Chronic Pain and Inactivity: How a Sedentary Lifestyle Could be Hurting You

No doubt we’ve all heard the adage, “use it or lose it,” and when it comes to the human body, no truer words were ever uttered. In an increasingly sedentary society, the effects of inactivity are becoming more prevalent today than ever. What is termed “disuse syndrome” has become a major factor in the diagnosis and progression of chronic pain symptoms. While many may be unaware of this term, it is simply used to describe a sedentary lifestyle and its effects on both the body and mind of inactive individuals.

The Relationship Between Disuse and Chronic Pain

Inactivity is possibly one of the worst things an individual can do for his or her health, both physically and mentally. Disuse of the skeletal muscles inevitably leads to muscle atrophy and contributes to cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure and decreased blood oxygenation. For those suffering from chronic pain, disuse syndrome may be the very thing perpetuating the problem.

When an individual in consistently inactive, the musculoskeletal system begins to deteriorate. This results in a reduction of skeletal muscle – hence, the adage, “use it or lose it.” When a sedentary individual resumes any level of activity, there is no longer sufficient muscle mass to support that activity. In turn, the majority of both the weight and force involved in the activity must be supported by the skeletal system, often leading to chronic pain symptoms. Compounding this issue is the likelihood of significant weight gain in sedentary individuals. Not only do such individuals no longer have the muscle mass to support physical activity, they also carry greater fat mass. This places even greater stress on the joints, tendons, and ligaments of the body, further exacerbating any symptoms.

While there is no doubt that discomfort is a limiting factor in physical activity, remaining active is essential. Not only will physical activity help to maintain muscle mass to support the body, it will provide increased circulation, bringing more nutrients and oxygen to damaged areas that require healing. Even something as simple as regular walking or stretching is far better than no activity at all. While it’s no secret that chronic pain can make activity uncomfortable, developing disuse syndrome is avoidable in most cases. Simply making sure to add even a small amount of physical activity throughout the day can help prevent symptoms from worsening and may lead to increased quality of life.

It’s difficult to live with chronic pain as it seeps into every aspect of your life and keeps you from doing the things you need to do, and the things you love doing. If your pain persists, contact the Spine Institute. Our spine specialists in New Jersey will investigate the root of your pain and come up with a plan to tackle it. Call 973-538-4444 or contact us online to set an appointment.