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Stress & Tension

A commonly experienced problem where psychological or physical stress can lead to issues with your muscles and joints causing pain and discomfort. In this article we look at symptoms, causes and treatment options. 

Everyday Stress

Stress is an unavoidable part of our daily lives, affecting us mentally, emotionally, and even physically. One of the often overlooked consequences of chronic stress is the manifestation of muscle tension and pain. On this page, we will look into the intricate relationship between stress and its impact on our musculoskeletal system. By understanding the mechanisms through which stress leads to muscle tension and pain, we can develop effective strategies to manage and alleviate these symptoms, enhancing our overall well-being.

Stress and the body 

When we encounter a stressful situation, our bodies activate the “fight-or-flight” response, triggering a cascade of physiological changes. Stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, flood our system, preparing us to respond to the perceived threat. While this response is crucial for survival, chronic activation can have adverse effects on our physical health.

Under chronic stress, our bodies continuously produce stress hormones, resulting in sustained muscle tension. This tension is primarily caused by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates the body’s involuntary response to stress. Increased muscle tension can occur in various regions, such as the neck, shoulders, back, and jaw, leading to discomfort and pain.

The relationship between stress and muscle tension goes beyond the physical response. Stress triggers a complex interplay between the brain and the musculoskeletal system, involving both conscious and unconscious processes. The brain’s limbic system, particularly the amygdala, plays a crucial role in stress perception and emotional response. These emotional signals can subsequently activate motor neurons, causing muscle groups to contract involuntarily.

Persistent muscle tension resulting from chronic stress can lead to the development of muscle pain syndromes, such as tension headaches, fibromyalgia, and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ). Muscle pain can further exacerbate stress levels, creating a vicious cycle. The discomfort and reduced functionality associated with muscle pain can negatively impact an individual’s quality of life, perpetuating the stress response and perpetuating the cycle of pain.

How to help reduce symptoms from stress and tension

The correlation between long term stress, muscle tension, and pain is a commonly felt aspect of twenty first century life. Chronic stress can have far-reaching implications on our physical health, particularly in terms of musculoskeletal well-being. Understanding the mechanisms underlying stress-induced muscle tension and pain is crucial for developing effective strategies to manage and alleviate these symptoms. At Skelian, we believe in treating our patients as a whole entity of body and mind. The interconnection between the two is vital to the function of our everyday lives and also the enjoyment of life. Our trained and experienced healthcare professionals at Skelian can help you manage your stress and tension through advice on lifestyle, exercise and general health tips. We can also help with some of your physical symptoms that develop through stress such as tight muscles and tension. 

Incorporating stress management techniques, such as exercise, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques, can help break the cycle and promote overall well-being. By prioritising stress reduction and adopting a holistic approach to health, we can mitigate the negative impact of stress on our musculoskeletal system and help lead healthier, pain-free lives.

If you would like to know more about how we might be able to help you with stress and tension please contact the clinic on 01242 254000 to speak to one of our trusted expert practitioners. 

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Alex Broomsgrove, Chiropractor Cheltenham Skelian

Alex Broomsgrove



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Dani Cowley

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