There are numerous causes of neck pain but many people don’t realise that withdrawal from medications can be one such trigger. This is particularly true of medications taken to help with anxiety and depression, which can also have the effect of relaxing muscles and desensitising users to pain. Neck pain during Xanax withdrawal is, therefore, a common concern that may be easily overlooked considering the other issues faced by those quitting benzodiazepines.
Xanax, or alprazolam, is a sedative medication used to combat anxiety and to help with muscle relaxation, sleep disorders and spasmodic disorders or convulsions. This drug can create both psychological and physiological dependency when used long-term and the severity of withdrawal symptoms is usually associated with the length of use of the drug.
Symptoms of Xanax Withdrawal
The half-life or Xanax is relatively short, predisposing users to more side effects than those drugs metabolised more slowly. A range of issues connected to Xanax withdrawal can precipitate neck pain, including:
- Increased stress and tension
- Sleep disturbances
- Cognitive issues affecting self-care (such as forgetting pain medications or not eating properly)
- Depression or other mood changes (sensitising a person to pain)
- Muscle stiffness, especially in the back, neck and jaw
- Paraesthesia, itching, and burning pain
- Tension headaches
- Nausea and vomiting
People withdrawing from Xanax may become hyper-aware or hypersensitive to certain sounds and smells, such as the ticking of clocks or the smell of cooking, which may then affect their ability to eat well, sleep well, engage in regular exercise or otherwise maintain healthy behaviours. Problems with memory, sleep, concentration, and feelings of dissociation, anxiety, depression, irritability, anger, and panic may also impair a person’s capacity for self-care.
Xanax Withdrawal and Neck Pain
As heart palpitations, breathing problems, neck and jaw pain, and feelings of impending death are also a risk of Xanax withdrawal it may be that people are worried over a heart attack or even experience a heart attack that is not immediately recognised for what it is. Some people also become obsessive when withdrawing from benzodiazepines and, depending on the obsessive behaviour, this could trigger neck pain.
Physiologically, Xanax withdrawal can cause increased nerve sensitivity resulting in spasms and tremors in the muscles, as well as pins and needles and even numbness or a feeling of electric shocks. Changes in temperature may also occur and muscle stiffness and tension are common, which could lead to neck pain during Xanax withdrawal.
Safely Discontinuing Xanax
Weaning oneself off Xanax should be done with medical supervision and the process largely depends on the length of time a person has been using the drug, their individual circumstances, and their dosage. Tapering the dose is usually best, and some users will be switched to a longer-acting benzodiazepine that has a lesser impact when discontinued.
Support for Xanax Withdrawal
Patients should be offered psychological and emotional support during withdrawal from Xanax in order to develop coping strategies for any symptoms that do arise. Nutritional support may also be helpful, such as using natural anxiolytics like theanine, Rhodiola rosea, and the B vitamins to lessen the effects of anxiety and stress. The latter may also help because Xanax appears to deplete the B vitamin biotin, a deficiency of which can lead to numbness and tingling in the extremities.
Natural Relief During Xanax Withdrawal
B vitamins, theanine, or GABA, can also help with the sleep disturbances commonly experienced during Xanax withdrawal. Theanine and Rhodiola are particularly helpful for daytime anxiety when a person wishes to remain alert but calm rather than sleepy. If insomnia is the main issue then it may be that melatonin is helpful in re-establishing a good sleep regime. Any natural medications should be discussed with a physician prior to use as these may interact with Xanax or other medications or conditions.
Xanax and Neck Pain
Anyone experiencing neck pain during Xanax withdrawal should discuss this symptom with their physician as arthralgia, back pain, muscle cramps and spasms, and myalgia are all possible withdrawal effects and the presence of this symptom suggests that a more gradual tapering may be necessary. Of course, it is possible that Xanax use has been masking an underlying musculoskeletal issue that needs to be dealt with separately using specific analgesics, physical therapy or other treatment.