As a Doctor of Chiropractic who specializes in stress-related headaches, neck and shoulder pain, 80% of my patients present with muscle tension, pain, and structural problems of or related to their spine. All 100% of my patients could benefit from a reduction of stress in their lives, even if they present with an injury that had been caused by a fall or car accident.
Stress in small amounts can actually be beneficial. Think about the last time you felt pressed for a deadline. Most people will become more focused, work more diligently, and get more accomplished because they know they have to be finished by a certain time and date. In this case, a deadline can be a beneficial stresses that acts to draw you closer to a goal or accomplishment.
Long-term stress can be very harmful to our bodies. One deadline will not do the trick. Most often, it is a combination of stressors that push us over our limits. It’s the series of deadlines in the same week combined with the fact your child gets sick the morning of your big presentation. You hadn’t eaten well for the past few weeks because you had to spend hours after work trying to meet the upcoming deadlines. Your spouse is upset that you have been spending enough quality time together, and your mom called to say that she had to take your dad to the emergency room last night. Can you relate?
In today’s society we live in a constant state of low anxiety. It’s as if at any point in time one more stressor could push us over the limit. You can feel your neck and shoulders feel tight. They’ve been that way for so long that you don’t even notice it any more…until you are half way through your presentation. You just dropped your pointer and go to pick it up…and it happens….a sharp, sheering pain from your neck shoots down your arm and you yelp in pain. You finish your presentation and think this pain will go away soon. Two weeks later, you are in my office.
Can stress really cause neck pain? Shoulder pain? Back pain? Headaches? Stomach problems? Skin problems? Yes, Yes, and Yes!
What does chronic and uncontrolled stress do to my body? When we live with chronic stress our nervous system starts to change. People begin to see physical symptoms instead of just feeling anxious and jittery or run down and depressed, they start to develop the first symptoms of chronic stress: chronic headaches and increased susceptibility to fight off infections. Muscle tension increases and muscular imbalance can lead to neck, shoulder, and back pain, as well as a host of other problems. Some individuals develop depression, anxiety, diabetes, heart disease, thyroid problems, obesity, sexual dysfunction, or ulcers. Not fun!
What can do to avoid stress-related headaches, neck, shoulder, and back pain? Stay active, learn good stretches, drink lots of water, eat healthy, meditate or use a relaxation technique you life daily, talk about what is bothering you with a friend or loved one.
I do suggest that if you have suffered with headaches, neck, shoulder, or back pain for more than three days, go to your chiropractor!
Once I come in to see you, Dr. Funk, what will you do to help me with my headaches, neck, shoulder or back pain? I use a combination of soft-tissue techniques (similar to massage), spinal manipulation, stretching, and simple strengthening exercises. Each patient has a 30-minute treatment that is relaxing and therapeutic. Patients who present with the conditions above can expect to see that their pain will subside in four to six visits. The visits following will help to eliminate the cause that created the pain in the first place.