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Lady Krazy Kat

Can unrelenting anxiety cause severe neck pain (or pinched nerve)?

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Hi All. I have been having this very sharp pain in my neck (left side only) since Friday morning, accompanied by a headache (also on the left side). The pain kind of radiates down my left shoulder a bit. It feels like it's gotten a bit worse today. No numbness, tingling, or anything like that. I'm guessing it could be a "pinched nerve" just it feels like SOMETHING in there is being pinched, plus it is fairly localized. I'm a physically healthy 28 y/o female of normal weight, that just had a physical and has no medical conditions (I say this because "the internet" says symptoms of a pinched nerve can be the same as those of a heart attack).

I know the answer is probably to go to the doctor, but I feel kinda stupid going to the ER (the only option available now) for "neck pain." (And I feel I take too much time off of work to go to psych appointments, so I also want to minimize time off for trivial pain issues, if they are in fact trivial). The pain is unresponsive to OTC pain meds; I have tried gentle neck stretches, did some yoga this morning, have been using ice and heat, all to no avail.

Can severe prolonged anxiety (with an intense physiological reaction) cause something like this? I tend to have neck and shoulder pain in general, which has been checked out and deemed to have no physical, and I hold my anxiety and tension in these areas. I had an incident at work on Thursday in which I was highly triggered (with regard to PTSD) with a strong physical and mental symptoms of anxiety. It was also a bit of a scary incident in general, even without PTSD. I am a social worker, and I was with a bunch of clients at the time running a group and had to take care of their issues/reactions to the situation (and then a huge string of events happened afterward as they often do at work), so I couldn't deal with my own anxiety or practice any self-care for several hours. Since then, my general anxiety level (especially the physical symptoms) has been still pretty high, and I've felt quite hypervigiliant.

So, I guess I have two questions: 1.) can prolonged periods of anxiety cause severe neck pain (like if I was holding tension for so long it caused something to get pinched or "stuck" in my neck)? and 2.) Is this something that warrants medical attention or just continue to deal on my own?


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When I had a high stress job I saw my chiropractor and masseuse every week. They gave me relief from the stress, neck and shoulder pain. I no longer have that stressful job and no longer need those services.

So in my experience #1 is a yes and #2 is a maybe. Stress is a killer, this is no joke, but this is: A guy walks into a bar with a duck under his arm...

Edited by Twin beams II

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That sounds like a pretty rough week with all that stress. Could you see a physio or get a massage? I know for me it's usually muscle tension and responds better to massage than to painkillers (although they are good too).

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