Some people complain about pain and aches when stressed. Multiple studies link the stress hormone cortisol to chronic pain. One study built comparisons between 16 people with back pain to a control group and discovered that individuals with worse pain had more cortisol in their systems. Stress hormones frequently cause muscle tension, which can lead to chronic pain. Some people who experience stress describe shoulder tension that is painful to the touch. It may be that people who are stressed unconsciously tense their muscles. It is not clear whether stress brings on the pain or whether stress is a consequence of dealing with pain and discomfort.
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