Can Stress Cause Shoulder Pain?

Tension and tightness in your shoulders is common symptom of anxiety and stress. It's part of your body's fight or flight stress response or its way of preparing to confront or survive a perceived physical threat. 

Fortunately, shoulder pain from stress responds well to yoga, stretching and other relaxation methods. 

Can Stress Cause Frozen Shoulder? 

Prolonged or increased levels of stress and anxiety can cause inflammation. This, in turn, may result in a stiff or "frozen" shoulder. Tension or stress can cause tightness when it gathers in our shoulders, and when this stress is sustained over a long period, it manifests as stiffness and pain. 

If the cause of your frozen shoulder is anxiety, effective treatments will involve utilizing proven tools and techniques to address the stress in your life. 

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:

  1. Get down on your hands and knees and place your palms flat on the floor. Your knees should be under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders. 
  2. With your palm facing upward, slide your right hand over to the left side of your body. It should be in contact with the floor when you do this, and your body will rotate with the movement. Gently slide your left hand forward and sink down until your right shoulder is touching the floor as you look to the left. 
  3. Support your weight using your left hand.
  4. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds before returning to the starting position.
  5. Repeat steps one through four on the left side. 
  6. Complete the exercise two to three times on each side. 

Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety 

Developing stress management skills is one of the best things you can do to manage stress and anxiety — and, in some cases, alleviate shoulder pain. 

Try reducing stress through techniques such as:

Find Relief for Shoulder Pain From Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics 

If your shoulder pain doesn't improve with self-care techniques such as stretching, follow up with a shoulder specialist as soon as possible. 

To schedule an appointment with one of our shoulder doctors at Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics, you can book online or call us at one of our Franklin or Nashville locations today. 

Nick Flory Nick is the Marketing Manager for Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. He has been writing and reviewing medical content since 2018.

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