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Does Chronic Pain Affect the Immune System?
Does Chronic Pain Affect the Immune System?

Scientists are constantly researching on body pain and how it affects the immune system. The nervous system interacts with the immune system and the body responds according to the interaction. We are going to discuss here if the immune system has anything to do with chronic pain. The researchers and the pain management doctors keep on working on it. There have been already many studies that show that immune cells of the body or the microglia of the central nervous system has impacts on the chronic pain.

Understand the Pain System

You should understand the basic idea of the pain system. The nervous cells or nociceptors transfer the information of potential threats like high heat or harmful chemicals to the spinal cord. Next the neurons of the spinal cord receive the information and this process is known as nociceptive signaling. The information is now transmitted to the electrical signals. And they can be turned up and down and also can control if the signals to be sent to the brain. When chronic pain develops after a nerve injury, the microglia amplifies the signal delivered by the nociceptors. When the signal reaches the brain, it gives the feeling of pain.

Chronic pain and continuous stress can affect immune function. Chronic pain may reprogram the functioning of genes in the immune system, according to previous research in laboratory mice at McGill University. In fact, the way DNA is marked in special immune cells known as T cells seem to change chronic pain promptly. While it is unclear how many these changes affect T cells' ability to fight infection, these key infection fighters appear to be closely linked with changes in chronic pain and DNA markers.

The continuous pain experienced can undoubtedly trigger a stress response and can lead to a long term stress in the body if the pain is chronic. Consider the stress response as a combination of the changes in the neurological, endocrine and immune systems that help the body avoid a perceived danger or threat. If stress continues, the hormone cortisol levels begin to rise. Long-term cortisol levels are associated with the decrease of the function of the immune system. Older caregivers, for example, are less susceptible to viral infections with lower immune cell levels like lymphocytes, a slower wound healing period.

Patients who receive immunosuppressive medication are also at greater risk for infections with autoimmune disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Immunosuppressive agents themselves inhibit the natural immune response of the body.

Chronic pain may also be linked to other chronic diseases that impact the immune system's effectiveness. Dual conditions such as response in stress and inactivity can cause to changes in your body, which increase blood pressure and encourage weight gain and in turn become risk factors for cardiovascular, stroke, diabetes or other chronic conditions. In fact, the incidence of heart diseases in those suffering from chronic pain has been found to be significantly higher.

Do what you can to reduce the stress response of your body to reduce your pain effect on your immune system. Consider calming your nervous system over-anxiety using simple techniques like breathing, meditation, gentle yoga, or maybe psychologist or therapist to learn special techniques. Other ways of lowering stress include exercise, getting fresh air and watching a funny movie.

At our pain clinic in OKC we will help you to get over the problems of chronic pain that affects the immune system the most. Visit Neuroscience Specialist, check the services list and visit and appointment.

**Disclaimer- Information presented here is not intended to be qualified medical advice. Nothing expressed herein creates a doctor-patient relationship.