There are some fairly straightforward ways to get rid of neck pain caused by stress or anxiety. The causes of physical pain are usually obvious, such as a whiplash injury or some other sudden movement that can strain your neck muscles. However, it is not only physical issues that can lead to neck pain but also emotional ones. Stress and anxiety are common factors involved in headaches, but they can also lead to stress-related neck pain.
Before we start: It should be noted that all information and guidance offered here should not be regarded as a substitute for the advice provided by professional doctors or chiropractors. If you have a medical condition we advise you to consult a qualified medical practitioner. The advice we provide here is for information and guidance only.
Causes of Psychological or Emotional Stress
Not all neck pain is physical or emotional: some can be a combination of both. Sometimes your pain starts off from physical damage, such as strain in your neck muscles through injury. Rather than slowly subsiding, however, the pain can continue for a protracted period of time for some reason. Your injury heals, but you still feel pain. Why?
The same is true if you have poor posture, very common with young people today. Your head and shoulders can droop forward when you walk, in other words, slouch. Ultimately this can lead to neck pain which never seems to get better. Why?
Stress-Related Neck Pain
Stress! That’s why. Studies have indicated that in such cases there is little or no correlation between the activity of your neck muscles and the level of pain you experience. What they show is that prolonged neck and shoulder pain bears more relation to tension or stress than to physical issues. This in no way infers that your pain may be only ‘in your head’ – that’s a dangerous generalization to make. The pain of stress-related neck pain is very real and can be very debilitating.
When you are under stress or are feeling anxious your body can tense up. This can lead to a strain on the nerves and muscles in your neck and shoulders, particularly those serving the cervical vertebrae (your neck). This can significantly harm your body if allowed to continue without treatment. It is important to consider using the neck pain remedies available before this pain becomes long term, ultimately becoming chronic.
How to Get Rid of Neck Pain Caused by Stress and Anxiety
One cause of neck pain could be your sleeping position or pillow. Rather than dwell too much on this here, you can check out our post on how to ease neck pain from sleeping. However, that may not be the cause of your pain, and the following reasons for it are just as likely to be the cause, if not more likely.
In order to avoid chronic neck pain, which is very difficult to treat, it is recommended by physicians and physical therapists that you employ strategies that include changing your diet, modifying your posture and actively trying to cope with the emotions that lead to your stress initially. However, before doing that, try out the following ways of how to cure neck pain caused by stress and anxiety.
1. Stretch Your Neck Muscles
Neck pain can take the form of acute sharp pain to an annoying low level continual dull ache that can drive you mad by bedtime. There are stretching exercises you can try in order to strengthen your neck and reduce the pain. Before trying thee you should first consult a medical professional, physician or chiropractor. They may be able to help you, particularly with a recommended form of exercise. Muscle pain may or may not be reduced by strengthening your neck muscles.
To do this, moving your head only, pull it back as far as you can – hold for 5 seconds then return to the straight position. Then bend your head forwards as far as you can, again keeping the rest of your body straight and hold for 5 seconds. Do the same by bending your neck to your right side and left side as far as you can with each, holding each for 5 seconds.
Next, rotate your head with your neck straight. Do to the right as far as you can and hold, then to the left and hold – each hold for 5 seconds. If your neck feels particularly stiff, then stop after the six exercises (back, forwards, right and left bends and left and right rotations). Repeat after a few hours or even the next day. After a while, you will find it easier and your neck loosens up. You can then hold your position for 10 seconds, not 5, and carry out multiple repetitions.
2. Meditation and Yoga
Meditation is another good way of relaxing tight or stressed neck muscles. You can find meditation videos on YouTube that guide you through the process. If you feel this may help you, then there may be meditation classes in your vicinity that you can attend. Meditation can calm your thoughts and relax your neck muscles. Yoga is another activity that can help heal neck pain caused by stress and anxiety.
3. Aerobic Exercise
Exercise is important for your general fitness of body and mind. Aerobic exercise, in particular, can help to reduce back and neck pain. Examples of this type of exercise are walking, faster than you would normally, an exercise bike and swimming. Aerobic classes are also good for you.
It is important that your exercise is aerobic, meaning it involves breathing and the use of oxygen to create energy. Anaerobic exercise, such as sprinting and weightlifting, gets you out of breath very quickly and is not as effective at releasing tension and reducing neck pain.
Aerobic exercise also releases hormones known as endorphins which activate your body’s opiate receptors in the brain. The result is a reduction in your breathing rate, antidepressant effects, and general pain reduction and a calming effect. Overall, aerobic exercise can make you feel better within yourself and reduce your level of neck pain – perhaps even eliminate it.
4. Support Groups and Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy and even support groups can help reduce stress and reduce neck pain. Help from friends and family might also help, particularly by helping with the children when your pain becomes extreme. Knowing that people are on hand to help you when things get over-stressful for you is often enough to reduce your overall stress levels, and with it your neck pain.
5. Cut Back on the Stimulants Before Bedtime
Try not to smoke cigarettes just before bed. Nicotine is a stimulant that increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result is even more stress. You might feel that a cigarette calms you, but it doesn’t. It can cause stress-related neck pain rather than relieve it. Drinking tea or coffee before bed can also lead to stress-related neck pain. The caffeine in tea and coffee can lead to tension in your nervous system – leading to stress-related neck pain!
Massage can be very relaxing and reduce your overall stress levels. However, it can do more than that: massage can loosen up your upper back, shoulder and neck muscles to ease their tightness and make you feel much more relaxed. This, in turn, can reduce back pain and also stress-related neck pain.
7. Refer to Your Doctor/Physician
If you have tried the above remedies for neck pain caused by stress and anxiety and can feel no benefits after a week or two, then this is the time to seek the advice of a medical practitioner: doctor, physician, chiropractor or orthopedist.
8. Your Pillow May Be Causing Your Neck Pain
While all of the above is true, we have not yet mentioned another common cause of neck pain. This is not stress related, but its solution can be relatively simple in many cases. The way you sleep may be the cause. You may be sleeping on the wrong pillow or the wrong mattress, and a change of either may help reduce or even eliminate your neck pain.
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Get Rid of Neck Pain
Here are some of the questions we have been asked regarding how to get rid of neck pain caused by stress and anxiety. We must stress that you should refer to a physician or chiropractor if you have neck pain for whatever reason. The information on this website is for guidance only and is not medically qualified.
1. How do I know that my neck pain is caused by stress or anxiety?
There are many causes of neck pain other than just stress and anxiety. If you have had a recent injury, then our advice will not apply. However, if you have things on your mind, or have worries about anything, then that can tense up your neck muscles. If your neck muscles are tensed up for too long, particularly in bed, then you can wake up with moderate to severe neck pain.
2. Can acupuncture be used to relieve neck pain caused by stress or anxiety? I know it can be used to help reduce tension in the neck but is it effective?
A 2008 study on the effect of acupuncture on TNS (Tension Neck Stress) showed that acupuncture may “facilitate and/or enhance physiotherapy performance in musculoskeletal rehabilitation for tension neck syndrome.” While more research may be needed, it looks possible that you could use acupuncture to help cure your condition.
3. Can massage help relieve the neck pain I feel every morning?
Yes, it may do so, but is not guaranteed to help. It’s far better to root out the cause of your neck pain, particularly if you wake up with it almost every morning. If you know the cause, then it’s much easier to find a cure that tackles the cause rather than the symptom (the pain).
4. What are the best exercises to relieve neck pain?
We advise you to check out the Runtastic website for more information on this. If your neck pain is stress related then the advice on that site is well worth following. Not all neck pain, however, is related to stress or anxiety. We advise you to first to consult your doctor and explain your condition. A chiropractor might help, although sometimes it’s best to listen to others who have succeeded in managing their pain. Another good website to visit for information and help is healthline.com.
5. Do you recommend any particular pillow for neck pain? I have tried a few but none helped.
Check out our concluding paragraph below. We have reviewed a number of pillows you can use for neck pain, and include a link to our best 8 below. It is very important to try to understand what is bothering you to lead to neck pain caused by stress or anxiety. Why are you stressed out, and what is making you so anxious that it is causing you neck pain during the night? Establish that, tackle the issue and you may solve your problem yourself.
Neck Pain Caused by Stress and Anxiety: Conclusion
Neck pain can be caused by stress and anxiety. It can be cured by tackling the causes of that stress and anxiety. However, if this is not working, then changing your pillow may help. Check out our best pillows for neck pain reviews where we discuss our top 10 choices for pillows that we have chosen for their ability to help reduce or even eliminate your neck pain. They really work, but check them out and choose the one you feel best suited to you. This is a good way how to get rid of neck pain. You will usually get a sleep trial period, so, if one doesn’t work for you, try another.