Pain in the neck and back are often the result of many different causes Fortunately, though, not all of them are related to an underlying physical health condition like arthritis or an injury. However, everyday, nearly 1 in 5 adults will struggle with back or neck pain of some kind that is severe enough to keep them from accomplishing their regular daily activities. Although many will experience this pain, many may not know that stress or even anxiety can actually be at the root of what is causing your neck or back pain–especially if there seems to have no other explanation.
Stress and anxiety can cause a variety of different symptoms, such as insomnia, racing thoughts, or changes in appetite. However, a little less well known symptom is that stress and anxiety are also a major cause of pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. Stress and anxiety trigger certain hormones to be released within the body, such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones signal several changes in the body, one of which manifests itself as increased muscle tension. Overtime, with repeated bouts of anxiety or stress, musculoskeletal issues may develop. One side effect of that is pain in the neck, back, or even the shoulders.
For many, it is no secret that emotional stress can wreak havoc on the body. So, if you are one of the many who suffer from neck or back pain and believe it may be because of stress or anxiety, then here are some tips that are sure to help alleviate the symptoms.
Get a Massage
One of the best ways to relieve tension built up in the muscles is to get a massage. Gently rubbing the muscles, especially when it is done by a trained therapist, can work wonders on a sore muscle. Take care, though, it may be wise to avoid letting someone who is untrained in the field give you a massage, especially if you are experiencing consistent or severe pain in the neck or back, as they may unintentionally cause more damage.
Physical therapy is a great tool to use with almost any sort of muscle or joint pain in the body, and the same can be said with pain in the back or neck that is caused by stress or anxiety. Working with a physical therapist to help manage the pain associated with stress or anxiety can be a great way to stretch and relieve tension in the muscles. They can often give you at-home stretches and workouts that you can use throughout your day as well!
Support Group or CBT
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has worked wonders with being able to help people develop positive thinking patterns and to find alternative ways to cope with their stress or anxiety before it becomes a bigger problem. This can help to treat the source of the problem and may work best in combination with other treatment options like physical therapy. Support groups are also great at providing a place to connect with people who are going through the same thing, and the opportunity to learn new skills through others’ experiences on how best to manage your own stress or anxiety.
Though it may seem a little contradictory at first to relieve muscle tension and pain by exercising more, it has actually been shown to have great effects on pain that is caused by these emotions. Exercising releases endorphins, which help to dull pain, and many report a heightened mood and an overall better sense of well-being. Time in the gym, or working out at home, has also been shown to reduce cortisol levels–a hormone caused by stress and anxiety that increases muscle tension.
Hot Shower or Bath
Sometimes there is nothing more soothing than a hot shower or bath. They have also been known to reduce muscle tension and to relieve stress, both of which are great for neck and back pain. Heat makes it more difficult for our muscles to hold in tension, so this may be a great option to help with your back or neck pain. Maybe even try sitting in a sauna after your new workout at the gym.
Practicing meditation has been shown to have a number of health benefits, including an increased sense of calm, peace, and balance. All of which are great for reducing thoughts associated with stress or anxiety. You can look for guided meditation videos on the internet or try attending a local class or workshop.
Yoga is another great option that has helped many relieve their stress and anxiety. Research has also shown that just a few minutes of yoga everyday have great effects on the improvement of your overall health and well-being. Not only that, but it helps to create a sense of inner peace while stretching your body. Try attending a yoga class or looking up different poses online.
Eating a healthier diet has actually been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, along with a large number of other added health benefits. A simple change in your diet for more nutritional foods may be just what you are missing to help relieve stress. Try avoiding caffeinated drinks as they do nothing to relieve stress or anxiety, and might often be a trigger for these emotions.
All of these tips are great examples of how you can try to relieve some of the tension and pain in your neck, back, or shoulders caused by stress or anxiety. If you are unsure why you are experiencing back or neck pain, then please let our highly trained staff at Thrive Chiropractic help diagnose what may be causing the pain you are experiencing. Once we have figured out the reason for your pain, we can also help set you up with a full-scope treatment plan that is best for your specific needs. We know that pain in the neck and back can often be very life-altering, so let us help get you back on your feet today!