theory.

In the cardiovascular system, you may notice that you don’t have as much oxygen uptake over time. This can cause your systolic blood pressure to increase, and you may also find that your blood plasma volume will decrease by up to 15%, especially if you have to be on bed rest for weeks or months.

If you’re physically inactive, you will likely notice changes to your nervous system as well. It’s common for your brain to start functioning at a lower pace, and you may also have issues with concentration and memory. Inactivity can also lead to depression and anxiety, and these conditions are also coupled with chronic pain.

Getting Active
Speaking with your doctor about your pain and inflammation and getting treatment for back pain can be the first step to becoming more active. In some cases, you may be prescribed painkillers so that you’ll be more motivated to exercise regularly. Your physician may also suggest that you engage in certain exercises like water aerobics, since the water will relieve pressure on the joints. Low-impact exercise like yoga, which helps to stretch the limbs and improve circulation. Even doing simple things like taking a walk in the evenings after dinner can help reduce chronic pain and encourage you to make physical activity a part of your lifestyle. 

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