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Can Anxiety Cause Neck Pain

Demographic Characteristics Of The Study Sample

Body Reflex Hacking: Can Stress Cause Neck Pain?

Forty-four percent of study participants were 50 years old or older. Almost 80% of the study participants were female. About one third had basic education and an equal proportion was unemployed or retired. Most of the participants lived with others in the same household . Of the 448 patients included in the analysis, 56% reported to have neck pain on the day of questionnaire completion, whereas only a quarter of the population had constant neck pain during the last year. According to the HADS depression subscale 20% of participants were classified as having depressive mood, and 28% reported to be anxious. In 15% we detected deficits in social support. Almost 20% reported to have had a previous injury of the cervical spine. The majority was physically active at least once per week .

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

Possible Reasons For Interscapular Pain

If you are feeling pain between your shoulder blades youre likely a little worried. What could that kind of pain be coming from? Could it be something serious that could be an emergency?

Pain between the shoulder blades, otherwise known as interscapular pain, can have many causes. While this symptom is commonly caused by something as minor as a muscle strain, its important to be aware that it may also be a sign of something more serious, sometimes something as serious as a heart attack or lung cancer.

Pain is your bodys way of letting you know that something is wrong, but its sometimes hard to know if that something is only a nuisance or something that needs urgent attention. One way or the other, however, its important to find a reason for whats troubling you.

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Stress Creates A Vicious Circle

The final point is a psychological one, but its important. Stress creates a heightened awareness of pain so if youre carrying a shoulder injury, it may cause you to focus greater attention on the painful symptoms in that area. This in turn can heighten stress. So a kind of feedback loop of discomfort is created. I sometimes observe this in shoulder patients after surgery. Stress can cause them to have a heightened perception of their pain and in some cases that heightened perception may lead them to change, or to break off, their rehabilitation regime. This isnt always ideal, since it can lengthen the recovery process when it might be better to relax and persist with the exercises.

So if you are experiencing stress, what should you do? The first answer is to examine the roots of your stress. And the first way to do that is to talk. For anxiety, that might mean confiding in a friend or seeking professional help through your GP or a counsellor. For stress thats causing obvious physical problems in the shoulder and neck area, you might choose to speak to a physiotherapist. They will be able to help you unpack the issues: how things should be working, where the pressure points are, what kinds of exercises you could take up to alleviate the problems. Or of course you could book in with us for a check-up. I am always happy to analyse the issue, talk through the options and advise on the next steps.

Repetitive Strain Injury Of The Shoulder

Can Stress Cause Shoulder Pain?

Repetitive strain injury of the shoulder is caused by consistent repetitive use.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: shoulder pain from overuse, shoulder weakness, shoulder numbness

Symptoms that always occur with repetitive strain injury of the shoulder : shoulder pain from overuse

Symptoms that never occur with repetitive strain injury of the shoulder : severe shoulder pain, shoulder injury

Urgency: Self-treatment

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How Stress Can Aggravate Neck Pain

Weve 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.

The Science Of Blowing Off Steam: Why Exercising Is Helpful For Stress

Exercising for stress control is an option that isnt fully satisfying to many people, and often awkward for people in pain. But its still one of the most accessible and effective options, and it is firmly grounded in biology and science. Exercise is startlingly good medicine.52 Anything that can ward off dementia53 or actually help your brain recover from injury54 is probably neurologically relevant to any mood disorder as well. Which is certainly what the data suggests so far.55

But theres a more specific and fascinating reason that exercise is helpful for anxiety, which is well worth understanding:

Exercise simulates what stress is trying to prepare us for. More exactly, exercise simulates a reaction to a stressful emergency which then also triggers the relaxation and recovery mode that follows. Robert Sapolsky:

The stress-response is about preparing your body for an explosive burst of energy consumption right now psychological stress is about doing all the same things to your body for no physical reason whatsoever. Exercise finally provides your body with the outlet that it was preparing for.

Why Zebras Dont Get Ulcers, by Robert M Sapolsky, 255

This is why exercise is an effective outlet for frustration, which is well-known to measurably reduce the stress-response.

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Nerve Compression Or Damage

A seated, rounded posture can also lead to compression of the cervical spine , leading to pain between the shoulder blades, Louw says.

Louw mentions that another possible cause of shoulder blade pain is thoracic outlet syndrome. This group of conditions results from compression on the blood vessels and nerves in the lower neck and upper chest. It can cause pain and weakness in the shoulder and tingling or pain in the fingers. Theres debate about what exactly causes this syndrome, which can be misdiagnosed because the symptoms look similar to rotator cuff injuries or other conditions.

Physical therapy can help treat the issue by guiding you in strengthening your chest and improving your posture.

Another nerve-related issue that can lead to pain is scapular winging, a condition in which one or more of the shoulder blades sticks out rather than laying flat against the body. But Dr. Baxi notes that its not very common.

Can Anxiety Lead To Stress Knots In Neck Or Upper Back Areas

Linden Method Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain, Throat Pain During Anxiety and Panic Attacks

By: Corrina Horne

Anxiety has demonstrable physical effects. The most common physical symptoms of stress include elevated heart and respiratory rates, but there are actually countless physical symptoms of anxiety, ranging from clenched teeth and headaches, to unexplained dizziness or nausea. While anxiety might at first seem primarily like a mental or emotional condition, it possesses physiological consequences that extend far beyond the initial buzz of anxiety.

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Other Causes Of Dizziness

In some cases, neck pain and dizziness may occur independently of each other or not originate in the neck.

  • Stress and anxiety. Some less common symptoms of anxiety include pain or discomfort in the neck, and dizziness or light-headedness.
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo . This condition is the most common form of vertigo, which is a false sense of spinning. BPPV occurs when calcium carbonate crystals disrupt fluid within the inner ear, sending inaccurate positional signals to the brain. BPPV is typically not serious and goes away relatively quickly.
  • Menieres disease. This inner ear disorder has no known cause and can include various symptoms that come and go, such as dizziness, distorted hearing, tinnitus , or a feeling of pressure inside the ear.

Numerous other factors can cause dizziness, such as an illness or low blood pressure. Dizziness is also a common side effect of some medications.

Controlling Neck Pain From Anxiety

When muscle tension is brought on by anxiety, consider doing the following:

Hot bath or hot shower: Ease tense muscles in a hot bath or hot shower. It is best to make the hot bath longer to warm up your neck muscles. Heat causes your muscles to relax.

Exercise: Exercises can improve muscle tension.

Massage: Although you can do a self-massage, asking another one to massage your muscles can greatly help release tension and stress in your body that causes this type of neck pain.

These approaches reduce the effects of muscle tension in your body. Aside from that, you should also make sure that you are always aware of your posture.

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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 To Adjust Your Posture

Can Anxiety Cause Neck Pain?

For starters, sit actively, not passively, says Louw. By sitting forward on your seat and staying upright, youll avoid relaxing into a poor posture. Make sure youre sitting on your two butt bones and are actively using your core to sit up straight, chest tall, with shoulders rolled down and back, away from your ears. Also, keep your head over your shoulders, not in front of them, Louw says.

Improving your work setup to make it more ergonomic will also help adjust your posture. According to Dr. Baxi, your computer screen should be at eye level and your keyboard close enough that you dont have to reach for it. Your elbows should flex about 120 degrees.

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In This Video A Demonstration Of A Prolotherapy Treatment Is Given

Prolotherapy is referred to as a regenerative injection technique because it is based on the premise that the regenerative healing process can rebuild and repair damaged soft tissue structures. It is a simple injection treatment that addresses very complex issues.

This video jumps to 1:05 where the actual treatment begins.

This patient is having C1-C2 areas treated. Ross Hauser, MD, is giving the injections.

Can A Psychologist Help You Think Your Way Out Of Anxiety The State Of The Evidence About Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Anxiety

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a dominant force in psychotherapy and the most common treatment approach for anxiety. Its how most psychologists will try to help you think your way out. And behave your way out.

CBT is widely considered to be a proven therapy for anxiety, and some specific types have firm foundations.15 It seems to work fairly well in a primary care setting,16 and it seems to be great for kids.17 But the benefits compared to placebo are underwhelming, and a technically positive 2018 review showed results that were less than impressive, and concluded that better treatments are needed.18 The benefits are especially less clear for older adults,19 and its definitely underwhelming when theres pain and strange symptoms involved.20 In other words, CBT may be the least effective when it matters the most: when anxiety is driving the most disturbing symptoms.

Overall Id call the evidence for CBT as a treatment for anxiety promising, but far from settled science or remotely proven. Not so much as a treatment for pain itself.21 For more about that, see Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Chronic Pain. As an excellent example of the deep, scary complexity, theres fascinating evidence that CBT may fail to treat chronic pain in some people because they are too inflamed not because the inflammation is directly painful, but because the inflammation modifies mental state and behaviour and that makes the pain harder to treat.22 Thats a deep rabbit hole there.

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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.

Chest Pains And Other Panic Symptoms

What Causes Neck Pain? | Neck Pain Due To Stress

Not all aches and pains are in your muscles either. Some anxiety disorders can cause other symptoms, like chest pains, a painful tingling in the hands and feet, and more. These are often the result of hyperventilation, which occurs during panic attacks and severe anxiety.


Headaches are tricky. Most anxiety headaches are actually just a form of tension, known as a “tension headache.” Your muscles tense up, and your head experiences pain as a result. But anxiety is also known to cause migraines, and migraines can lead to immense discomfort around your head, as well as symptoms that may create more anxiety.


Another thing to keep in mind with anxiety is that not all aches and pains are caused by anxiety. Every day you experience very small discomforts all over your body for many reasons. Someone who is anxiety-free may be able to ignore them and find that they quickly go away.

But those with anxiety tend to suffer from what’s known as “hypersensitivity.” Hypersensitivity is when you become too attuned to the way your body feels, to the point where you notice nearly every physical sensation in your body. When you pay that much attention to those sensations, your mind has a tendency to amplify them, and that makes them more likely to cause more pain than they would have naturally done.

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