Can stress cause shoulder and neck pain

Can Stress Cause Neck Pain? 7 Ways To Alleviate Neck Pain

Stress can manifest itself in many ways, including tight muscles or headaches. When we experience long term stress, our bodies can hold tension in our neck and shoulder muscles, which can lead to pain. Neck pain is a common symptom caused by persistent stress. The more stressed we are, the more tense our muscles become, causing more pain and discomfort. You may also develop tension headaches. So what can you do to help settle down the pain? Keep reading for our top tips on how to relieve neck pain from stress.

How to manage neck pain from stress:

1. Physiotherapy and Massage therapy

Soft tissue massage can help to release tight and overworked muscles, reduce spasms and assist in tissue regeneration. Physiotherapy or remedial massage has a great effect on stress reduction. It can promote a decrease in cortisol, which is the hormone produced when we are stressed and in pain. Massage also promotes increased levels of serotonin and dopamine, to improve your mood, encourage relaxation and relieve your pain.

2. Heat

Heat works to increase blood flow and relax muscles, to help reduce the tension. If you have a hot pack at home, apply it to your neck and shoulders for approximately 20 minutes before you go to bed. A hot bath or shower also works well and is soothing for tense neck muscles.

3. Stretching

Gentle neck stretches can help improve your flexibility and range of motion. They also help to loosen up the tightness in your neck muscles. When we are stressed we tend to hunch our shoulders and carry extra tension in the muscles. Doing regular stretches can help prevent the muscles from tightening to the point where they cause pain.

4. Strengthening exercises

Strengthening your upper body muscles is essential in preventing neck pain. When we are weak between the shoulder blades, the muscles at the top of your shoulders (trapezius) and in your neck become overactive. This means they overcompensate and become very tight and sore. By strengthening your upper back muscles, your neck will be better supported. The overactive muscles will learn to switch off and not carry as much of the load. If you go to the gym, doing exercises such as rows or lat pull downs work really well. Otherwise, there are exercises at home you can do using small hand weights or theraband. Speak to a physio about what exercises would be best for you.

5. Go for a walk

Sometimes we just need some time out. Step away from your desk and go for a walk to clear your head and have a break from all the stresses in your life. Exercise releases endorphins, which are the hormones that make us feel good. Make time to go for a walk every day. You might also like to listen to music or podcasts while you walk to shift your focus to something different.

6. Sleep

Our body repairs itself while we sleep. Some of the questions you should be asking yourself:

  • Do you have good sleeping habits?
  • Are you getting enough sleep each night?
  • Are you spending too long looking at your phone or computer before going to bed?
  • Are you having caffeinated drinks in the evening?

If you suffer from poor sleep, perhaps consider what other lifestyle aspects may be contributing. You may also want to think about whether you have a good pillow that supports your neck properly. Your physiotherapist can help advise you on the best pillow to support your neck and best mattress for your spine.

7. See a Physiotherapist

Physiotherapy treatment is really effective in relieving neck pain. Your physiotherapist will use hands on manual therapy techniques to relieve muscle tightness and joint stiffness. They can also use ultrasound, heat packs and TENS for pain relief. They will prescribe you with an exercise program including stretches and strength work which will be specifically tailored to your condition to help speed up your recovery. They can also give you advice on how to set up your workstation and improve your posture, as well as give you tips on how to manage the pain.

If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact us. We offer both Physiotherapy and remedial massage services. Give us a call on 9875 3760 or email [email protected]

Tension in Neck and Shoulders From Anxiety: 5 Home Remedies

The areas where you’re 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.

Let’s explore several simple techniques you can use to help release tension in your neck and shoulders, as well as some stress management strategies to help calm your mind and body.

When you experience a stressful event or a bout of anxiety, your muscles contract, sometimes forcefully. This is an automatic or reflex reaction. It’s known as a stress response or “fight or flight” response.

It’s your body’s way of gearing up to face a perceived physical threat that you’ll need to fight off or run away from. Along with muscle tension, you may also notice other physical symptoms when you’re stressed or anxious, such as:

  • a fast heart rate
  • quick, shallow breathing
  • cold skin
  • sweating

Although your body’s stress response is designed to help you deal with physical threats, your body responds in the same way when the threat isn’t physical. Your muscles may tighten up when you’re stuck in traffic, dealing with pressure at work, or watching the news.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), your muscles and other organs may only relax again once the perceived threat has passed.

If stress is ongoing — meaning the stressful situation doesn’t seem to have a clear end — your body may stay in a heightened state of readiness to face a threat. As a result, your muscles may stay tense and tight for much longer than they need to.

According to the APA, ongoing muscle tension in your neck and shoulders can lead to more serious issues like back and shoulder pain, body aches, and migraine and tension headaches.

Preventing stress-related neck and shoulder tension isn’t always easy to do, especially in today’s busy world. But, there are techniques and strategies that may help relieve muscle tension and ease pain and discomfort.

Here are five stretches and poses you can do on a daily basis to help relieve tension and tightness in your neck and shoulders.

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The neck stretch is a deep stretch that eases tension in your neck and helps improve your range of motion.

  1. Stand tall with your left arm at your side.
  2. Place your right hand on your head with your fingers pointing to the left side.
  3. Gently pull your head toward the right side until you feel a stretch in the left side of your neck.
  4. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and return to center.
  5. Repeat on left side.
  6. Do 2 to 3 times on each side.

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The neck release is a gentle way to loosen tension in both your shoulders and neck.

  1. Stand tall with both arms at your sides.
  2. Lower your head and bring your chin toward your chest.
  3. Gently tilt your head towards the right side and pause for 30 seconds. You should feel a stretch in the left side of your neck.
  4. Bring your head back to the center and lift to the starting position.
  5. Repeat before changing sides.
  6. Do 3 to 5 times on each side.

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Child’s Pose or Balasana is a well-known yoga pose that can help relieve neck and back pain. It’s also a gentle stretch that helps you relax.

  1. Get on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the floor, wrists under your shoulders, and knees under your hips.
  2. Sit back on your heels, lengthen your spine, and walk your hands in front of you. Make sure to hinge at your hips.
  3. Fold forward and keep your arms extended in front of you.
  4. Hold this position for 60 to 90 seconds. Focus on your breath while you release tension in your neck and shoulders.
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat.
  6. Do 2 to 3 times.

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The Cat-Cow or Chakravakasana is a yoga pose that allows you to stretch your back, torso, and neck, helping to release tension in these areas.

  1. Get on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the floor, wrists under your shoulders, and knees under your hips.
  2. Inhale and move into Cow Pose. Drop your belly towards the mat and lift your chin and chest. Look up at the ceiling. Open your chest and shoulders. Pause for a few seconds.
  3. Exhale and move into Cat Pose. Pull your belly toward your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. You should be looking down at the mat. Pause for a few seconds.
  4. Inhale and come back into Cow Pose and repeat the sequence.
  5. Do 10 to 12 times.

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Thread the needle is a stretch that helps release tension in your back, neck, and shoulders.

  1. Get on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the floor, wrists under your shoulders, and knees under your hips.
  2. Slide your right hand (palm up) on the floor to the left side of your body. Your body will rotate with the movement, and your right shoulder will touch the floor as you look to the left side. Use your left hand to support your weight.
  3. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds and return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat on the left side.
  5. Do 2 to 3 times on each side.

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 you’re 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.

We all experience stress. It’s almost impossible not to feel anxious or stressed at some point or another. But, just as your body has an automatic response to stress, it also has a built-in system to calm you down.

Known as the relaxation response, it helps you recover from the “fight or flight” response. It brings all your systems back to normal and returns your body to a calm, resting state. The relaxation response also helps protect your body from health issues related to the stress response.

There are a variety of skills and strategies you can use to help the relaxation response kick in. Here are some of them:

Stress management skills
  • Exercise and physical activity. Moving your body, even for 20 minutes a day, may help lower your overall stress levels and reduce tension in your muscles. If you can, get outdoors and take a brisk walk in nature.
  • Breathing exercises. Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is one of the simplest ways to relax. Voluntarily controlling your breathing can signal your entire body to relax. With belly breathing, you breathe in deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to expand, and exhale through your mouth. Once you know how to breathe this way, you can use this skill often to help you relax.
  • Yoga. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, mind and body practices like yoga can help relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and boost your overall well-being. If you’re new to yoga, you may want to begin with a 10-minute restorative yoga session.
  • Meditation. Research has shown that practicing meditation may help reduce the inflammation response caused by stress, and also decrease anxiety. Start with 5 minutes of meditation at a time, and increase by a few minutes each week.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). According to a 2013 study, PMR can help reduce symptoms of chronic neck pain. To do PMR, simply tense each muscle group in your body one at a time, and hold for 5 seconds. On the exhale, relax the muscles for 10 to 20 seconds before moving to the next muscle group.

Keep in mind that as with any new skill, regular practice is the key. These practices may not work for you right away and that’s OK. But, as you use them over time, you’ll likely find that they help return your body to a calmer, more restful state.

Tension and tightness in your neck and shoulders is a common symptom of stress and anxiety. It’s part of your body’s way of gearing up to survive a perceived physical threat. In other words, it’s part of the “fight or flight” stress response.

Fortunately, muscle tension in your neck and shoulders responds well to several different techniques, including targeted stretching, yoga, and other relaxation methods.

However, if the pain in your neck or shoulders is severe, or doesn’t improve with stretches or other self-care techniques, make sure to follow up with your doctor.

Neck and Shoulder Pain: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

The neck can hurt with varying intensity and cause other unpleasant conditions, such as shoulder pain, limited movement, headache. What to do for neck and shoulder pain? Do I need to take any medication? Or should you just limit physical activity?

Why the neck hurts and how it is connected with osteochondrosis

    Neck pain is not an independent disease. This is a consequence of pathological processes that occur in the spine and surrounding tissues. The most common cause of neck pain is osteochondrosis. Sharp pain in the neck can also occur due to hypothermia or as a result of an unsuccessful turn of the head, any sudden movement that can cause muscle spasm. However, the most common mechanism for the occurrence of pain in the neck is associated with a violation of the structures of the spine - deformation of the vertebrae and their displacement, which are characteristic of osteochondrosis. When the vertebrae are displaced, they impinge on the nerve roots that come out of the spine. If such an infringement occurs in the cervical region, then there is pain in the neck.
    However, every person who is familiar with this problem will object: it is not only the neck that hurts. Yes, other symptoms often occur when the nerve roots in the cervical spine are pinched. The most frequent of them:
  • neck and shoulder pain
  • pain in the neck when moving the head, when trying to turn the head to the right or left side (depending on which side the nerve is pinched), tilt the head back or tilt down
  • feeling of stiffness in the muscles of the shoulder on the affected side
  • Drawing pain in the arm, deterioration of sensation in the arm, feeling of numbness, tingling, weakness in the fingers of the hand
  • headache, dizziness, up to bouts of vomiting

Please note:

    pain in the arm, pain in the shoulder, numbness in the limb can be associated with dangerous cardiovascular diseases, so it is important to consult a doctor if these symptoms are present. Headaches, dizziness and associated bouts of nausea and vomiting may indicate other serious diseases not related to the spine, so an urgent consultation with a specialist is necessary!

How to relieve neck and shoulder pain due to osteochondrosis or hypothermia

      There are several important things to consider when you experience neck pain and associated shoulder pain or headaches. The simplest thing you can do to relieve acute neck pain is to take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (ibuprofen, aspirin, diclofenac). An anti-inflammatory drug in the form of a cream, gel or ointment will also help. You need to rub it not only in that part of the neck where, as it seems, the nerve was pinched, but also in the nearest areas, including the muscles of the shoulder, where pain and stiffness are felt.

    It is also important to limit movements (do not try to turn your head to the right, left, down or up through the pain), do not make sudden head movements at all; spine.
    There is no need to heat or, conversely, cool the affected area. It is best to provide "safe warmth" such as wrapping a cotton scarf around your neck to avoid hypothermia. You should not do any warm compresses, but you can use external painkillers with a slight warming effect.
    All of these methods will help relieve pain in the next day or two after it occurs. However, in order to avoid attacks of sharp pain in the neck in the future, you need to take care of the health of the spine in general and the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis.

How to treat osteochondrosis of the cervical spine and avoid attacks of pain in the neck and shoulder

Some tips for those who often complain of neck pain, you can read here.
Recall that the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis involves several stages and types of exposure.

  1. Visit to an orthopedist or vertebrologist. This specialist will help to “release” the pinched nerve and return the shifted vertebrae to their place. Before the procedure, you may need an additional study - X-ray or MRI.
  2. Physiotherapy and therapeutic exercises. It makes it possible to improve the nutrition of the structures of the spine, strengthen the deep muscles of the back, and improve the general condition of the spine.
  3. If necessary, take painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
  4. Taking a preparation of B vitamins can replace both painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs due to its ability to restore the sheaths of nerve fibers. In particular, the positive effects of vitamin B1 (its fat-soluble form of benfotiamine) and vitamin B6 in combination have been proven. Both of them are present, for example, in the composition of the drug Milgamma tablets.
  5. Compliance with the regime of work and rest. The state of stress, constant work while sitting significantly worsen the condition of the spine. You need to make sure that the place to sleep is ergonomic - with constant pain in the neck, it is advisable to sleep on an orthopedic pillow.

How stress affects our spine - Studio 5 massages

It is unlikely that today there is a person who would not face the concept of stress directly - the modern rhythm of life somehow reduces us to stress. This is a sedentary lifestyle, and lack of sleep, problems in business, at work and at school. As a result, you feel not only psychological heaviness and discomfort, but also very real back pain. Yes, stress is one of the causes of these pains. Let's see why.

The occurrence of stress

Muscle contraction is a basic reaction to stress, inherent in nature. And therefore, the longer the stressful period, the worse the condition of the back. First of all, due to a long spasm, the paravertebral muscles of the back suffer. It should be understood that not only the muscles, but also the tissues adjacent to them are in a prolonged reduced state of tension. As a result, the spinal nerve is compressed, and this opens the way to all the problems that worry our clients. The reason is that a pinched spinal nerve cannot fully transmit impulses to where it should (internal organs, muscles, bones, joints).

Pinched nerve is not so bad, the real problems start when the pain becomes cyclical. Increasing pain in the back and muscles reduces not only the desire, but also the ability to play sports, walk in the fresh air and do everything that can reduce stress on the spine.

Unfortunately, most of us seek help only when the level of pain becomes unbearable. In this case, you can not do without the help of a specialist.

Stress Prevention Triad

Sport is perhaps the best preventive remedy for stress. Sports activities release hormones of joy (endorphins), which can reduce psychogenic back pain, which often occurs against the background of fatigue and lack of sleep.

Relaxing massage , yoga, swimming, outdoor walks. All these types of activities help to reduce the load, relax the muscles of the body and, as a result, reduce the level of physical stress in the body.

Healthy sleep . Dozens of books have been written about when to go to bed and when to get up. But absolutely everyone agrees on the duration of healthy sleep - for an adult, this figure is 8 hours. And yes, go to bed before midnight!

How to understand that I'm stressed and it's time for a massage

When we stop relaxing, we all become similar to each other - the neck is pulled into the shoulders, the posture (if any) changes to a hunched back.

Learn more