Stress. Anxiety. Low moral support. All of these and other psychosocial factors have been linked as potential causes of neck pain. 1 Halderman S, Carroll L, Cassidy DJ, Schubert J, Nygren A. The Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders. Eur Spine J. 2008; 17(Suppl 1): 5. doi: 10.1007/s00586-008-0619-8. , 2 Kim R, Wiest C, Clark K, Cook C, Horn M. Identifying risk factors for first-episode neck pain: A systematic review. Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2018 Feb; 33: 77-83. doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2017.11.007. When tension and stress build in the neck, muscles may feel tight or achy. Neck pain may also spread to the shoulder or be accompanied by a headache. Let’s explore some ways to reduce this type of neck pain.
7 tips to tackle stress-related neck pain
By focusing on ways to treat both the mind and the body, you can help lessen stress and the toll it can take on you. Try these methods to manage stress-related neck pain:
Neck stretchesIf done regularly, stretching exercises for the neck can loosen muscle tightness and maintain or expand range of motion for the neck. Try these 2 stretches to get started.
See Neck Stretches
Therapy or support groupCognitive behavioral therapy has proven benefits for helping to develop healthy thought patterns, but even a support group or online forum where you can share your concerns and receive support can help you manage day-to-day stressors.
Visit our Back and Neck Pain Support Group to find online support.
MeditationPracticing meditation is a good way to calm your thoughts and anxieties. Look for a guided meditation video on YouTube or attend a class to learn how.
Enlisting help from family and friendsYou don’t have to tackle stress alone; let your family and friends help carry the load. Be clear about ways they can help you—ask if a friend can run an errand for you, or assign your children extra chores around the house during stressful periods.
MassageMassage is not only relaxing and stress-relieving overall, but it can specifically ease the tightness of the muscles of the neck and shoulders.
ExerciseExercise is good for your body and mind. It releases endorphins, a hormone that dulls pain and generates feelings of well-being.
PrioritizingYou’re not a superhero—let inconsequential things go if they’re taking a toll on your health. Focus on what’s most important and don’t worry if things further down the priority list get delayed or left undone for a while.
If your stress-induced neck pain is not relieved by a week or two of self-care, see your doctor. He or she can offer other treatment options and diagnose possible underlying conditions.
- 1 Halderman S, Carroll L, Cassidy DJ, Schubert J, Nygren A. The Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders. Eur Spine J. 2008; 17(Suppl 1): 5. doi: 10.1007/s00586-008-0619-8.
- 2 Kim R, Wiest C, Clark K, Cook C, Horn M. Identifying risk factors for first-episode neck pain: A systematic review. Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2018 Feb; 33: 77-83. doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2017.11.007.