The neck has a very important job, its muscles run from the base of the skull to the upper back and work together to bend and move the head. They also assist in breathing. Although the primary function of the neck is head movement, muscles in this area also participate in the maintenance of blood flow to the brain and other functions.
It’s not uncommon for people to experience pain due to all sorts of reasons including stress and anxiety. Throughout this post, you’re going to learn how to get rid of neck pain that is caused by anxiety and unmanaged stress.
How Does Stress and Anxiety Cause Neck Pain?
Before we discuss different ways to manage neck pain induced by stress and anxiety, you’re probably wondering how they can cause this discomfort in the first place. A large review from the November 2016 issue of the Journal of Psychosomatic Research analyzed 28 studies with 39,166 participants and found a strong relationship between stress and chronic nonspecific neck-arm pain.
While more research is necessary to elucidate the connection between stress and neck pain, it could be down to the muscle tension itself. During periods of intense stress and anxiety, the muscles in your neck become tense. This muscle tension is particularly expressed in the neck, shoulder, and back area. The bigger the stress, the more tension and it eventually leads to pain and discomfort.
Top Stress-Related Neck Pain Remedies
Now that you know the underlying mechanisms associated with neck pain and stress, let’s proceed to find out how you can manage it.
- Get a Massage
Massage is one of the best ways to alleviate stress and anxiety, but also to decrease the intensity of pain in your neck. Allowing someone to give you a nice massage relieves strain, exhibits relaxing effects, and it allows you to move your head without feeling discomfort. Benefits of massage for neck pain are scientifically proven. A study from the Clinical Journal of Pain found that subjects from the massage group experienced improvements on the neck disability index and on the symptom bothersomeness scale after 10 weeks. Scientists concluded that massage is a safe and effective way of alleviating neck pain.
- Neck Stretching
The link that connects neck pain and stress is tension in this area, so the key is to find a way to alleviate this tension. This is where neck stretching exercises step in. A growing body of evidence confirms that a regular stretching exercise program can decrease neck and shoulder pain, improve neck function and quality of life in people with chronic pain in these areas. When performed on a regular basis, stretching exercises for the neck can loosen muscle tightness and maintain or expand the range of motion for the neck. The internet is a great source of neck stretches, but you can also consult a personal trainer.
Meditation is an ancient practice known for the amazing potential to help people manage stress. You need to sit properly, without hunching or slouching, take deep breaths and focus on them while letting go and avoiding thinking about problems or anything else. The whole process allows you to free your mind and soul, it makes you feel better. A little-known fact is that meditation can help manage neck pain as well.
A study from the Journal of Pain found that meditation is an effective treatment for reducing chronic neck pain and not only does it produce relief, but allows you to cope with pain more effectively. Plus, meditation alleviates psychological distress and you already know mental health and neck pain are connected.
- Quit Smoking
You’re probably wondering what smoking has got to do with stress and neck pain and the answer would be – a lot. You see, evidence shows that smoking can aggravate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Since your mental health is linked to neck pain, it’s obvious this unhealthy habit has an indirect contribution to pain and discomfort in this area.
Lately, some studies have been pointing to a more direct link between smoking and neck pain too. One research found that smoking is a risk factor for chronic neck pain because it worsens degenerative disc disease in the cervical spine. Get rid of neck pain and decrease the risk of many other, potentially dangerous diseases, by firmly deciding to quit smoking.
- Exercise Regularly
If you want to de-stress and alleviate neck pain at the same time it’s a wise idea to incorporate regular physical activity into your lifestyle. No, this doesn’t only refer to neck stretches, but proper workout routine. Exercise releases endorphins which dull pain and make you feel good. Some studies show that women who engaged in strength training experienced improvements in pain, flexibility, and discomfort unlike those who didn’t exercise. The choice of exercises depends on you. Start by low-impact activities so you don’t put pressure on your neck, then gradually challenge yourself.
Our Final Thoughts
Stress and anxiety are strongly connected to neck pain which explains why millions of people complain about the pain and discomfort in the cervical spine. This post presented five amazing ways you can relax and get rid of neck pain at the same time. Now you just need to incorporate these strategies into your lifestyle.
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