Neck Pain & the stress of writing a PhD


Hello everyone,

Hope you're all well. I'm just a bit concerned by the fact that my neck has been aching a lot lately and i mean A LOT! Sometimes I just have to stop working to deal with it. A couple of friends reckon its stress, some have mentioned that these symptoms could lead to hysteria! The interesting this is that when am doing other stressful activities such as mundane jobs, my neck doesn't ache. But when I start thinking about writing up, it all begins again. I have considered jogging to let off steam but decided against it because I get so tired after jogging that am unable to work on my thesis.

Is anyone experiencing this kind of pain or aware of someone who has experienced it? Is it something serious that could lead to high blood pressure or a nervous breakdown? I'm not about to die for my PhD as much as am passionate about my research! There's more to life... like being a suburban housewife and avoiding neck pain when reading journals and writing papers.

Your thoughts?


Dr John Pillinger, GP and Dr Dan Rutherford, GP say that neck pain can be caused by stress and worry. Have a look at this trusty web page:


Hi Jojo

I once had a really really stressful job, and developed a pain in one of my shoulders which constantly ached. I thought it was the way I was sitting, my chair, the keyboard etc etc, and I might've been a bit hunched over my keyboard, but I think the main cause was stress. Once I left the job I didn't need the ergonomic keyboard etc and the pain went - like you. But, you have to write up and can't just leave it. Have you thought about going to a physio to get a massage? And do exercises for your neck?

Exercise also does help - don't overdo it though. I used to have lots of kinks and tight spots in my shoulders, and I've found that the best thing to deal with this is using weights at the gym, in a proper class, which includes stretches. It's amazing - all my muscles are no longer tense and I can move freely. So, think about doing things to help you destress and also to treat the muscles.

And am v. interested in how this could lead to hysteria - sounds bizarre!


I saw my chiropractor for a similar neck problem recently. Very painful, especially when driving. It took 2 visits and some straightforward exercises to right it. Perhaps you could do the same?

Avatar for sneaks

I find I develop a neck pain when reading journals because they are either on my lap or I am hunched over the desk to read them because they are on the flat. I bought a copy holder which has eliminated some of this. Also stress - how about doing some lighter exercise like just walking or dancing about a bit 8-) I would try a lavender heat cushion thingy around your neck and maybe some deep heat or something to relax the muscles. Could it be your pillow as well causing a problem?


Hi Jojo, give yoga a try maybe? M.x


thanks everyone.. sorry some of you have been through this terrible pain. your suggestions are really good. walminski and sue -i think this is stress related. am looking into neck exercises. i would love to go to the gym, but funds are low.:-( @aloha - what do chiropractors do? (i know i could google but am tired of doing research. lol.) what exercises did they tell you to do? @sneaks - your methods sound really good. a copy holder is something i must get. that will also help my eyes. am tired of squinting. i do a lot of walking. maybe i could dance a bit. any neck moves?8-) am definitely getting a heat cushion, then deep heat if that doesn't work. my pillows are low budget and are definitely part of the problem! will buy new ones in the weekend.

thanks again people. will let you know how i get on with each suggestion.:-)