Pain and your Immune System

November 1st, 2020
Most people don’t realise how closely linked the immune system is with the nervous and endocrine systems.
Most people don’t realise how closely linked the immune system is with the nervous and endocrine systems. They actually share tiny messaging molecules, which help the body remain healthy.

One of those messaging molecules is IL-2, which is present in both the nervous system and immune system. It’s presence in both systems means that a problem with the nervous system may affect how well the immune system responds when a foreign pathogen is detected.

Is Pain linked to a weakened Immune System?
When pain persists for weeks or even months, it can cause an increase in the level of cortisol, the body’s main stress-induced hormone. Although the immune system needs a certain amount of cortisol, when it becomes elevated for an extended period, it can impair the cells that make up your immune system and kidney function.

When bathed in this stress-related chemical, the immune system can find it harder to function optimally. Living with unending chronic pain and the subsequent stress, your immune system simply will not work at full capacity. This breakdown in immune function can interfere with your ability to fight infections, your long-term healing, and your overall quality of life.

Imagine pain as the alarm system for the body. When there is a threat of harm, the brain interprets that threat and signals the alarm. This alarm triggers a cascade of responses-a stress-response. In fact, many types of stressors can cause a stress-response like divorce, death, and financial hardship.

One portion of the stress-response is the activation of the ‘fight or flight’ nervous system, also called the sympathetic nervous system. In its most basic form, the sympathetic nervous system prepares the body to run, fight, and get away from a threat. The duration and magnitude of the stress has a great influence on whether or not the immune system will be affected by this cascade, either suppressed or enhanced. But once the alarm has been tripped, the link between the nervous system and immune system comes into play.

This link between the nervous system and the immune system is strong. Thinking in terms of the ‘fight or flight’ system, the body generally has one basic over-riding instinct: to survive. When chased by a lion or burned by a stove, the reactions and responses are short-term and quick. In order to divert energy to muscles for running or moving, the body can shut down more long-term, high-energy processes like digestion, sexual and immunity functions.

Actually, this relationship is more complex than a simple shut down procedure because during the initial stress-response the nervous system fine tunes and enhances parts of immunity. But as the stressor continues, the nervous system triggers the shutdown of immunity and actually starts to disassemble it.

Stress-induced immunosuppression has been documented for over sixty years. The hormones produced by the sympathetic nervous system have been shown to suppress and kill the cells critical for immunity. Thus, anything that triggers the sympathetic nervous system has the potential to suppress immunity.
Take all the necessary precautions to avoid getting sick like washing your hands, avoiding sick people, and maintaining your health.

Other ways to increase your immune function:
Get more sleep! We are a nation of sleep-deprived individuals, but you don’t have to be one of them. Sleep helps your body to reset and recharge and keeps your system firing and protecting in the way that it should.

Arm yourself with vitamin D from the sun plus vitamin C from eating the fresh produce that contains it.

Regular exercise is also important when it comes to immune health because it serves to improve blood circulation, which in turn kickstarts the release of immune system substances into your body.

Through listening to your body, providing it with what it needs, and focussing on sorting out pain and other stresses, you may find yourself fighting immune system illnesses better than before!

Call our team at Well Adjusted Health today to discuss how we can help you sort any pain issues.

If you have a specific question regarding any pain or problem areas, or would like to book a Free 15-minute consultation for you or your family please call Well Adjusted Health on 01903 892171

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