Your Sedentary Lifestyle Is Causing Back Pain
Simply needing to readjust your livelihood to stay home most of the year could be responsible for back pain. Many of us who were not working from home prior to the pandemic were essentially forced to quickly adapt, and didn’t have the luxury of time to set up an ergonomic home office, Dr. Bonte says. Sitting at a low table on a stool with a small laptop is going to cause more back pain than sitting at a designated workstation with a full sit-to-stand desk setup and a full-screen monitor.
Since youve eliminated a commute and walks to meetings, water coolers and restrooms on the other side of the office, youre probably sitting more in general during the workday. Studies suggest that more sitting time has been associated with more low back pain.
In addition, we are all creatures of routine, and when this routine is disrupted, this can make stress and pain worse. For those who exercise regularly, our minds, joints, muscles, and tendons are used to a particular training style or exercise program, Dr. Bonte says. Gym closures have forced us to learn how to do things differently, and I have seen people with new injuriesespecially running injuriesas a result of trying to adapt too quickly without a gym or their typical equipment or classes.
How Does Stress Cause Neck And Shoulder Pain
Before we consider how massage works and how it can help resolve musculoskeletal pain we need to look at some of the ways the muscular system can become dysfunctional. Therapists are often asked what caused my problem? and the answer, unfortunately, is not always simple. In the next two articles we will follow the process of dysfunction for two common causes of neck and shoulder pain.
There is an interesting moment in the BBC News 24 countdown sequence. The tension builds as the drums beat and the pips match the time signal. Images of various correspondents, working both home and abroad, are flashed across the screen until we see John Simpson talking to camera in a war zone. An explosion occurs behind him and John, the consummate professional, continues to speak to camera. His body does react however. In fact all the people around him react in the same way. His head drops down and his shoulders rise up as he ducks.
We moved house recently, apparently one of the most stressful things you can do in normal life and whenever I took time to notice I found my shoulders were nearly up to my ears with the stress. Now Plymouth is hardly a war zone, so what is happening here? The body finds it difficult to distinguish between instantaneous fight or flight situations and the insidious stress we feel in our everyday lives and the physical reactions can be remarkably similar.
Does This Really Need To Be Addressed
Yes, this is an issue that we recommend be addressed with physical therapy before it gets worse. We see many patients in the clinic with stress related neck pain that get great results with the help of physical therapy. We find stretches and strengthening exercises catered to each individuals needs as well as hands on techniques to release tight muscles and reduce headaches. We also use education to help reduce stressful influencers and offer ways to help you manage stress.
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What To Do Self
In our privileged lives, we are uniquely smart enough to have invented these stressors and uniquely foolish enough to have let them, too often, dominate our lives. Surely we have the potential to be uniquely wise enough to banish their stressful hold.
Robert M Sapolsky, Why Zebras Dont Get Ulcers, 2004, p. 408
It turns out yoga and meditation are not actually the best ways to tackle stress for many people . So here are some of the other options summarized, and most of which are discussed in more detail below:
What Causes Tension Headaches
At the base of the skull, there is a group of muscles called the suboccipital muscles. They can cause headache pain for many people. These four pairs of muscles are responsible for subtle movements between the skull and first and second vertebrae in the neck.
The suboccipital muscles may become tense and tender due to the following:
- Eye strain
- Grinding teeth
Pain from the suboccipital muscles commonly feels like a band wrapping around the head. Also, tension in these muscles may cause compression of a nerve that exits the base of the skull. This can trigger pain that wraps over the head and above the eyes.
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Stretches For Shoulder Blade Pain
Here are some tips, stretches, and exercises you can perform in order to help shoulder blade pain.
Improve your work station: Ensure feet are flat on the ground and knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, back is straight, arms are bent at the elbow at 90 degrees, monitor is at eye level, and your mouse is close to your keyboard.
Correct your posture: Ear, shoulder, and hip joint should be aligned when sitting with good posture. Shoulders should not be slouched and your head should not be tilted.
Massage the area: Lay your shoulder on the massage ball and roll on it with the weight of your body.
Stretch the shoulders: Intertwine your fingers together, lean back, and hunch your upper body as far back as possible, push your hands as far away from you as possible, while looking down. In this position, you can move around to feel other areas of the upper back become stretched.
Stretch the thoracic spine: Have a foam roller underneath your shoulders and lay on it. Keep your ribs downward, but dont arch your back too much. Keep your hands behind your head in order to support it. Roll gently on the roller.
Do a chest stretch: Stand in the middle of a doorway with each hand forward flat on the side of the door frame. Gently lean into the door frame and feel your chest opening up.
After completing any type of exercise, apply heat packs to the area to further relax the muscle.
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What Can Cause Sharp Pain In Your Neck And Shoulder When Breathing
A couple of conditions can cause pain in the neck and/or shoulder when you take a deep breath, including:
- Pleurisy : Symptoms include sudden chest pain that may be felt only while coughing or breathing deeply, fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
- Pericarditis : Symptoms include rapid-onset stabbing chest pain, possibly pain in the shoulder, fever, weakness, and trouble breathing. It gets worse if you lie down or breathe deeply.
Pleurisy and pericarditis aren’t usually medical emergencies but you should treat any chest pain or breathing difficulty as an emergency until you know for sure what’s causing it.
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Crude Linear Regression Models
In order to investigate associations of other individual characteristics with neck pain, we investigated the crude association between NPAD-d scores and socio-demographic, psychometric characteristics and characteristics of medical history and health-promoting lifestyle. The major associations were identified for psychometric characteristics with neck pain. Depression as measured on the HADS depression subscale was highly significantly associated with NPAD-d scores. With each point increase in the HADS depression subscale NPAD-d scores increased by 2.16 points 1.742.57). Anxiety as measured by the HADS anxiety subscale was also highly significantly linked with higher levels of neck pain . In addition, deficits in social support revealed to be significantly associated with NPAD-d scores: Those with deficits in social support had 5.19 point higher NPAD-d values as compared to persons without deficits in social support indicating higher levels of neck pain for lower levels of social support .
What Causes Neck Pain And When To Worry About It
The main signs that neck pain might caused by autoimmune disease specifically include: a family history of autoimmune disease, gradual but progressive increase in symptoms before the age of 40, marked morning stiffness, pain in other joints as well as the low back, rashes, difficult digestion, irritated eyes, and discharge from the urethra.
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Neck Tension Anxiety Symptom
Neck tension, including having a stiff neck, neck tightness that radiates to the top of the head, fullness in the neck and head, and neck pain are often symptoms of anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and others.
This article explains the relationship between anxiety and neck tension and pain.
How Common Is Stress
Anxiety and stress related disorders are incredibly common. In europe, 4-10% of the population experience anxiety . This increases to 7 out of 10 people suffering from illness . Most stress is related to our health, family, work, bills and other commitments. If its an emotional or cognitive stress why does it affect our body?
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Research And Further Reading
This study investigated the influence of a standardized clinical neck/shoulder therapeutic massage intervention on physiological measures assessing -motoneurone pool excitability, muscle activity and the clinical measure of range of motion compared to a light touch and control intervention. Flexor carpi radialis -motoneurone pool excitability , electromyography signal amplitude of the upper trapezius during maximal muscle activity, and cervical ROM were used to assess possible physiological changes and clinical effects of therapeutic massage.The intervention produced increases in cervical range of movement in all directions assessed. Therapeutic massage of the neck/shoulders reduced the -motoneurone pool excitability of the flexor carpi radialis after therapeutic massage. Moreover, decreases in the normalized EMG amplitude during MVIC of the upper trapezius muscle and demonstrated increases in cervical ROM in all directions assessed occurred after therapeutic massage.
Can Stress Cause Neck Pain And Tension In The Shoulders
When we experience high levels of anxiety or stress, our bodys natural reaction is to tense up. When this happens consistently over a long period of time, it can lead to muscle tension, which can cause stiffness, tightness, aching, and pain in your neck and shoulders. Stress-related pain in this region is typically the result of emotional or mental anxiety, which can directly affect the muscles and nerves that run through your shoulders, neck, and spine.
Aside from psychological and emotional stress, other issues that lead to feeling the physical symptoms of sore shoulders are overuse, poor posture, long periods of sitting, incorrect or poor sleeping positions, and of course, cases of injury.
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How To Prevent Neck Pain
Do you want to prevent neck pain in the long term? Then we recommend that, in addition to the targeted exercises for neck pain, you optimize your everyday habits:
Work on maintaining good posture: good posture is not only good for your health it also makes you seem more self-confident. Lets start now: pull your shoulder blades back and down and stick your chest out. Make sure that your lower back and neck stay straight. Most people have a hard time maintaining body awareness throughout the day. BLACKROLL® POSTURE reminds you to maintain proper posture. To prevent neck pain in the long term, you should take regular breaks during office hours. Be sure to frequently change your position at your workstation this will keep your head and arms as balanced as possible.
Breathe from your abdomen: place a hand on your stomach while sitting or lying down. Actively breathe against your hand. You will notice it relaxes your soul and body.
Relaxation techniques: you can lower your stress levels with relaxation methods like autogenic training, meditation, yoga, etc. Find a way to reduce stress.
A muscle-relieving sleeping position: at night, you can support your neck with a stabilizing pillow so you dont wake up in the morning with neck pain. People who sleep on their stomach often twist their cervical spine too much, so this sleeping position is not recommended.
Possible Reasons For Interscapular Pain
If you are feeling pain between your shoulder blades youre likely a little worried. What could that kind of pain be coming from? Could it be something serious that could be an emergency?
Pain between the shoulder blades, otherwise known as interscapular pain, can have many causes. While this symptom is commonly caused by something as minor as a muscle strain, its important to be aware that it may also be a sign of something more serious, sometimes something as serious as a heart attack or lung cancer.
Pain is your bodys way of letting you know that something is wrong, but its sometimes hard to know if that something is only a nuisance or something that needs urgent attention. One way or the other, however, its important to find a reason for whats troubling you.
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Other Ache And Pain Issues
It should also be noted that anxiety is an incredibly complex condition that causes various changes to the way your body operates. Some people experience throat pain. Others experience unusual nerve sensations in their legs. Others experience random cramping. Still others experience abdominal discomfort or shooting pains that have no apparent causes.
Only a doctor can diagnose where these pains came from. But there are countless examples of aches and pains that are the result of anxiety despite no apparent physical reason for them to occur.
Neck Pain And Headaches From Stress
Stress is nothing more than our reaction to a provocation that upsets our physical and/or mental equilibrium. Therefore, stress is an inevitable part of life. Nevertheless, when we are faced with stress, our fight or flight response can be triggered this causes the production of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol to increase and rush through your body.
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Can Physical Therapy Help With Stress Related Neck Pain Andshoulder Tension
Theres a multitude of evidence to support the effectiveness ofphysical therapy when it comes to reducing shoulder pain and decreased range of motion. Physical therapy treatment options for shoulder pain include manual therapy, joint mobilization, therapeutic exercises, stretching, therapeutic ultrasound, laser therapy, and modalities such as electrical stimulation/TENS, heat or ice.
Physical therapy can be a safe and effective option for managing the effects of severe stress. If your stress-induced shoulder and neck pain lasts for more than a few weeks, give us a call orrequest an appointment to discuss potential treatment options.
What Are The Causes Of Neck Pain
Neck pain is your bodys warning signal that the system is out of balance or overloaded. It is telling you that you need to change your daily routine.
Some causes for neck pain can be:
Poor posture: the main cause of pain and tension in the neck could be when you lean forward. Your neck muscles must compensate for this movement by overstretching and constantly pulling against it. This mainly affects people who work on computers for hours and look down onto the screen. They also strain their neck and shoulders by reaching forward to operate the keyboard and mouse. This upper body position is extremely stressful for the ligaments and muscles around your cervical spine.
Shallow breathing: even your breathing can cause tension in your neck. Everyday life and primarily sedentary activities often encourage an unhealthy breathing pattern. You breathe shallowly through your chest and forget about breathing from your abdomen. The result is that the diaphragm does not move enough and the fascia stick together. The lungs need to expand when you inhale. If they cannot expand toward the abdomen, chest or back, the only way is up. This leads to raised shoulders and tension in the neck.
An awkward sleeping position: if you sleep with a kinked or twisted cervical spine, you may often experience neck pain or blockages in the morning after sleeping and are less flexible in your shoulders and cervical spine.
90 percent of all neck pain is the result of poor posture.
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Rest On A Supportive Mattress
As we mentioned above, resting on an unsupportive mattress can cause the muscles between the shoulder blades to strain. If body weight is not evenly distributed throughout the night, you may end up in uncomfortable sleep positions that tense up the back muscles. Over time, this can lead to chronic upper back pain.
The best mattress for back painis one that keeps the spine resting in a safe, neutral position so back muscles can fully relax and recover. When the spine is kept in alignment with the hips and shoulders and the joints are cushioned, you will experience deeper, more restorative sleep and wake with less pain.
Neck And Pain Disability Scale
The NPAD is a 20 item measure specifically developed for patients with neck pain to assess neck pain and related disability . It measures the intensity of pain, its interference with vocational, recreational, social and functional aspects of living and the extent of associated emotional factors. Patients respond to each item by marking along a 10-cm visual analogue scale. Item scores range from 0 to 5, and the total score is the sum of the item scores. A valid NPAD score can be generated if no more than 15% of the items are missing. The NPAD has been shown to have validity in comparison to other self-reported pain measures as well as supporting constructs of mood and neuroticism. Recently, a German version of the NPAD was developed and validated for the use in primary care settings.
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The Link Between Anxiety Depression And Back Pain
Youd be hard-pressed to find someone who didnt experience some level of anxiety in 2020. With endless news channels putting the fear of death in us if we left our homes, picked up the mail, or that wed kill loved ones with a hug, anxiety was an emotion circling through many of our systems in 2020.
It is important to remember that negative feelings and emotions like sadness, depression, anxiety, and guilt are all normal and healthy responses to stress in life and don’t necessarily signify a mental health disorder, says Dr. Bonte. If our mental health is impacted and we are struggling to deal with this, this can physically manifest as increased muscle tension, spasms, and a decreased threshold for pain.
Being in a state of constant stress or chronic stress causes muscles to be tense and taut for an extended period, which can lead to back pain as well as headaches, according to the American Psychological Association.
The mind and the body are connected and it is well documented that psychological diagnoses such as depression and anxiety can make back pain stress worse. The inverse is also true an increase in pain can worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety, says Dr. Bonte. A holistic approach to mental health and spine care is important when addressing back pain, particularly in people who have psychiatric diagnoses.