“I recognize one thing about pain…It knows no color, it knows no religion, it is not prejudice. Pain is just pain.” – Juanita Bynum
We talk quite a bit about stress. One might think that America is little more than an amped-up society buzzing with stress-inducing triggers and environments. A recent Google search for the term “stress management” returned 1,850,000,000 results, for example.
And a recent poll from the American Psychological Association found that a large majority of Americans report high-stress levels due to financial concerns, inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, among other concerns.
Yet, it has been documented and reported for decades that living life in our modern, wired, and media-saturated world creates various levels of ongoing stress for many.
Almost two decades earlier, surveys reported that money and work were the two most common triggers for stress in most Americans. And little has changed since.
Including the pain that stress and anxiety can cause.
The Relationship Between Anxiety, Stress, and Physical Pain
Anyone who has lived life beyond 15 years or so is likely to be familiar with the phenomenon of a stiff or sore neck and shoulders after experiencing a period of anxiety or a stressful time. This could be something as benign as taking a final exam or as distressing as waiting to hear bad news at the hospital.
Several studies have shown that emotional or psychological stress can contribute to chronic physical pain, most often in the neck and shoulders. And this type of chronic pain has been linked to causing irritability, fatigue, and even depression.
And the types of pain and physical ailments triggered by anxiety and stress are numerous.
As one healthcare website notes,
“Anxiety will run tension through the body and impact different muscles. People feel the tightness in other areas, and some will feel it in their neck, jaw, chest, or the stomach. There is no specific area – wherever the brain sends the nerve signals.”
And the causes can be intertwined in more severe cases. According to an article by WebMD, for example,
“The overlap of anxiety, depression, and pain is particularly evident in chronic and sometimes disabling pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, low back pain, headaches, and nerve pain. For example, about two-thirds of patients with irritable bowel syndrome who are referred for follow-up care have symptoms of psychological distress, most often anxiety.”
Not All Stress is Severe, But All Stress Can Cause Pain
Some types of stress can actually be a good thing.
According to U.C. Berkeley, for example, their research shows that moderate, short-lived stress can improve alertness and performance and boost memory.
But what we call ‘anxiety’ is never really healthy for us, certainly not long-term.
Anxiety is a normal response in stressful situations but can trigger negative physical responses. Anxiety is defined as intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Anxiety can cause a fast heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and abnormal tiredness.
The low-level shoulder pain from stress responds well to yoga, stretching, and other relaxation methods. However, when the pain caused by ongoing stress becomes chronic, something more must be done to find relief.
Fortunately, manual therapy techniques such as Active Release Techniques®, or ART®, can be used to treat neck and shoulder muscle pain. Active Release Techniques® is a clinical manual therapy designed to treat muscles, tendons, ligaments, joint tissue, and nerves.
ART® is a movement-based manual therapy used to restore range of motion, break up scar tissue, release other types of muscle adhesions, increase blood flow, and reduce chronic and acute pain.
Finding Relief from the Pain of Low-Level Stress
Even though you may feel that your lifestyle is relatively stress-free and you rarely experience bouts of anxiety, low-level stress can trigger and then aggravate neck and shoulder pain. And left untreated, this can become a chronic pain condition.
The good news is that you can find relief from it.
By making an initial appointment with Pain and Performance Solutions, you can take the first step to experience relief from crippling neck and shoulder pain. And the first thing we will do on that journey is to sit down with you and learn about your present discomfort as well as your history of pain.
After completing a full examination, we can determine the best treatment form and start you along your road to recovery.
Like many other types of pain, the source of shoulder and neck pain can often be challenging to identify.
Fortunately, there are techniques we can utilize that make it possible to accurately locate and identify the true source of your pain and apply the best therapies for bringing relief.
However, attaining chronic pain relief with therapies such as Active Release Techniques® can only begin when we can understand where your pain started. That could mean it started previously with another injury you might have sustained.
When it comes to finding pain relief with Pain and Performance Solutions, your trust in us and your transparency is key. Getting your body to work properly and healthy is the only way to achieve total recovery. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any and all questions that you may have.