Have you ever considered how back and neck pain could be stress related? April is National Stress Awareness Month, a reminder to recognize the effect of stress on our bodies.
Stress can cause back and neck pain due to its physical and psychological effects on the body. Here are a few ways that stress can contribute to these types of pain:
- Muscle tension: When stressed, our body releases stress hormones like cortisol, which can cause muscles to tighten up. This tension can lead to pain and stiffness in the back and neck.
- Poor posture: When stressed, we may be more likely to hunch over or slouch, which can strain our back and neck muscles.
- Reduced blood flow: Stress can also cause our blood vessels to constrict, which can reduce blood flow to our muscles and tissues. Without proper blood flow, muscles can become stiff and sore.
- Increased inflammation: Chronic stress can lead to increased inflammation throughout the body, including in the muscles and joints of the back and neck. This inflammation can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness.
- Decreased pain tolerance: Stress can lower your pain threshold, making you more sensitive to pain in general, including in your back and neck.
Stress can contribute to both physical and psychological back and neck pain. By managing stress through techniques like exercise, stretching and meditation, you can reduce stress related flare ups.
Chronic pain can lead to other health problems if left untreated, such as decreased mobility, decreased quality of life, and depression. Seek medical attention for chronic neck and back pain for better health and quality of life.
AUTHOR: Dr. Payam Moazzaz is a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon in California specializing in robotic-assisted minimally invasive spine surgery.