Stress Hormone & Muscular Pain

Many people resort to drinking caffeine just to cope with ongoing stress and get through the day. More coffeehouses seem to pop up all the time—there’s even an intersection in downtown Portland, Oregon, that boasts one on all four corners. Stress is epidemic, and caffeine and sugar do not help the already distressed state of our stress hormones.

Within the body, hormones facilitate many key organ functions, including temperature

regulation, metabolism, mood swings, growth, immunity, sexual developments and hunger cravings. The hormone that is directly associated with stress—cortisol—comes from the  adrenal glands on top of each kidney. These are the first line of defense against emotional and physical stress. The hormones are secreted from the cortex, or the outer part. They include cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), aldosterone, estrogen and testosterone (although then by the ovaries and testicles).

As a person’s stress level increases, so does cortisol production, and the higher the cortisol release, the less DHEA will be available, which leads a person to feel fatigued. Other signs of adrenal fatigue include visual hypersensitivity to light, dizziness upon changing positions quickly, headaches, tired feet or pain in the heels and low back pain.

Being stressed can lead to aches and pains in the muscles. There are adrenal- related muscles that are connected to the pelvis, such as the hamstrings behind the leg, which goes from the pelvis to the knee, the gracillis, or groin muscle, on the inside of the pelvis, and sartorious, from the outer pelvis to inner knee. These major muscles stabilize the hips. Thus, for whatever reason that the adrenals are stressed; whether from the poor diet (especially caffeine and sugar), lack of sleep, busy lifestyle or emotional/physical stress, they can heavily impact the frame, leading to hip pain, low back pain and even knee pain. As the frame weakens and the imbalance of muscles lose their normal biomechanics, even simple movements can “throw” the back out. Perhaps it is stress that is to blame for that achy back.

A healthy lifestyle can keep the adrenals strong. First, we must make sure our diet promotes healthy adrenals; cut caffeine and sugar; and physically de-stress our life by working out or doing something our heart truly enjoys. Go to bed early and give the body its necessary cellular rejuvenation time. Remember, we can always consult with a doctor to see if our symptoms are adrenal fatigue-related or due to a spinal misalignment that is causing the nerves to malfunction in the back and hips.

Cecilia Yu is a practicing doctor of chiropractic specializing in NUCCA and owner of Synergy Balance, in Dallas. For more information, call 972-387-4700 or visit

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