Neck Tension Caused Due To Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the main causes for neck tension. Patient may feel neck tension after a bout of anxiety or other symptoms of stress. Patient may experience an episode of anxiety, nervousness, fear and increased stress before the neck tension occurs. The pain or tension in the neck can be slight to moderate or even severe. The symptoms can come in waves, such as with increased intensity one moment and then subside the next moment.
When a person behaves in an anxious manner it triggers the stress response which is responsible for bringing certain psychological, physiological and emotional changes in the body which allows the body to deal with any danger. This is known as fight or flight response. The body responds to stress by tightening the muscles. These muscles, which have a tightening effect, can be in the any muscle group in the body, including the neck muscles and muscles in the back of the head and shoulder. This results in neck tension, which is commonly seen in anxious and stressed people. Neck tension is a common indication of anxiety and stress.
How to Relieve Neck Tension Due to Anxiety?
What Is Psychosomatic Pain
The mind and body are linked in complex and diverse ways. Psychosomatic pain, which is more commonly called somatic pain, is pain that has no direct physical cause and often comes along with mental or emotional pain or discomfort.
For example, a stress response leads to changes in hormones and the nervous system that decrease the effectiveness of the immune system.
Similarly, muscle tension naturally follows an anxiety-related stress response as the body prepares to face the danger perceived or caused by the anxious thoughts.
Tackle Stress Head On
If your stress has become a long-term issue, its best advised that you tackle the source of your tension directly. Perhaps there are impending layoffs in your place of work or you’re dealing with a bad breakup. This is a great time to prepare and ease your mind about the days to come.
Reach out to family and friends so you can discuss what is weighing on your mind. A close support system can do wonders for helping you put troubles in perspective, and can help keep your mind off the negative things in your life.
Making an appointment with a therapist or joining an organized support group is another way to gain coping skills for your stress or anxiety. They are better equipped to assist you and can be a great place to share your challenges if youd prefer not to discuss them with relatives or friends. Remember, you dont have to overcome your stress alone and you dont have to hold on to it. Find the right resources for you and get your life back.
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Neck Tension Caused Due To Sub
Improper or Sub-optimal posture can be commonly seen when a person works at his/her desk and stares at the computer screen for long periods of time. We tend to sit in a slouched position and keep the neck flexed forward, which increases the stress on the neck muscles leading to neck tension.
How to Relieve Neck Tension Due to Sub-Optimal Posture?
Avoid drawing your head forward when sitting and working on your computer as forward tilting of the head increases the weight of the head on the spine. This leads to shortening of the muscles in the front of the neck and lengthening of the muscles in the back of the neck resulting in tensing or tightening of the neck muscles in order to accommodate the new head & neck position. Sub-optimal posture also increases the stress on the spinal discs and vertebrae.
When sitting at a desk gently tilt your head back in alignment with your shoulders and try to keep your head erect. Try to keep your head position in this manner. If you feel that your head is tilting forward again, then keep hourly reminders to adjust your position.
Stretches For Neck And Shoulder Pain
Massage, yoga, and rotator cuff physical therapy are all great ways to improve proper body mechanics and relieve unwanted neck and shoulder tension. In addition, it is suggested to do a few stretches to see if you can get your shoulders and neck muscles to relax a bit. Here are a few simple, yet effective stretches you can incorporate throughout your day.
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Ways To Relieve Tension
The following exercises can help alleviate tension in the shoulders and neck.
- Neck stretches â Looking forward, very gently tilt your head sideways moving your ear towards your shoulder. Move only as far as youâre able without straining. Repeat the opposite way and work up to three times on each side3.
- Shoulder rolls â Whilst standing or sitting roll your shoulders up, back and down in one direction before changing to the other direction. This should be completed at least 10 times in each direction4.
- Shoulder raises – With a neutral spine, and your shoulders back slowly lift your shoulders towards your ears. Hold for a few second before lowering them back down. Repeat at least 5 times5.
- Cross body arm swings â Standing with feet hip width apart lift your arms to the side and squeeze your shoulder blades. Bring your arms in gently swinging one under the other and back out again. Repeat at least 10 times6.
- Cross body shoulder stretch â Bring one arm straight across your body and then hook your other arm over the forearm or above the elbow. Feel the stretch for 20 seconds before repeating on the opposite side7.
Releasing Tension In The Shoulders & Chest
The old saying, having the weight of the world on your shoulders, is apt here. When life gets hectic, physical tension and emotional irritability are often stored in the shoulder area: Our shoulders start rounding forward or lifting toward the ears, the head starts jutting forward, and we develop a compressed, defeated posture.
In this next video we give you some easy and effective ways to clear the shoulders, chest, and heart both physically and emotionally:
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Relieving Stress: Mind Over Muscle
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YOU ARE SITTING AT YOUR DESK finishing an important report. You have been working on it for two months, and it is due in 30 minutes. You feel that you need at least another week to finish. Your boss is screaming in the next office he is already in a foul mood. ”This is it,” you say to yourself, ”I can’t take it anymore. I’ll run away and live in Tahiti. Or maybe I’ll just look for another job.”
As you sit frozen at your desk, strange aches and pains creep up on you. Your head is pounding, you have a crick in your neck, your jaw and face feel stiff, your shoulders are cramped and tense. Your body is in gridlock.
Muscle problems like these brew in a zone of the body with the shoulders at its base and the forehead at its peak – the tension triangle. Muscles in this area react dramatically to psychological pressure: the brow furrows, the jaw clenches, the neck tightens and the shoulders rise.
When muscles tighten from severe stress – the kind that makes your heart race, your skin perspire and your mouth dry up – they are part of a primitive physiological reflex that puts the body on guard for danger. Being prepared to spring at an enemy or retreat to safety no doubt did well for our earliest progenitors. But fight or flight is a less-than-elegant response to the psychological wars waged in the workplace.
Once relaxed, you are in better shape to cope with that deadline and your boss.
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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Cervical Retraction Standingwithout A Wall
Stand with good posture. This means your feet are directly beneath your hipsabout 1 foot’s width apart. Your knees should be straight, but not locked shut Keeping your gaze and head level tuck your chin down slightly and then push it as far back as you can.
In order to protect your neck, it’s critical to do this movement gently. Also, as soon as you feel any tension arise in your shoulders or at the front of your neck or throat, stop. You can put one hand on your chin and press it back to help guide the movement if that helps.
Stay in the retracted position for 10-15 seconds. Be sure to breathe and continue to relax those neck and shoulder muscles during that time. Too much tension throws off your alignment and changes the way you use your muscles, resulting in or perpetuating muscle imbalance this may make your neck discomfort worse.
Other Options For Neck And Shoulder Tension
Yoga is an excellent activity to help release stress-related tension in your neck and shoulders. In fact, one study found that 9 weeks of yoga resulted in pain relief and functional improvements in people with neck pain.
There are also some other strategies you can use to help relieve or prevent tension in your neck. For instance you can:
- Apply a warm compress to the tight area.
- Spend a few minutes doing a self-massage.
- Soak in a warm tub, and add a few drops of aromatherapy oil for extra relaxation.
- Adjust your workstation, so your computer is at eye level to avoid neck strain.
- Check your posture while youre at your work desk keep your hips, shoulders, and ears in a straight line.
- Get up and move away from your workstation for a few minutes every hour.
- At night, use a pillow that offers good support for your neck, and is designed to keep your head and neck aligned.
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Common Symptoms Of Stress
Coming to the neck and shoulder part of the discussion, how can one know that the tension in the neck and shoulder is due to stress only? For curing such situations, we first must know that stress is the actual cause of muscle tension in the shoulder & neck. Here are some of the common symptoms of stress and anxiety:
1. Excessive Sweating
More than normal sweating in certain situations is an indicator of being a victim of stress. Irrelevant sweating shows that a person is under extreme pressure and must calm down to a controlled level.
2. Rapid Heart Rate
Faster blood pressure and heart rate are the common symbols of anxiety. People under pressure or overly worried about certain things are prone to be affected by uncontrolled heart rate.
3. Difficulty Breathing
Stress and anxiety sometimes cause panic among the people, which makes it tough for him/them to breathe smoothly.
4. Stiff Muscles
The body muscles get stiff and tightened in such situations. The shoulder and neck move in a limited degree that too in a steady manner, making it difficult to do the smoother and swifter movement in these body parts.
The Primary Cause Of Jaw Tension
Although there can be many causes, a primary reason for jaw tension often goes undiagnosed. Its the same cause for most chronic pain, as medical pioneer Dr. John Sarno discovered: repressed emotions, mostly rage.
This repressed rage begins developing in childhood and builds steam into adulthood.
Our bodies hold tension in the masseter muscles of the jaw as a way of mitigating some of this repressed rage.
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Muscle Knots: A Muscle Freak
Muscle knots are those kinks in your back and the tight,ropy strands in your neck. Also known as trigger points, they are areas where yourmuscles have tensed up and refused to let go.
A trigger point is a muscle spasm a signal from the brain saying, Im not sure what to do, so Im going to freak out and be tight, says Dr. Adams.
Trigger points form as a result of repetitive activity. That might be something like swinging a tennis racket over and over, or for many of us hunching over our desks and pounding the keyboard day in and day out.
The body can endure a lot of stress, but we werentdesigned to do the same activity over and over, every day, he says. Thosetight spots are cries for help.
Towel Exercise Challenge 1
You can add some upper body work and stretchas long as you don’t have a neck, shoulder and/or upper back injury, that is.
While still in the position, bring your arms back over your head if your shoulders are flexible enough. If they are not, place folded blankets and/or pillows in that area to give your arms a place to come to that’s within the range you can handle comfortably.
Again, stay there for a few moments to breathe and relax. You may find some pockets of tension that are sorely in need of release! If that’s the case, ease into this. You don’t have to stay in the position for very long. You can always try again tomorrow. Over time, the intensity and your shoulder range of motion will likely improve and this position will become more comfortable.
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Another Effective Trick To Keep Your Jaw Relaxed
The above exercises are helpful. You can do them at any time .
But as soon as you place your attention on something else, theres a high likelihood that the jaw tension will return.
So heres a trick you can use while you work: gently touch your tongue on the palate right behind your top teeth.
Try making the sound, Nnnnnnnnnnnn, and it should happen automatically.
There should be a slight space between your top and bottom teeth. And your lips should be gently closed .
This establishes the correct tongue posture. The tongue is supposed to remain on the palate at all timesunless eating, drinking, or talking.
If you remind yourself of this tongue posture periodically throughout the day, eventually, you will train your tongue to stay in this position.
Contact Us At Comprehensive Spine Institute For Neck Pain Relief
Are you experiencing a literal pain in the neck? For many, stress management is only one piece of the puzzle for achieving lasting relief from neck pain. At Comprehensive Spine Institute, our board-certified spine surgeons can help you get the relief you crave.
Contact us at 300-2537 to set up an appointment with an orthopedic doctor.
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Stretch To Ease A Tight Neck And Shoulders
“Stretching can help to significantly shift tension and allow the muscles to soften,” Dr. Joy says, offering her favorite neck and shoulder stretch:
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