It’s no secret that stress can wreak havoc on our bodies, but did you know that one of the most common places to feel stress in your body is in your neck? Studies show that neck pain is often precipitated by stress or anxiety.
If you’ve ever suffered from neck pain, you know it can be debilitating – it may cause headaches, limit your mobility, and spread into the shoulders and jaw. Luckily, neck pain is often easy to treat with a trip to your chiropractor and some simple home care.
How Does Stress Cause Neck Pain?
How exactly does stress cause neck pain? The simple answer is that stress initiates our fight-or-flight response and in preparation for responding to the perceived threat (or stressor) readies our bodies to, well, fight…or…run.
With this often comes to an increased heart rate and changes to breathing, but it also means that your muscles tense in preparation for what they may need to help you do when faced with that threat (or stressor). If this happens infrequently, it’s often not a big concern, however, if you experience chronic or repeated stress that muscle tension can result in pain and dysfunction – most notably in the neck and shoulder area.
I think we’ve all taken notice of ourselves tensing our shoulders up towards our ears or even clenching your jaw in response to something stressful or anxiety-inducing, it’s those exact actions that can contribute to neck pain when stress is ongoing.
How Your Chiropractor Can Help
Your chiropractor is a great resource for acute pain but is also highly skilled in helping you understand and manage your pain from home. Here are a few ways that a visit to your chiropractor can help you manage your neck pain:
Many chiropractors incorporate stretching into their treatments, but these stretches are often things you can do from home as well. If your chiropractor doesn’t already provide you with homecare and instructions on how to incorporate stretches and exercises into your routine to manage your pain, ask them!
Stretching helps loosen tension in the targeted muscles, helps with strength and flexibility and can ease the pain. If neck pain is a regular occurrence for you, then asking your chiropractor to help you incorporate stretches into your treatment plan and home care may be beneficial.
Relieve Muscle Tension
Chiropractic treatment styles vary, but most treatments involve an adjustment along with trigger point release, stretches or some degree of muscle work. All of these techniques help relieve muscle tension.
When stress is the cause of your neck pain, muscle tension is typically what’s to blame. Having your chiropractor work on your jaw, neck and shoulders can relieve that tension which can sometimes instantaneously improve pain or associated symptoms like headaches. If recurring neck pain is a concern, consider regular appointments with your chiropractor like those at Dahl Family Chiropractic.
Target Areas of Concern
Chiropractic treatment isn’t just for emergencies like acute pain or injury. If you find that you struggle with ongoing or returning pain in certain areas, consider regular maintenance appointments with your chiropractor to address and target those areas of concern.
If you find that you carry your stress or anxiety in your neck and stretching or homecare doesn’t provide the level of relief that you need, your chiropractor can come up with a treatment plan that focuses on your area of concern with the goal of keeping pain at bay. This could mean stretching, exercises, lifestyle adjustments and bi-weekly or monthly appointments to keep on top of your pain and symptoms.
Most chiropractors lead with the goal of educating their patients about their own pain and how they can best manage it. Perhaps your chiropractor was even the first person to point out that your neck pain may be caused by stress!
Learning about your pain and how you can be an active participant in managing it can greatly improve your overall experience of pain, your wellbeing and your quality of life, especially in those with chronic pain conditions.
If stress is contributing to your neck pain, working with your chiropractor can be incredibly beneficial. Your chiropractor will be able to help you form a treatment plan that includes treatments with them along with homecare instructions and resources so that you can play an active role in your pain management.
While your chiropractor is a valuable resource if you know that stress is the cause of your neck pain consider incorporating other complementary interventions to help you better manage your stress and anxiety such as meditation, therapy, massage and exercise.
Read Also: 7 Common Reasons to See a Chiropractor