The stress response is a combination of physical and emotional factors that increase your body’s ability to run or fight when in danger. When the brain is stimulated, the body releases cortisol, adrenaline and other hormones that prepare your body for action. Body changes include high heart rate, increased blood pressure, rapid breathing and tired muscles. When this happens frequently, it can cause pain, soreness and irritated nerves.
Learning how to achieve balance in our lives can be a daunting task. When you are expected to run a household, manage social activities, and carry a full load at work can leave you feeling overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. We live in a world where we are expected to be all the time but increased levels of stress, day by day, can have a detrimental effect on the body, eventually leading to muscle tension in the neck and shoulders, among other things.
It is normal to have a small amount of stress throughout your day, but problems start to occur when you are experiencing stress on a firm basis. This can be chronic physical stress from standing up all day or making long-term workouts. Or, stress may be caused by emotional problems such as relationship, financial, or health concerns. When stress is experienced it often begins to manifest itself through pain, soreness, and irritated nerves. So this response to the challenges of everyday life ends up causing chronic tension on the shoulders.
Holding the shoulders in this elevated position causes the neck muscles and shoulder to shorten and compress. The muscles are mainly located at the tendons where they connect to the area of the bone behind the skull called the occiput. The associated discomfort, aching shoulders and sore neck, will be recognized by most of us. Depression and ‘chest breathing’ associated with stress exacerbate the condition as the compression band around the chest grows. Under normal circumstances after the problem is resolved, tension in the muscles disappears quickly.
How does stress cause shoulder pain
There are many side effects stress can give, and the two most common are muscle tension and muscle pain. Stress is the body’s response to a visible challenge that needs response. It can be positive, keep you awake and ready to take action, or negative, put you in a tense situation. When it is negative, the tension associated with stress increases, and the “fighting or flight response” naturally is activated for a long time.
The result is different physical and emotional symptoms. Symptoms include generalized pain and soreness, grinding of teeth, headache, and muscle tension in the face, neck, or shoulders, to name a few. It can also cause back muscles to contract. A little stress is positive but a lot of stress if the mind or body can weaken your health. When you are stressed your muscles become stiff because of inactivity. This tightness causes muscle pain and discomfort.
A depressed person goes through a period of inactivity, becomes unhealthy and has a sleep cycle that causes muscle spasms. As a result, it binds itself and causes pain. Interestingly, although stress and thin muscles can cause headaches, recent research suggests that headaches can be caused or at least exacerbated by taking painkillers over time. Some people are trapped in a “bad cycle” of taking painkillers, which causes even more headaches.
How Stress Increases Shoulder Pain
Stress is not always the cause of shoulder pain, but it can actually make even the smallest existing pain worse. This is how it affects your shoulders.
- It develops blood vessels in your large muscle groups to allow rapid oxygen delivery
- Causes bending and tightening muscles in the neck, jaw and shoulders
- Increases tension in the trapezius muscles that run over the back
- It prevents movement of the neck and shoulder
- It enhances your perception of pain and makes existing pain feel worse
When you experience mental or physical stress from time to time, your body is ready for battle all the time but it is never allowed to release that tension. This eventually irritates your muscles and nerves, causing pain that can be difficult to manage because it is difficult to identify or remove your triggers.
ways in which stress causes shoulder pain
Stress forms a vicious circle; The last thing is psychological, but it is important. Stress creates an increased awareness of pain so if you carry a shoulder wound, it can cause you to focus more on the symptoms of pain in that area. This too can add stress. So a kind of disruptive feedback loop is created. Sometimes I look at this in shoulder patients after surgery. Stress can make them have an elevated view of their pain; and in some cases that elevated view may lead them to change, or to break their own regime of rehabilitation.
Stress increases tension; Obviously, but stress seems to do something to our muscles. Science here is hard to mock, but especially when we are stressed we push ourselves probably because of the ‘running or fighting’ response that makes our body protect itself from physical danger. For a while this tension can feel very anxious, perhaps even painful. Physically, it can also cause knocking effects around the body.
Stress can lead to inactivity; When we are stressed, we tend to stop looking at ourselves very well. Trips to the gym suddenly fall along the way. Our eating regime is deteriorating. We stop going for walks that were part of our lunch routine. From a physical point of view, these types of drops in activity can have a profound effect. Increased body weight. The joints become stiff.
Treatment of does stress cause shoulder pain
One of the best ways to cope with shoulder pain and frustration is to stretch and relax regularly. Here are a few good habits to incorporate into your daily routine.
1. Physical therapy
There is a lot of evidence to support the effectiveness of physical therapy when it comes to reducing shoulder pain and slowing down. Physical treatment options for shoulder pain include manual therapy, joint mobilization, medical exercise, stretching, ultrasound treatment, laser therapy, and methods such as electrical stimulation, heat or ice.
Physical therapy can be a safe and effective option for controlling the effects of severe stress. If your depressed shoulder lasts for more than a few weeks, call us or ask for an appointment to discuss possible treatment options.
2. Healthy habits
Although we will not be able to completely remove stress from our lives altogether, there are good habits, as well as shoulder exercises, that we can incorporate daily to help reduce the levels of emotional stress.
- Eat a balanced diet
- Aim for 30 minutes of average exercise at least 5 days a week
- Limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and sugar
- Get enough sleep every night
- Avoid smoking and drugs
- Think positively and surround yourself with good people
Massage, yoga, and cuff therapy are all great ways to improve body posture and reduce unnecessary shoulder tension. In addition, we would recommend doing a few stretches to see if you can get your shoulder muscles to relax a bit. Here are some simple, yet invaluable passages you can incorporate throughout your day.
- Neck exercises; Lower your chin to the chest for 15 seconds and gently let the weight of your head form a stretch through your upper back. Next, slowly lower your head to the right for 15 seconds, then to the left for 15 seconds.
- Shoulder to ear; Sit with the back straight and gently with your head towards your left shoulder. You can go a little deeper into the stretch while gently pulling your head away a little from your right hand, until you feel a gentle pull. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Shoulder rolls; When sitting or standing, maintain good posture and move your shoulders up, back, then down. Repeat this circle 10 times. Then do the opposite and move your shoulders up, forward, then down. Repeat 10 times.
- Shoulder raises; When standing or sitting, place your hands down beside you, straighten your back, and then slowly raise your shoulders toward your ears. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower your shoulders down. Repeat this step 5 times.
If you are healthy, you can handle stress better. So eating a healthy diet is a good protection against stress. Try to make your meal time calm and relax. But keep in mind that it is not a good idea to reduce stress by overeating. It is not healthy to turn to food to comfort yourself when you are suffering.
Mindfulness helps to relax the muscles of the neck and shoulder and relieves pain. Keep quiet and your eyes are closed for 5-10 minutes and listen to the meditation directed or just let your mind be calm. It can take exercise, but meditating 10-20 minutes each day relieves chronic stress and helps you stay relaxed during stressful situations.
Getting mental rest can also help relax your neck and shoulder muscles. Keep quiet and your eyes closed for 5-10 minutes. Try listening to guided meditation or just letting your mind be quiet. It can take exercise, but try to make your way to meditation for 10-20 minutes each day to help reduce the levels of chronic stress.
5. Move your body
This may feel like the opposite of relaxation, but aerobic exercises like jumping jacks or hand circles will engage the muscles in your shoulders to increase blood supply, stretch muscles and release toxins. Cardio and aerobic exercises can engage the muscles in your neck and shoulders which will increase blood supply, stretch muscles, and release toxins.
If your stress induced pain lasts more than a few weeks, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Sometimes the effects of major depression can be managed with medication, psychological counseling or physical therapy.