Stress affects people in different ways and can manifest with aches and pains in various parts of the body causing physical and mental health concerns. Stress triggers a well understood biological response, resulting in a surge of chemicals and hormones throughout your body as a result of a perceived threat or major challenge.


Stress triggers your fight-or-flight response in order to fight the stressor or run away from it. Typically, after the response occurs, your body should relax.


In 2020, 79 % of employees reported to suffer from work related stress, making work related stress the most common source of causing an individual stress.


Other sources of stress include financial stress, health stress, family stress and relationship stress.


Cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, immune system suppression, headaches, back and neck pain, and sleep problems are some of the health problems associated with stress (Jackson, 2013). Stress also influences individual behaviours that affect health. Diet choices, sleep habits, and drug use are behaviours that are often negatively affected by stress.


Poor management of stress can lead overeating or eating unhealthy food, sedentary lifestyle, poor sleep, or skipping meals and malnutrition.


Exercise, relaxation techniques and physical activity are known as good ways to manage stress.


Signs and Symptoms of Stress


Some of the common signs and symptoms of stress are:


  • headache
  • sleep disturbance
  • upset stomach
  • fatigue
  • lack of concentration
  • muscle tension
  • irritability and short temper
  • change in dietary habit
  • anxiety
  • frequent cold


Effect of Stress on the Musculoskeletal System


Muscle tension occurs when body is stressed — the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain. When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger myofascial pain, Tension-type headache, migraine headache, tension in the shoulders, neck and head, low back and upper back.


Many of the bodies systems are affected such as the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, as well as other systems of the body.


Stress Management


Stress coping methods are the cognitive, behavioural and psychological efforts to deal with stress. There are many stress management techniques some of them are progressive muscle relaxation, cognitive behaviour therapy, transcendental meditation, breathing techniques, yoga, exercises and biofeedback. A comprehensive stress management program will include specific techniques prescribed on an individual basis but a general stress management recommendation include


  • Identifying stressors
  • Get adequate rest
  • Develop a time management plan
  • Develop a healthy diet plan
  • Engaging in regular physical exercise.
  • Mobilize a support network


Osteopathy, using a series of massage stretching and manipulation techniques help identify sources of pain and relieve affected areas, improve mobility and reduce any swelling, ultimately, together with a boil-psycho-social model of intervention, aims to improve the negative effects of stress.


Osteopathy is a safe, gentle approach to dealing with the common painful manifestations of stress.