Can stress cause neck pain? 7 tips to get relief

Stress affects the whole body in many ways, from mood swings to headaches. If you are looking for ways to calm neck pain from stress, here are 7 tips for you.
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Neck pain can cause a lot of discomfort! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Aayushi Gupta Updated: 1 Mar 2024, 14:06 pm IST
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You must have heard that your body can hold tension in several body parts, especially in your neck and shoulder muscles, which may even lead to pain. Neck pain often stems from chronic stress and tension. The more stressed you are, the more tension your muscles will hold, which can exacerbate pain and discomfort. So the next time your neck hurts, do not blame your poor posture but check out if you’re under stress or not. If stress is indeed the culprit, here are some tips to reduce neck pain from stress.

Can stress cause neck pain?

Yes, stress can cause neck pain. When we experience stress, our muscles tense up as part of the body’s fight-or-flight response. “This tension often gets accumulating in the neck and shoulders, leading to stiffness and discomfort. Prolonged stress can exacerbate this tension, leading to chronic neck pain,” explains Pain Physician Dr Vivek Loomba. Stress can also lead to bad posture and habits such as hunching over or tensing the shoulders, which can further aggravate the neck pain.

Moreover, stress can also indirectly contribute to neck pain by affecting sleep quality. Poor sleep due to stress can result in muscle tension and decreased pain tolerance, making existing neck pain feel more intense.

How to manage neck pain caused by stress?

If you’ve been looking for ways to manage neck pain caused by stress, here are some ways that can help you:

1. Maintain proper body posture

Poor posture, especially when sitting for extended periods of time, can exacerbate neck pain. “Maintain proper posture by sitting straight, keeping your shoulders relaxed, and ensuring that your computer monitor is at eye level,” advises Dr Loomba. This will reduce muscle strain by keeping your bones and joints aligned.

2. Take breaks and stretch

Prolonged periods of sitting or repetitive movements can contribute to muscle tension and neck pain. Take regular breaks throughout the day to stand up, stretch, and move around. Incorporating simple neck stretches into your routine can help relieve tension and prevent stiffness.

ease neck pain
No more pain in the neck! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Avoid lifting weights

If you are suffering from neck and shoulder pain, it is advisable to stop lifting weights at home or in the gym and performing vigorous activities. Doing so can strain your neck and shoulder, exacerbating the pain.

4. Use a supportive pillow

The type of pillow you use can significantly impact neck pain caused by stress, especially when you sleep. Choose a supportive pillow that maintains proper alignment of the head and neck while sleeping. Memory foam or contoured pillows can help provide adequate support and relieve pressure points, reducing the likelihood of waking up with neck pain.

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5. Physiotherapy

This is among the most effective ways of treating persistent neck pain. Physiotherapy involves exercise, massage, and heat therapy, which help relieve pain by relaxing the muscles and speeding up recovery.

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6. Use heat or cold therapy

“Heat or cold therapy can help alleviate muscle tension and reduce inflammation associated with neck pain,” says Dr Loomba. Use a heating pad, warm compress, or hot water bottle to apply heat to the neck and shoulders for 15-20 minutes at a time. Alternatively, try using a cold pack or ice pack wrapped in a cloth for short intervals to numb the area and reduce swelling. Consult with your doctor about whether to use a heating pad or a cold pad.

heating pad
A heating pad can relieve neck pain. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

7. Manage stress

Stress management techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or muscle relaxation activities can help reduce overall stress levels. By incorporating these practices into your daily routine, you can alleviate the physical tension contributing to neck pain.

By following these tips, you can manage your neck pain caused by stress! If you find it difficult to deal with stress, speak about it with your loved ones or a mental health expert who can guide you in the right direction.

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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