Chronic Shoulder Pain and Mental Illness the less spoken link
Chronic Shoulder Pain and Mental Illness(Depression,Anxiety), Is there a link?
Chronic Pain, pain that lasts longer than 3 months can often lead to mental illness such as depression or anxiety. Pain can lead to feelings of disinterest and decreased social and community engagement. The link between chronic pain and mental illness is recently been researched. There is a wide prevalence of mental illness in the United States.
Prevalence of Mental Illness
In the United States, in a given year approximately one out of every five adults, or 18% of the population equating to 43.5 million individuals, suffer from some type of mental illness.
Approximately 1 out of every 25 individuals or 4% of the population which is 9.8 million individuals suffer from serious mental illness in a given year. This substantially affects or limits one or more of their life activities.
In youth aged 13-18 years, approximately one out of every five young adults or (21.4%) experience a severe mental disorder at some point of their life.
Physical Signs of Two Most Common Mental Illness
- Depression can cause joint stiffness, increased muscle tension due to inactivity, muscle aches, joint pain, headaches and abdominal pain.
- Anxiety can cause muscle tension, nausea, generalized muscle weakness, migraine headaches, and dizziness.
Often people find themselves in this vicious cycle of chronic pain causing depression/anxiety and depression/anxiety causing increased pain.
Chronic shoulder pain particularly can cause significant disability in one’s life. The ability to not be able to use your arm as before and do the things you love can become overwhelming more than the pain itself.
Prolonged shoulder pain can lead to:
- Not wanting to work especially if your job is one that requires repetitive use of your arms or overhead activity and/or manual labor,
- Not wanting to engage in social activities or be around friends
- Interruption in sleep causing increase in fatigue/exhaustion.
Inactivity and increased muscle tension from being depressed and anxious can also cause unexplained shoulder pain and or cause pain to be significantly worse or prolonged.
Negative Effects of Untreated Mental Illness
- Opiod crisis/substance abuse/addictions (alcohol, pain medications, illicit drugs etc.)
- Increase suicidal rate
- Increase domestic violence (spousal, child, abuse)
- Worsening of chronic illnesses
- Premature Death
A two- prong treatment approach is required to help patients. We must combat the mental illness alongside the physical impairments for the best outcome.
Coping Skills to Combat Mental Health Illness:
Increase physical activity.
- Regular exercise impacts positively to combat depression and anxiety, it relieves stress and helps one sleep better. It also boosts one’s overall mood.
- Exercise is a powerful depression fighter. It energizes your spirit and makes you feel good
- Regular exercise promotes changes in your brain, decreases inflammation and promotes feelings of calm and well being.
- Regular exercise allows your body to release hormones called endorphins (known as your bodies “natural pain killers”) and serotonin (known as “happy” hormone)
- Regular exercise serves as a distraction
- Regular exercise to combat anxiety specifically relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy and interrupts the flow of constant worrying.
- Psychologists recommend 30 mins of moderate exercise 3-4x/week to be sufficient in maintaining mental health.
- Stopping to focus on your breathing (i.e. using breathing apps on your mobile device or smart watch)
- Starting activities such as Yoga and Pilates.
- Change of scenery
- Mindfulness serves as a distraction
Support Groups/ Mental Health counseling:
- If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety and depression, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
- Facebook groups/Church groups/Non-profit organization/ City/County groups
Dr. Dainielle Gordon-Cornwall received her B.S. in Psychobiology/Psychology from LaSierra University, her M.A. in Management and Leadership from Webster University and her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Loma Linda University.
With her extensive background in physical science, management credentials and experience, plus her 15 + years dedicated to the Physical Therapy and wellness profession she had a strong desire to open her own physical therapy and wellness facility. At 360 Rehab Services she leads her team to serve the South Florida community by providing the highest quality of care with a holistic approach for a better you. Dr. Dainielle Gordon-Cornwall and her 360 Rehab Services team are able to provide quality physical therapy and wellness care that makes their patients/clients feel at home in a “boutique-styled” atmosphere.
When she is not serving patients or developing her team at 360 Rehab Services, she enjoys spending quality time with her family (husband and two children) and participating in outdoor activities.