Can Stress Cause Shoulder Pain
When we experience high levels of anxiety or stress, our bodys natural reaction is to tense up. When this happens consistently over a long period of time it can lead to muscle tension, which can cause stiffness, aching, and pain in your neck and shoulders. Stress-related pain in this region is typically the result of emotional or mental anxiety which can directly affect the muscles and nerves that run through your shoulders, neck, and spine.
Aside from stress, other issues that lead to sore shoulders are overuse, poor posture, long periods of sitting, incorrect or poor sleeping positions, and of course, injuries.
How Does Stress Cause Neck And Shoulder Pain
Before we consider how massage works and how it can help resolve musculoskeletal pain we need to look at some of the ways the muscular system can become dysfunctional. Therapists are often asked what caused my problem? and the answer, unfortunately, is not always simple. In the next two articles we will follow the process of dysfunction for two common causes of neck and shoulder pain.
There is an interesting moment in the BBC News 24 countdown sequence. The tension builds as the drums beat and the pips match the time signal. Images of various correspondents, working both home and abroad, are flashed across the screen until we see John Simpson talking to camera in a war zone. An explosion occurs behind him and John, the consummate professional, continues to speak to camera. His body does react however. In fact all the people around him react in the same way. His head drops down and his shoulders rise up as he ducks.
We moved house recently, apparently one of the most stressful things you can do in normal life and whenever I took time to notice I found my shoulders were nearly up to my ears with the stress. Now Plymouth is hardly a war zone, so what is happening here? The body finds it difficult to distinguish between instantaneous fight or flight situations and the insidious stress we feel in our everyday lives and the physical reactions can be remarkably similar.
When To See A Doctor
It can be difficult to distinguish between a panic attack and a heart attack. If a person has the symptoms of a heart attack, the safest option is to call 911 right away.
If someone has left arm pain due to anxiety or panic attacks, they may wish to speak to a doctor or therapist. These professionals will be able to talk through the treatment options and help the person begin to manage their anxiety.
Read Also: Pineapple Stomach Ache
Get The Blood Flowing:
Immediate relief for muscle tension comes from lengthening the muscle fibers and increasing blood flow to the area. This can be achieved through gentle stretching, the use of heating pads, and massage.
The pressure, movement, and heat of a massage prompts an increase in circulation. Stretches can help to relieve tension by lengthening the shortened muscle fibers in the area. Both of these techniques feel good because they help to restore the muscle fibers to their true length, rather than their tightened form when tense.
These techniques are safest, and most effective, when done gently and gradually. Aggressively massaging or quickly stretching a taut muscle can achieve the opposite effect and provoke increased stiffening. When administered with a light touch, both massage and stretching can successfully ease the tightened muscles back to normal and relieve that pain.
Real Stories About Experiencing Heart Attack
“I never connect nausea, shoulder pain, heart attack together. However, one day I was cutting the grass one afternoon and walked to the house to drink water and had a sit. Then I felt nauseated and sudden pain that spread to my arm, which then curled up and could not uncurl. I had my grandson call 911 and was flown directly to a cardiac hospital after the ambulance crew said I was in full ST elevation myocardial infraction. I coded 4 times, but I recovered and was released the next day.”
“I am 58 and 3 weeks ago I had a heart attack. For a month I had symptoms like pain in my jaw, shoulder, face, arm, back and a burning in my chest. All these I felt on the left side of my body. The pain would always ease up, but one night I woke up and the pain did not go away. I took aspirin and I started throwing up, i was rushed to ER where they told me I was having a heart attack. I got treated and I now am home.”
“My mother complained about shoulder pain. Not much attention was paid and her joints ached as well but she thought it was flu. The day she experience chest pain was the day she passed out because of a major heart attack.”
Also Check: Does It Hurt To Cut Your Wrists
How To Ease Shoulder Pain Caused By Stress
Stretching is one of the most effective ways to relieve tightness or tension in your shoulders. A stretch called “thread the needle” can help ease tension in your shoulders, as well as in your neck and back.
To perform this pose:
Inflammation Of The Shoulder Capsule
The synovial membrane of the shoulder may become inflamed this is called ‘synovitis’. Synovitis may occur as a result of another condition or it may happen as a result of an injury, or the cause may be unknown.
Frozen shoulder is a condition that occurs when the shoulder capsule thickens and becomes inflamed and tight. There may also be less synovial fluid to lubricate the joint. As a result, the shoulder becomes difficult to move.
Frozen shoulder may occur as a result of another condition if the shoulder has been immobilised . Sometimes the cause of shoulder pain may not be known.
Recommended Reading: Are Stomach Pains A Sign Of Pregnancy
Apply A Warm Compress
Heat brings blood to your muscles, which helps soften the muscle tissue and allows it to stretch and relax.
- Place a blanket or towel between your skin and a heating pad thats not too hot.
- Dont leave the heating pad on for longer than 15 minutes.
- After waiting for 20 minutes, you can apply the compress for 15 more minutes.
Shoulder Pain And Heart Attack: How Are They Related
When the flow of blood to the heart is obstructed, mostly by fat build up, cholesterol, or other substances that form plague in the arteries leading to the heart, you suffer a heart attack. The blockage in the blood flow can destruct or damage part of the heart muscle. Also, referred to as a myocardial infraction, it can cause death. However, treatment has improved drastically over the years. If you experience a heart attack, dial 911 immediately. But many heart attack symptoms are confusing. For example, lots people just brush off shoulder pain causally and thinks they are nothing to worry about. But the truth is that it may indicate heart attack.
Also Check: Is Stomach Pain A Sign Of Pregnancy
Rotator Cuff Tendinitis / Tendinosis
This is essentially a breakdown of the rotator cuff tendons that are deep inside your shoulder. It can be caused by repetitive movements, maintaining the shoulder in a position where they are pinched , poor shoulder mechanics as well as other general health factors that affect the resiliency of your soft tissues.Learn about Rotator Cuff problems here.
Left Arm Pain Doesnt Always Mean Youre Having A Heart Attack Heres What To Watch For
Left arm pain and how the pain moves can be one of the key differences between mens and womens heart attacks.
In men, the left arm pain will move from the shoulder down the left arm or up to the chin. If the pain comes on suddenly and is unusually severe, or is accompanied by pressure or squeezing in the chest, seek emergency treatment immediately.
In women, the pain can be subtler. It can radiate to the right or left arm. It can involve the chin, shoulder blades and upper back. The pain can reach into the abdomen and feel like nausea, indigestion and anxiety. Women are more likely than men to experience shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back or jaw pain.
Like in men, chest pain or discomfort is a common heart attack symptom in women. The pressure or squeezing can last for more than a few minutes or be intermittent in women. Seek emergency medical treatment immediately if you have heart attack symptoms.
Not all left arm pain, achiness or difficulty moving is a sign of a heart attack. Sometimes the cause is an injury, compressed nerves or other issues that dont involve your heart.
Be mindful of the other symptoms, and if they last for more than a couple minutes, get emergency help.
Don’t Miss: Fake A Broken Arm
How Does Stress Lead To Shoulder And Back Pain
Stress is a complicated experience that involves physical and psychological factors. It can affect your body, your mental health, and your behavior. There are many effects stress can produce, and two of the most common are muscle tension and muscle pain.
Stress is the bodys response to a perceived challenge that requires a response. It can be positive, keeping you alert and ready to act, or negative, keeping you in a heightened state of tension without relief. When it is negative, the stress-related tension increases, and the natural fight or flight response is activated for an extended period of time. The result is any of a variety of physical and emotional symptoms.
Symptoms include general aches and pain, teeth grinding, headaches, and muscle tension in the face, neck, or shoulders, to name a few. It can also cause tight muscles in the back.
Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation:
Progressive muscle relaxation is a process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body. With practice, this technique familiarizes you with the sensation of tension and total relaxation in different parts of the body. Over time, progressive muscle relaxation helps you to spot the first signs of muscular tension and counteract them.
This technique only requires about 15 minutes per session. Its recommended that you practice progressive muscle relaxation twice a day at the start, until you get the hang of it. As you become more familiarized with the technique, your relaxation response will begin to naturally kick in as a response to stress-induced tension! Make sure that you practice progressive muscle relaxation safely heres a comprehensive guide.
Read Also: Why Do People Cut Wrist
Why Does Stress And Anxiety Cause Joint Pain
Life is full of stressful situations. You may feel stress over meeting a deadline, managing finances, or even something as simple as getting the kids out the door in the mornings .
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Seven out of ten adults in the United States say they experience stress or anxiety daily, and most say it interferes at least moderately with their lives.
Stress has become such a part of daily life that many people dont realize its a problem until symptoms become unbearable, and sometimes, irreversible.
Left Shoulder Pain And Chest Pain
Simultaneous pain in the left shoulder and chest may be due to some serious underlying diseases. It may be due to injuries and inflammation. Following are some of the main causes
The pain may start in the chest and may radiate to the shoulder blade. However, in some cases, the originating place is the shoulder.
Also Check: Pregnancy Stomach Symptoms
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
5. Move your body
Why Does Stress Cause Neck And Shoulder Pain
Muscle tension is a sort of reflex reaction to stress. When we experience sudden onset stress, our muscles naturally tense up in anticipation of the need to protect ourselves from a potential threat. Once that stress or perceived threat has passed, our muscles are relaxed and the tension is released. However, with chronic stress, we remain in a near constant state of guardedness. This means that our muscles dont release and the level of tension we hold remains constant. This constant tension can result in stiffness, tightness, aching, and pain.
Stress-related pain in the neck and shoulders often stems from emotional or mental anxiety. Left untreated, this constant tension can affect the nerves and muscles that run through the neck, shoulders, and spine.
Read Also: Can Pineapple Cause Stomach Pain
When To Worry About Shoulder Pain With Chest Pain
Not all chest pains with shoulder pains are a cause of concern. However, you should pay attention to the other symptoms that come along with these symptoms. In some cases, you may require immediate medical attention. Thus, it is prudent that if you are suffering from shoulder pain with chest pain, you should get it diagnosed and take appropriate treatment.
Tendonitis Or Inflammation Of Tendons
The inflammation of the connective tissue between muscle and bone is tendonitis. Owing to repetitive joint use, tendonitis sometimes occurs. Therefore, tennis players, swimmers, and musicians frequently get tendonitis for this cause. The cause of left arm pain may be tendonitis in the shoulder or elbow.
Read Also: Does It Hurt To Cut Your Wrist
Neck And Shoulder Massage
You dont have to schedule an appointment with a massage therapist if you feel tension coming on.
Instead, you could use a foam roller or a rollerball to self-massage the tense areas of your shoulders and neck.
Hand massagers are another good way to relieve tension in your neck and shoulders when you dont have someone there to help you.
You could even try placing your hand in a C position and applying pressure for 20 seconds on sore spots. You can then release and move to another area, holding the pressure for at least 20 seconds.
Stretches For Neck Tension
Some general neck stretches may help to ease out a little of the tension in your neck. Try doing these a couple of times a day if possible:
- Standing, drop your right ear to your right shoulder very slowly while continuing to look ahead. Hold for 10 seconds then swap and lower to the opposite shoulder. Repeat twice more on each side. To increase the stretch, try to keep the shoulders relaxed.
- Standing again, lower your chin to your chest, hold for 10 seconds and then look up to the ceiling and hold for 10. Repeat twice more, taking care to move the neck very slowly.
- Next, standing straight, slowly look over your right shoulder and hold for 10 seconds. Return to the centre and then slowly look over your left shoulder for 10 seconds. Repeat this 3 times.
You May Like: How To Fake A Broken Wrist
Right Shoulder Pain And Chest Pain
The pain in the right shoulder and chest are not generally due to heart disorders. There are various causes of chest pain on the right side. Stress and anxiety may lead to chest pain and causes numbness of hands and feet. Other causes of right-side chest pain include
The pain from the chest may radiate to the shoulders.
But If Your Heart Is Healthywhy Would Stress Cause A Pain In Your Left Arm
Think about that for a moment. Its not surprising that of Dr. Clarkes 7,000 stress-illness patients, hes never encountered one with a simultaneous presentation of chest and left arm pain in the presence of a healthy heart.
Angina means theres a problem with the coronary arteries, and there are treatments for this. Do NOT ignore these symptoms!
Tests by a cardiologist would begin with an EKG and cardiac stress test.
However, if you go to an emergency room with complaints of pain in the chest and left arm, you will immediately have an EKG done, blood tests to see if you had or are having a heart attack or have a blood clot in a lung, and a chest X-ray.
Anxiety, of course, is often the cause of a single symptom: chest pain.
Dr. Clarke explains, The mechanism that produces physical symptoms in anxiety is not completely understood.
But possible explanations include altered processing by the central nervous system of sensory signals from the chest and contraction of muscles in the chest caused by signals traveling from brain to muscle via the sympathetic nervous system.
Since 1983 Dr. Clarke has successfully cared for over 7,000 patients with stress illness.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. Shes also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.
Recommended Reading: Does Lidocaine Have Side Effects