Does Anxiety Cause Neck And Shoulder Pain
The areas where youre likely to feel stress or anxiety-related tension are in your neck and shoulders. Over time, this can lead to chronic pain as well as other health issues. Fortunately, muscle tension in your neck and shoulders responds well to stretching, yoga, relaxation, and other stress management methods.
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Getting Help For Your Pain
So you think your neck pain might be stress-related. Even so, allowing Dr. Mallavaram to examine you is still a critical part of the diagnosing process.
Through a physical examination and perhaps even image testing, he may be able to find something else that could be affecting you, or he could help you pinpoint the location of your pain. Any of these results could benefit you in treating your pain long-term.
There are several ways you can treat pain of this nature, and the most important is to try and reduce stress. This can be done through relaxation and visualization techniques, meditation, and better prioritization of your needs. Group or individualized therapy can also do a world of good.
However, there are many physical treatments that could help as well, such as:
- Physical therapy
- Avoiding smoking
In some cases, certain injections may be helpful for those with severe chronic neck pain that has gone beyond the point where the above suggestions alone can help. Dr. Mallavaram will be able to assist you in determining which treatment option will be best going forward.
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. This 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. This can directly affect the muscles and nerves that run through your shoulders, neck, and spine.
Aside from psychological and emotional stress, there are other issues that lead to feeling sore shoulders. These can include overuse, poor posture, long periods of sitting, incorrect or poor sleeping positions, and cases of injury.
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Stress And Pain Negatively Impacts Life
Can stress cause shoulder pain? Yes! Can stress cause back pain? Yes! Can stress cause muscle pain? Yes! Often, people do not address stress until the neck, shoulder, and back pain becomes unbearable or interferes with work and other activities. It is important to see a doctor who will help you develop a plan for reducing the stress placed on muscles, tendons, and ligaments and to manage the pain.
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How To Treat A Stiff Neck
- Apply ice or heat: For the first two to three days, apply ice for up to 20 minutes several times a day. On the following days, apply heat to the area by taking warm showers or using a hot compress.
- Take over-the-counter medicine: You can take ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain and inflammation.
- Massage the neck: A gentle massage may reduce stiffness and relieve tension in the neck area. “Since most stiff neck symptoms occur from muscle strain, muscle massage is ideal,” says Doherty. You can do this on your own at home by massaging sore areas.
- Stretch the muscles: Slowly move your head up and down, and then side to side, to exercise and stretch your neck muscles.
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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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Stretches For Neck Tension
Some general neck stretches may help to ease out a little of the tension in your neck. Try doing these a couple of times a day if possible:
- Standing, drop your right ear to your right shoulder very slowly while continuing to look ahead. Hold for 10 seconds then swap and lower to the opposite shoulder. Repeat twice more on each side. To increase the stretch, try to keep the shoulders relaxed.
- Standing again, lower your chin to your chest, hold for 10 seconds and then look up to the ceiling and hold for 10. Repeat twice more, taking care to move the neck very slowly.
- Next, standing straight, slowly look over your right shoulder and hold for 10 seconds. Return to the centre and then slowly look over your left shoulder for 10 seconds. Repeat this 3 times.
Adhesive Capsulitis Or Frozen Shoulder Syndrome
Adhesive capsulitis, more commonly known as frozen shoulder syndrome, occurs when scar tissue forms in the shoulder joint.
This can occur when an injury does not allow a complete range of motion in the shoulder. Without movement over time, the ligaments and tendons shorten to the range of motion needed and stay that way.
How Do You Get Rid Of Neck Pain From Stress
First of all, I would advise seeing a doctor about any form of neck pain, just to make sure you know for certain what’s causing your discomfort. There are, of course, many factors that can lead to neck pain besides stress.
If you know that stress is the reason for your pain, here are a few ways to help ease the problem:
Massage – This could be helpful when stressed as it works on easing tension in the body. Also, depending on the type of massage, this can be a very relaxing activity in itself. It is important to factor in some ‘me time’ like this when feeling stressed. If you can’t get around to having a massage done professionally, have a friend or someone else do it. If this doesn’t work for you, try heated lavender bags or a hot water bottle on the area instead. Try to avoid giving your own shoulders a massage.
Posture Try to think more consciously about how you sit and walk. Are your shoulders hunched over? Are your muscles tight? Are you always looking to the ground instead of ahead? Put reminders to keep your body relaxed and aligned in areas clearly visible to you. Some particular exercises can also improve posture such as plank, back extensions and bridge. You can check out our Get Active videos for advice on how to do some of these movements.
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Why Does My Neck Pain Cause Headaches
In fact, many neck problems can irritate, strain, or compress the nerves in the neck, which could trigger a headache.
Often, neck pain is caused by poor posture, neck strain, or injury.
In other cases, it could be caused by medical conditions, including a pinched nerve or herniated cervical disk.
There are several factors that can contribute to neck pain, including injuries, strains, and certain medical conditions.
Some common causes of neck pain include:
- stiff neck muscles
- herniated disc
A herniated cervical disc occurs when one of the soft discs between one of the seven vertebrae in your neck becomes damaged and bulges out of your spinal column. If this presses on a nerve, you can feel pain in your neck and head.
A pinched nerve occurs when a nerve in your neck is irritated or compressed. With so many sensory nerve fibers in the spinal cord in your neck, a pinched nerve here can result in a number of symptoms, including:
- stiff neck
- headache caused by moving your neck
Other symptoms can include shoulder pain along with muscle weakness and numbness or tingling sensations.
Some types of headaches can contribute to neck pain, which may be caused by issues with certain muscles or nerves.
The source of a tension headache is often traced back to a buildup of:
Some types of headaches could be caused by certain neck problems, including injury, inflammation, and chronic neck tension.
Treatment Options For Stress
The first thing we do with every patient who has back pain is determine its root cause. Its important to understand that no adult can expect to live 100 percent pain-free or stress-free. However, we can discuss ways to minimize discomfort and help patients feel less tense.
An effective way to reduce stress and back pain is to exercise and stretch more.
Physical activity can release endorphins and improve overall health, which can help reduce stress. Make a point to get up during the work day and do a few laps around the office every few hours, or try a standing desk. At home, reserve time to exercise. Physical therapy also can help relieve spine pain and return your neck and back to optimal flexibility. A physical therapist can show you specific stretches to pinpoint trouble areas in your neck and back.
Eating a healthy diet also can help reduce stress.
When you eat well long term, your general health can improve, and you will likely feel more energetic. Healthy eating is key to weight loss and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight offloads pressure from your spine and improves your posture.
Additionally, its important to make time in your schedule to relax.
Many patients with back pain are very busy with work, family, and social commitments. Carve out time to read a good book, spend time with family and friends, or practice mindfulness or meditation.
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But We Also Have A Lot Of Ways To Deal With And Lessen Stress Every Day Here Are Some Ways You Can Reduce Your Stress:
Stay positive: Stress usually happens when you have a bad mood, but the problem is that stress can also make you feel even worse. This makes a cycle of stress and bad feelings. Stay positive to break the cycle. You can do this by making a plan for the day or by saying a phrase to yourself over and over. Something like, Im happy and optimistic. If you find that too corny, try writing in a journal about the things youre grateful for.
Accept the things you cant control: Most of the time, the things in our lives that stress us out are things we cant change. Letting these things happen on their own will ease your mind and give you more time and energy to focus on things you can control.
Dont be passive, but dont be aggressive: Sometimes our stress comes from not standing up for ourselves. At other times, its because we were too angry. Try to find a middle ground where you can stand up for yourself without getting mean. Its not easy, but youll be on the right track if you stay positive and accept the things you cant change.
Practice relaxation: There are many ways to do this, but the simplest and easiest is to just breathe. You can count 10 breaths with each one. Yoga and tai chi are two other great ways to relax. You could also take a bath, light a scented candle, or read in your fuzzy socks. Just make sure you do things regularly that make you feel good.
Stress And Anxiety Are Known Factors That Can Cause Neck Pain
Tension can build up in your neck and cause muscles to feel tight and achy. Neck pain can cause pain to move down into the shoulder area and cause headaches. Doing neck stretches on a regular basis can help loosen tight muscles. Seeking out therapy or support groups can help reduce daily stress. Meditation can help calm your thoughts and anxiety. Massage treatments can help relax tight and tense muscles. Daily exercise can help release endorphins which is known to reduce stress. If you are performing the tips outlined above and continue to have neck pain, please inform your provider for additional guidance.
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Arthritis May Cause Stiff Neck And Shoulder Pain
As we age, our bodies wear down. The discs and joints in the neck start to degenerate over time, and we can develop cervical spondylosis or arthritis in the neck. Arthritis usually causes neck stiffness and pain that can come in waves, aggravated by strenuous physical activities.
In more significant cases of arthritis, even sitting or driving for long periods will make the stiff neck worse. You can also develop headaches, balance problems, and numbness in your hands or arms. Medication may help alleviate the pain, but physiotherapy or massage therapy can correct your posture in the long term.
Stress Management And Neck Pain
Since stress plays a role in neck pain, it stands to reason that if you control the stress, you reduce the pain. Learn why stress management is not as hard to achieve as it sounds.
Most of us are familiar with emotional stress causing a headache. We even have a name for it tension headache. Stress also has a physical effect on the muscles in your neck. As you tense up, the tightness in your neck muscles contributes to neck pain. Chronic neck pain can also be a cause of irritability, fatigue, and even depression that can add a lot of stress to your life. It can get to be a vicious circle.
Neck Pain: How Stress Adds to Discomfort
“Stress is not the likely cause of neck pain, but it can certainly bring out the symptoms of underlying neck pain,” says Robert Gotlin, DO, director of orthopaedic and sports rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.
Stress has also been shown to influence how people feel pain. If you are under stress, pain can actually feel worse. “As stress goes, up I definitely see more patients with neck pain. Every year around tax time the number of patients with neck pain increases, especially among Wall Street types here in New York,” observes Dr. Gotlin.
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Neck Pain: Relieving Stress
Take an active role. Knowing that a rapid return to activity is often the best medicine can get you going forward with a positive outlook.
Neck Pain: Get Moving Now
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How To Control Neck Pain From Anxiety
Generally, when anxiety causes neck pain through muscle tension, the best thing to do is to control the muscle tension first and anxiety second. Most anxiety symptoms require you to respond to the anxiety directly in order for the symptoms to go away, but muscle tension has a tendency to linger. This means that additional treatments might be needed. Consider the following:
- Massage – Massage is one of the best ways to reduce neck pain. It can either be a self-massage or one performed by someone else. Either decision you make, massaging out your tense muscles can genuinely assist in reducing muscle discomfort in your body. This will also help in relieving some of the stress that caused the muscle tension to begin with.
- Hot Bath/Shower – The application of heat is very soothing to tense muscles. A hot bath is ideal however, a hot shower can still be beneficial if you stand in there long enough to have your muscles warm up. Heat forces muscles to relax, making it harder to hold tension. For some, hot water and/or steam can be soothing for anxiety.
- Exercise – If it is not too painful, exercise can improve muscle tension symptoms. Jogging and stretching are especially helpful. When you regularly workout your muscles, it will become harder for them to tense up during times of stress.
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The Fight Or Flight Response
Stress is actually a survival technique. The well known fight or flight response. Humans used to be in the middle of the food chain. Life was often dangerous and when faced with danger we needed to react. Muscles tense, blood pressure and heart rate increase. At the same time our rest and digest system shuts down. We divert energy away from long term survival strategies and put it into surviving the next few minutes.Once the danger past we moved on. These days its rare we face a true fight or flight scenario. Instead, we have prolonged stress that goes on for weeks, months or even years. It places stress on our bodies and at the same time delays healing. We start to hurt.
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