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How Does Stress Affect Muscle Pain?

January 15, 2020 | Muscle Pain

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Most people associate muscle pain with an injury or chronic condition. But, the truth is that muscle pain is most commonly caused by stress and tension. Here, we’ll learn more about the connection between stress and pain, as well as review simple strategies to reduce tension throughout the day.

The Effect of Stress On Muscles

When we feel stressed out, our muscles react by suddenly tensing up. This is our bodies’ natural instinct – we’re trying to protect ourselves against pain or injury, even though the stress often only stems from our minds. The resulting tension won’t leave the muscles until the stress passes.

If the muscles remain tense for long periods of time, the body may react in other, more extreme ways. For instance, you may start to experience migraines or chronic neck and shoulder pain. Over time, this pain can even develop into musculoskeletal disorders.

When people struggle to manage their stress on a day-to-day basis, they’ll often experience chronic muscle pain, making it difficult to get through the day comfortably.

Other physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Jaw pain and tension
  • Dizziness
  • Frequent sickness, namely the common cold
  • Stomach pain and nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Weakness and fatigue

Stress-Relieving Strategies

The more effectively you can manage daily stressors, the less likely you are to develop muscular conditions over time. The strategies listed below are designed to help you overcome stress in the moment that it arises. They work by engaging your mind and body in an activity that’s completely unrelated to the stressful situation. This will cause the stress response to fade, at least temporarily. But, by consistently practicing these strategies, you can start to identify and avoid stress before it strikes.

Simple Activities For Stress Management:

  • Close your eyes and take five deep breaths
  • Play the “alphabet game” – identify objects in the room that start with each letter of the alphabet
  • Engage in light exercise, such as jumping jacks, brisk walking, or yoga
  • Take a break outside and enjoy the fresh air
  • Write in a journal
  • Watch or read something that makes you laugh
  • Listen to calming music
  • Spend time with a pet

Our emotions play a big role in how our bodies feel. With a multidisciplinary approach to pain management, Dr. Neel Amin is able to tackle the underlying stress and tension causing muscle pain.


Jennings, Kerri-Ann. “16 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 28 Aug. 2018,

“Stress Effects on the Body.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association,

“Stress Effects.” The American Institute of Stress, The American Institute of Stress, 30 Dec. 2019,