Physical Stress Comes In Many Forms
Welcome back to the final part three of our series on Stress and Immunity. We are discussing Physical Stress, the last of the three types of stress that can affect our immunity.
When we think about the healing capability of the body, there are three broad categories of stress that can interfere with this process. The vast majority of health concerns (minus very rare genetic circumstances) that relate to a weakened or suppressed immune system are due to one or more stressors in these three categories:
- Thoughts – Emotional Stress
- Toxins – Chemical Stress
- Trauma – Physical Stress
So far, we have covered how emotional and chemical stress can have a negative effect on the immune system. What exactly does physical trauma/stress have to do with the immune system?
Physical stress comes in many forms, especially here in Colorado with nature’s playground in our own back yard – we experience physical stress through accidents like:
- Skiing accidents
- mountain bike falls
- slips on ice
- sports like soccer, rugby, hockey, and football
- car accidents
- playing with our kids
- the list goes on…
Most of the people on planet earth have experienced some type of accident like this – even if it was minor. What do those injuries have to do with the immune system you say? Immediately after those injuries most of us remember how it FELT. Inflammation occurs in the area that has been hurt and we see redness as cells migrate to that area to clean waste. It causes swelling to prevent further damage, and this begins the body’s natural healing process. This inflammation is good.
But did you know….that many times these injuries leave behind a chronic (long-term) effect on the immune system? This may even happen without any noticeable signs or symptoms for some time.
Physical Stress Can Cause A Foundational Shift
With most of these injuries, it is usually the spine that takes a hit….especially the very top bone in the spine. Accidents like falls or concussions often shift the uppermost bones of the spinal column out of normal alignment or position. This shift becomes permanent as the ligaments and muscles around it shorten and adapt to accommodate for the strain and injury.
Until corrected properly, this foundational shift in the spine causes pressure and tension on the nerve system. This pressure on the spinal cord will continue to reduce the ability of the brain to communicate with the body effectively. AND, since we all know the brain is the driving computer behind all hormones, cells, and functions…it becomes more and more difficult for the brain to coordinate all of the roles and duties of the immune system.
Misalignment In The Upper Spine Stresses The Nervous System
This concept is not new. The science behind how misalignment in the spine can cause stress in the nerve system goes back to 1978 in Alf Breig’s medical text Adverse Mechanical Tension in the Central Nervous System.
In the text Human Anatomy and Physiology by Elain Mareeb, she writes “The nervous system plays an important role in both the control and activity of the immune response.”
In Elaborate Interactions Between The Immune and Nervous Systems by Dr. Lawrence Steinman he writes: “The immune system and nervous system maintain extensive communication, including ‘hardwiring’ of sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves to lymphoid organs. That hard wiring is via the vagal nerve and sympathetic nerve fibers to the main sites of the immune system in the liver, spleen, bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes, skin, and gastrointestinal system”.
The point here is that physical trauma can and will create dysfunction and interference in the signaling process of the central nervous system. This disconnect neurologically can lead to a less than functional immune system until the cause coming from the spine is corrected.
Foundational Correction Using The NUCCA Protocol
At Balance Chiropractic we use objective diagnostic measurements to determine if there is in fact a foundational shift in your spine. Using a specialized chiropractic approach known as the NUCCA procedure, the goal is to restore normal structural alignment to the head, neck, and spine. The result over time takes the pressure off of the neurological system (spinal cord tension) and connects the brain back to the body without ever having to pop, twist, or crack the spine.
When the nervous system can communicate with the other parts of our anatomy like the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, digestive system, and specialized cells without physical stress interrupting that signal – the immune system has a better fighting chance against any invader.