Is Stress A Leading Cause Of Chronic Pain In The Body
Based on research studies, chronic pain does not just happen due to physical injury. It also happens because of stress.
Physical pain due to stress is most familiar with people who have experienced a severe level of trauma and even had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder . These people are at higher risk of experiencing chronic pain.
What Is Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is defined as a physical pain that prolongs quite longer, usually over 3 months.
However, there is a considerable portion of the people who experience chronic pain just because of the feelings associated with stress, anxiety or depression.
Chronic pain is dangerous as it can hinder ones complete ability in moving with ease and also affecting their normal functioning.
Usually, the best remedy often perceived by people is having pain medications, but their side-effects further compound the overall problem.
Most people are aware of an essential fact that emotional stress can cause some severe problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, and stomachaches. However, they might not know very well that it can even cause some other kinds of complaints that are physical along with chronic pain.
One logical reason, as some of the studies have found, is that when people are more stressed and anxious, their muscles become tenser and also constricted. As a result, the muscles then not just become inefficient but even fatigued as well over some time.
Tip: Electrical muscle stimulation can help you in treating muscle pain.
Can Anxiety Cause Diaphragm Spasms
Anxiety can also cause muscle spasms. The most common reasons for spasms include: Muscle Tension Anxiety causes a considerable amount of muscle tension, and muscle tension can lead to both cramping and spasms. Muscle tension is a lot like exercise it tires out the muscles and causes them to spasm as a result.
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Anxiety And Chest Pain
Chest pain is one of the common symptoms of Panic Disorder. Different studies have shown that somewhere between 22% and 70% of panic attacks are associated with chest pain. Either way, thats a lot. Chest pain occurs frequently in Panic Disorder. In addition, it is estimated that 25% of the patients that come to the emergency room with chest pain have Panic Disorder.
The chest pain that occurs in Panic Disorder is often described as a sharp, stabbing sensation that starts suddenly.
While there are similarities between anxiety chest pain and pain due to a heart problem, there are some significant differences that will help you distinguish between the two.
Anxiety chest pain most often develops when you are at rest, while heart attack pain most often develops when you are being active. This is one difference.
Another difference is that pain from a heart attack will frequently spread from your chest to other areas of your body. Typically, if it spreads, it will go to your jaw, left shoulder and arm. However, chest pain caused by anxiety will only be present in your chest.
Finally, anxiety chest pain tends to develop quickly and then fade somewhat rapidly, often within 10 minutes, but heart condition pain starts slowly and gradually increases.
However, be sure to tell your doctor that you are having a panic attack or that you have a history of panic attacks. This will help your doctor understand how to best diagnose your chest pain.
Anxiety and Back Pain
Anxiety and Headaches
How To Stop These Pains
Most of these aches and pains are treatable with the very same treatments you would use if you had these problems in the absence anxiety. For example, over the counter painkillers are a popular treatment and appropriate stretching or exercise may reduce some of the discomforts. Furthermore, by taking steps to treat the underlying anxiety, rather than simply the pain that you feel, youre more likely to be able to avoid aches and pains happening in the first place.
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How To Deal With Your Anxiety Symptoms
Right now, with stay-at-home orders and extreme economic uncertainty part of the new normal,anxiety levels are very high, even for those who havent experienced much anxiety in the past, Dr. Merrill says.
Just because a symptom is linked to anxiety doesnt mean it should be ignored.
Mindfulness-based practices can help, especially if they involve some type of physical movement that benefits both body and mind. He suggests yoga or tai chi, for example, because they incorporate breath-work in their practices.
In terms of treatment, Dr. Laino suggests talking with your healthcare provider about both your symptoms and anxiety as a possible cause to ensure youre getting an accurate diagnosis from a trained professional. Even if youre under a stay-at-home order, there are many telehealth options right now, he adds, which means you can have an appointment and even get a prescription without going into an office.
Most of all, take it seriously. Just because a symptom is linked to anxiety doesnt mean it should be ignored, he says There are various medications and talk therapies that can help people who suffer with acute, chronic, or post-traumatic anxieties.
Best of all, as your anxiety knots get loosened, its likely many of your physical issues will start to ease as well.
Easy Tips To Relieve Stress
Stress affects the body in a variety of ways,from mood swings and headaches to weight fluctuations. However, an often overlookedside effect of stress is neck and back pain. Over time, repetitive bouts ofstress can cause musculoskeletal issues in these regions of the body.
When we get stressed out, the body naturally releases certainhormones. Adrenaline is associated with the ancient fight or flight phenomenonthat heightens our blood pressure, increases our blood supply, and causes themuscles around our spine to tense and spasm in case we need to flee the sourceof the stress. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone it interferes with avariety of functions. Elevations in cortisol can lead to loss of muscle massand increases in fat accumulation.
“Stress affects the body in a variety of ways, from mood swings and headaches to weight fluctuations. However, an often-overlooked side effect of stress is neck and back pain. Over time, repetitive bouts of stress can cause musculoskeletal issues in these regions of the body.”
Kavita Trivedi, D.O.
Data suggest that adults know stress affects their spines. Online survey participants ranked the No. 1 perceived cause of their neck and back pain as follows:
- Stress: 29 percent
- Spinal disc herniation: 21 percent
- Sitting at a desk at work: 20 percent
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Ways To Help Reduce Stress And Stomach Pain
According to a poll that tracks negative experiences of people in 115 countries, 2020 was the year the world reached its highest stress peak in over 15 years. Around 40% of the surveyed population reported experiencing significant stress.
While you should see a doctor if your stomach pain is severe, prolonged, or recurring, there are things you can do to calm a nervous stomach and help reduce the kind of stress and anxiety that could lead to stomach problems.
The Connection Of The Mind And Body With Stress
However, did you know that it might happen that the doctor will not see anything physically wrong, and he might even ask, What is happening in your life these days? You can tell him that things are quite intense these days.
You are not just experiencing multiple deadlines at work, but you may also be having some volunteering activities and also taking care of your parents/kids, who are not well.
Then the doctor will indeed suggest you gently that the main reasons for severe headache and pain in the neck are the hectic schedule and feelings of depression related to your parents/kids well-being.
Also, based on the results of the multiple studies conducted in recent years, it is clear that depression, stress, panic attacks, anxiety and emotional events can cause some of the severe physical symptoms associated with stress.
Tip: There is a difference of effectiveness between Alpha-Stim and TENS for treating pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Let find out what are the common physical symptoms associated with stress.
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Treatment Options For Stress
The first thing we do with every patient who has back pain is determine its root cause. Its important to understand that no adult can expect to live 100 percent pain-free or stress-free. However, we can discuss ways to minimize discomfort and help patients feel less tense.
An effective way to reduce stress and back pain is to exercise and stretch more.
Physical activity can release endorphins and improve overall health, which can help reduce stress. Make a point to get up during the work day and do a few laps around the office every few hours, or try a standing desk. At home, reserve time to exercise. Physical therapy also can help relieve spine pain and return your neck and back to optimal flexibility. A physical therapist can show you specific stretches to pinpoint trouble areas in your neck and back.
Eating a healthy diet also can help reduce stress.
When you eat well long term, your general health can improve, and you will likely feel more energetic. Healthy eating is key to weight loss and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight offloads pressure from your spine and improves your posture.
Additionally, its important to make time in your schedule to relax.
Many patients with back pain are very busy with work, family, and social commitments. Carve out time to read a good book, spend time with family and friends, or practice mindfulness or meditation.
How Anxiety Can Cause Joint And Muscle Pain
Put simply, anxiety is the bodys natural response to stress. Most everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, but some individuals experience excessive amounts of anxiety, which can be due to an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder, affecting 40 million adults in the United States ages 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety disorders include:
- Excessive worrying
- Tendency to avoid social situations
- Irrational fears
- Tense muscles and joint and muscle pain
When an individual experiences anxiety or long-term stress, the body continually produces cytokine molecules. Cytokines are a type of signaling molecules that mediate and regulate immunity, inflammation, and hematopoiesis. Cytokines affect the growth of all blood cells that help the bodys immune and inflammation response. One of the main reasons that anxiety can cause joint and muscle pain is because too many of these molecules cause inflammation to the joints and more pain when performing normal body movements. Anxiety also worsens long-term stress and causes the brain to release excessive amounts of adrenaline from the fight or flight system. Over time, surges of adrenaline can damage the blood vessels, increase blood pressure, cause anxiety, weight gain, headaches, and insomnia, and even increase risks of heart attacks and stroke.
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Is Your Lower Back Or Hip Pain From Stress And Anxiety
We face stressors in our everyday lives, from work to relationships, and its natural to accumulate stress and experience some anxiety. Its how we harbor those emotions that can directly impact our health.
Did you know that stress, trauma, and emotions can cause muscle pain? For some, this pain becomes chronic until it is addressed both physically and mentally.
The more stress we hold on to, or the more trauma we suppress, the more our body works to overcompensate and protect us. Much of our stresses and emotional trauma are stored within our muscles like the hip flexors and neck.
Getting to know how stress impacts your anatomy can help you navigate your daily stressors and begin to manage your emotions with a more holistic approach.
Symptoms Of Stress And Anxiety
Stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body. In small doses, the stress response can improve alertness and sharpen senses however, chronic stress can lead to serious problems such as cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal problems, and autoimmune disease. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms on an ongoing basis.
- Frequent colds or infections
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Why These Conditions Often Occur Together And How To Treat Them When They Do
Everyone experiences pain at some point, but in people with or anxiety, pain can become particularly intense and hard to treat. People suffering from depression, for example, tend to experience more severe and long-lasting pain than other people.
The overlap of anxiety, depression, and pain is particularly evident in chronic and sometimes disabling pain syndromes such as , , low back pain, headaches, and nerve pain. For example, about two-thirds of patients with irritable bowel syndrome who are referred for follow-up care have symptoms of psychological distress, most often anxiety. About 65% of patients seeking help for depression also report at least one type of pain symptom. Psychiatric disorders not only contribute to pain intensity but also to increased risk of disability.
Researchers once thought the reciprocal relationship between pain, anxiety, and depression resulted mainly from psychological rather than biological factors. Chronic pain is depressing, and likewise major depression may feel physically painful. But as researchers have learned more about how the brain works, and how the nervous system interacts with other parts of the body, they have discovered that pain shares some biological mechanisms with anxiety and depression.
In addition, two neurotransmitters and norepinephrine contribute to pain signaling in the brain and nervous system. They also are implicated in both anxiety and depression.
Finding The Right Therapist
Professional help can be a powerful tool in treating the physical symptoms of anxiety. Still, even the best therapist wont be much of a service if you dont feel comfortable opening up to them. Because your therapeutic relationship can significantly affect your mental health treatments success, its crucial to find a therapist that matches your personal preferences and requirements.
To find a mental health professional, consider searching for an online therapist at the Therapy Group of NYC. We know that anxiety can feel overwhelming to the point that it feels uncontrollable. With proper treatment, its possible to manage your anxiety symptoms, take control of your mental health, and live a fulfilling life.
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What Happens With Excessive Worrying
Worrying is feeling uneasy or being overly concerned about a situation or problem. With excessive worrying, your mind and body go into overdrive as you constantly focus on “what might happen.”
In the midst of excessive worrying, you may suffer with high anxiety — even panic — during waking hours. Many chronic worriers tell of feeling a sense of impending doom or unrealistic fears that only increase their worries. Ultra-sensitive to their environment and to the criticism of others, excessive worriers may see anything — and anyone — as a potential threat.
Chronic worrying can affect your daily life so much that it may interfere with your appetite, lifestyle habits, relationships, sleep, and job performance. Many people who worry excessively are so anxiety-ridden that they seek relief in harmful lifestyle habits such as overeating, cigarette smoking, or using alcohol and drugs.
Treatment Options When Pain And Anxiety Or Depression Intersect
In patients with depression or anxiety, various psychotherapies can be used on their own to treat pain or may be combined with drug treatment.
Cognitive behavioral therapy. Pain is demoralizing as well as hurtful. Cognitive behavioral therapy is not only an established treatment for anxiety and depression, it is also the best studied psychotherapy for treating pain. CBT is based on the premise that thoughts, feelings, and sensations are all related. Therapists use CBT to help patients learn coping skills so that they can manage, rather than be victimized by, their pain.
Relaxation training. Various techniques can help people to relax and reduce the stress response. Stress tends to exacerbate pain as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression. Techniques include progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, and mindfulness training.
Hypnosis. During this therapy, a clinician helps a patient achieve a trance-like state and then provides positive suggestions for instance, that pain will improve. Some patients can also learn self-hypnosis. One study showed that hypnosis training reduced both gastrointestinal distress and levels of depression and anxiety in 71% of those studied.
Exercise. There’s an abundance of research that regular physical activity boosts mood and alleviates anxiety, but less evidence about its impact on pain.
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What Is Samhsas National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
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If You Do Just One Thing With Breathing: Slow Down Your Exhalations
It doesnt have to be an exercise: just pausing for an extra beat or two at the end of a handful of breaths is a good start. Literally just hold your breath for a count of 1 or 2 at the end of breaths that are completely normal otherwise.
Breathing regularity and overall slowness is a good start, but extending exhalation is even better for a specific biological reason: exhalation is literally more relaxing than inhalation. That is how we are wired.
Whenever you inhale, you turn on the sympathetic nervous system slightly, minutely speeding up your heart. And when you exhale, the parasympathetic half turns on, activating your vagus nerve in order to slow things down .
Robert M Sapolsky, Why Zebras Dont Get Ulcers, 2004, p. 48.
You could make a simple change to the box breathing method described above: instead of holding after inhalation, you can distribute the breaths around the sides of the box like this: breathe in, breathe out, breathe out, hold it out.
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