Stress and Neck Pain – Which Came First?

Neck Pain

When it comes to pain in the neck, stress is a very common thing that happens concurrently. This can make it difficult to figure out which of these came first. Both of these could be a cause of the other one. When you have pain that is reoccurring and/or very painful that pain itself can cause anxiety. Conversely, when you are stressed you may find that you have muscle tension, usually caused by bad sleep, or weakened health due to the stress. That muscle tension and cramping can be neck pain triggers.

What Action Can You Take?

The first step in addressing your pain is to figure out what issue is causing your symptoms. Your neck pain may be coming from psychological causes, fibromyalgia, worry, or a medical cause. It is best to visit your physician to get a neck pain diagnosis. If you believe your neck pain to be stress related you may want to ask for help from your friend and family. Also, it may be useful to go over your lifestyle looking for neck pain triggers. These triggers can include things such as medications you may be on and your eating habits.

What To Expect At The Doctor

When you go to the doctor for a neck pain diagnosis you will likely be asked about anxiety or worries in your life, any possible depression, and questions about your lifestyle. Your doctor knows that there are both psychological causes that could cause the pain and physical causes that could also lead to pain. Your doctor will also likely screen for other causes such as a thyroid condition or fibromyalgia. They will probably also check your posture, as poor posture can also be a trigger.

What Can I Do To Help Ease My Neck Pain

If your doctor does find a physical cause for your pain there are still psychological things you can do to help to cope and reduce your neck pain, on top of any treatment that is given for the physical condition. You may want to look into relaxation exercises. These will help you manage the pain easier. If you work to cultivate a happier and calmer state of mind it will help to deal with setbacks. Dealing with the emotional tension that you may have will go a very long way towards helping you potentially reduce the pain you are experiencing.

You will also want to look at your daily habits and lifestyle. Not getting enough sleep can make your pain worse, so you may want to take steps to get more and better quality sleep. Diet can also play a factor so you may want to see where your eating habits can be improved and make sure you are getting quality nutrition. Smoking and drinking can also potentially contribute to worsening the pain. You may want to try to reduce or eliminate these.

How Can I Cope With Neck Pain and Stress?

By now you probably have a good idea what potential triggers could be causing your pain. Taking active steps to remove these triggers will go a long way. Your doctor can advise you on different medications that could help ease your pain, such as NSAIDs or prescription medication. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to address any depression or anxiety you may be having. Other psychological methods to address worry and anxiety like cognitive behavioral therapy may be explored. Physical therapy should be recommended. There are some alternative therapies that could help provide relief such as acupressure and acupuncture. Specialized pillows that help to support and align the neck may help to provide more restful sleep.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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