The psychological effects of neck pain

The psychological effects of neck painChronic pain can have a huge negative impact on your life.  It takes an enormous emotional toll.

When I have neck pain it unfortunately seems to almost take over my life.  When I wake up in the morning (or in the middle of the night because of the pain), it’s all I think about.  I think about it all day long.  It makes me more anxious.  Becoming more anxious makes it hurt worse.

It’s a vicious cycle.

The more stressed and anxious I am because of the pain, the more it hurts.  The reality is that pain is very tightly linked to your mind.  Pain causes you to tense your muscles, and those tense muscles cause more pain.

Think back to when your back or neck pain started or flared up.  Chances are it coincides with a difficult or stressful period in your life.  This is not merely a coincidence.

The strong connection between the brain and the body when it comes to pain and depression has been studied.

Not only does pain increase stress and anxiety, it also can cause depression.  When the pain lingers on, even if it is not severe, it can be mentally debilitating.  You worry about your future – will I ever be pain free?  What if it keeps getting worse?  Your quality of life deteriorates.

So what can you do about it?

Recognizing the relationship between the mind and body is the first step.  Honestly, the first time I truly realized this was a breakthrough for me in my pain management.

Next, you have to do things to help break the cycle.  There are a number of things you can do:

Massage therapy can help relax the muscles and give you some relief.  It also relaxes the mind.

Meditation can help you train your mind to not dwell on negative thoughts such as thinking about how bad your pain is.

Acupuncture can help not only to relieve pain but also can be very effective in relieving stress.

Seeing a therapist to help you deal with your stress and pain related anxiety is another strategy that I have found very helpful.

Breathing exercises can help to quiet your mind and allow your body to relax.

Yoga is a great stress reliever, and helps you to stretch out tight muscles.  Be sure to consult your doctor before practicing yoga and avoid any poses that cause pain.

What are your favorite stress relieving techniques?  Have you found there to be a relationship between your level of pain and your stress level?  Please let us know in the comments below.

 

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