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How Stress Can Aggravate Neck Pain

We’ve all experienced it and know how frustrating it is to live under the pressure of balancing your professional and personal life, and how juggling these responsibilities can lead to chronic stress. Believe it or not, these psychosocial stressors can cause neck pain. This happens when tension builds up in the neck, causes the muscles to feel tight or achy and later on affect your joints. Neck pain can spread to the shoulders and be accompanied by headaches, as well, called a tension headache. Stress can also influence how you feel pain, amplifying the underlying problem causing your pain symptoms. The good news is, you can lessen the physical toll stress takes on you and manage your stress-related neck pain.

Research published in the BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders journal found that stressful life experiences are closely related to chronic neck pain. The study examined 448 patients suffering from neck pain and found that patients who had depression and anxiety tended to have the worst neck pain that lasted longer, and they were less likely to be active in their own recovery. Fortunately, there is hope, and you can get neck pain relief from learning stress reduction techniques.

By working to keep your stress at bay, you may notice relief from neck pain. The best medicine is to continue to push forward with a positive outlook. For example:

  • Do neck mobility exercises: By moving your neck correctly in all planes and within a comfortable range you can decrease your neck pain.
  • Practice healthier habits: If you’re eating junk food and relying on coffee or cigarettes to get through every day, it can make you more agitated and interfere with rest. Eat a healthier diet and get enough physical activity to get your blood flowing and muscles moving.
  • Don’t smoke: Smoking is a well-known health hazard, and it can increase stress and anxiety for nicotine addicts in between cigarette breaks. Smoking also slows the healing process, as it impedes blood supply to the neck muscles.
  • Relax or meditate: A positive attitude can make all the difference. Through meditation, you can quell anxiety and calm your thoughts. There are plenty of guided meditation videos on YouTube or you can learn how to meditate through online classes.
  • Get a massage: Muscle tension can cause tightness in the neck and shoulder muscles. However, massage improves blood flow to tight, sore muscles and is a great way to relieve stress.
  • Seek help from friends and family: Tackling stress by yourself may be overwhelming. You don’t have to do it alone, though. Ask your loved ones for help shouldering the load, such as running an errand, or even asking your children to do more chores around the house.
  • Go to therapy or a support group: Unhealthy thought patterns are often behind chronic stress and anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to help people cope. If you would rather do a support group or join an online forum to share your concerns, you can get further support and boost your morale.

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 (727) 300-2537 to set up an appointment with an orthopedic doctor.