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Trifecta of chronic pain, stress, and anxiety is impairing health

Treating patients with chronic pain on a daily basis, Hana Doustar, offers her expertise, approach, and advice to individuals living with chronic pain and anxiety, as well as combating stress.

The top three root causes of pain she sees firsthand?

1 – "Headaches from stress related to work (hours staring at computers)

2 – Injuries from car accidents

3 – Back pain from emotional ailments"

When asked what percentage of people she sees that have developed anxiety based on pain, she said, "well above 90%. With more acute conditions of pain, anxiety levels really vary from person to person, depending on their previous medical history of anxiety levels."

When you take that statistic and apply it on a global scale, upon taking a look around – most of us are co-existing with chronic pain and anxiety. Attention, acceptance, and tangible approaches to minimizing the impact on our physical, mental and emotional health cannot be more needed by the masses.

Each of our experiences, levels of pain (refer to the pain scale for a refresher), stressors, support systems, and details of our day-to-day lives vary.

As Doustar underscored, "Every person is very different physically and psychologically. How stress impacts one person's physical system can be significantly different than how stress can affect" others.

In her practice, her approach is "to get to know our patients emotionally and physically very well. Once we have conducted a thorough evaluation, we are able to locate areas in the body that are holding on to this stress."

What are the two common areas that the human body holds stress?

Doustar states:

· Scalp

· Digestive tract

Acupuncture is one of the treatment options she employs. Through acupuncture, which "is a targeted approach to impact the local area where the stress is stored, and to also move it out through the body" Doustar "places needles in local and in 'mirrored' areas of the body."

Taking tension in the scalp as an example, "aside from needling the scalp where we feel tension, we also will needle the feet to draw the tension out. There are also general anxiety points like PC6, located slightly under the wrist that has been known to be effective in calming heart rate."

Another treatment option she sees positive results from is Myo-Fascial Release. This involves "gentle pressure on specific muscles to aid the tissue and supportive sheath in releasing tension, and blood stasis to increase mobility."*

When asked how much tension individuals with chronic pain and anxiety tend to carry around with them, she said, "The level of tension is hard to quantify but the trapezius, scalenes, rhomboids, levator scapulae seem to be highly affected." In layman's terms, these are areas supporting the neck and shoulders.

The impact on their daily lives is profound. Doustar explained that the range can include:

- A hard time getting adequate sleep

- Trouble focusing on anything when dealing with pain

- The inability to exercise, which in turn can lead to more pain as a result of weight gain

- Finding it difficult to keep a social life active when pain levels are high

Chronic pain is an epidemic. The statistics are gasp-worthy. As with many conditions that chronic pain tags along with, or is the main player, it is imperative to remind you that you are surrounded by many people in your community that deal and live with pain issues as well.

Let's focus on having more empathy for one another. We need each other.

If you have a health-related question that I can ask an expert, submit it at

Hana Doustar is founder and head clinician of the Clinic for Pain and Anxiety.

Shelby Ramsey is a health journalist and publisher of


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