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.
Fatigue Or Low Energy
While short-term stress can give you an energy boost, long-term exposure to stress wears out your body and can drain you of energy. If stress also creates problems with your normal sleep cycle, then this problem can be compounded. Unfortunately, fatigue can cause you to fall behind on responsibilities, make it harder for you to find the motivation to exercise, and encourage you to overeat, which in turn can make you feel more stressed. Like anxiety, fatigue and stress can also create an unpleasant feedback loop.
How Does Stress Cause Joint Pain
You may develop anxiety joint pain due to many different causes. Here are some explanations of how stress causes joint pain.
- Altered Movement: Panic or anxiety attacks can change the way you sit, move, and act. Overtime, it can lead to functional disabilities in certain areas of your body. It may become difficult for you to exercise. You may be spending more time resting, which in turn aggravates your anxiety and even causes other complications, including joint pain.
- Stress Inflammation: When you have inflammation in the body, you are likely to experience joint pain along with many other issues. Stress can produce an inflammatory response in your body that can cause your joints to swell and become less mobile. The stiffness can make it difficult to move and do your day-to-day tasks.
- Immune System Dysfunction: Stress and joint pain are linked because stress has a direct effect on your immune system, and a weakened immune system can make you feel joint pressure and distress.
- Muscular Tension: You develop muscular tension when you are under stress for a long time. This makes your muscles become stiff and compels your joints to work harder. Pushing your joints too hard can cause inflammation and further discomfort.
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The Effect Of Stress On Muscles
When we feel stressed out, our muscles react by suddenly tensing up. This is our bodies natural instinct were trying to protect ourselves against pain or injury, even though the stress often only stems from our minds. The resulting tension wont leave the muscles until the stress passes.
If the muscles remain tense for long periods of time, the body may react in other, more extreme ways. For instance, you may start to experience migraines or chronic neck and shoulder pain. Over time, this pain can even develop into musculoskeletal disorders.
When people struggle to manage their stress on a day-to-day basis, theyll often experience chronic muscle pain, making it difficult to get through the day comfortably.
Chronic Stress And Long
Aches and pains are common symptoms of stress, however, ongoing pain or stiffness may be a sign of a more serious problem.
A 2018 study published by PubMed revealed Stress-related disorders were significantly associated with risk of subsequent autoimmune disease.
Autoimmune diseases cause your immune system to produce antibodies which attack and damage the bodys healthy tissue instead of fighting infection. In certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, the antibodies attach to connective tissue within the joints leading to pain, stiffness, swelling, andwithout treatmentpotentially permanent joint damage.
Autoimmune diseases are often incurable however, early intervention and treatment can help prevent further damage and joint deterioration.
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See A Counselor Or Therapist
Negative thoughts can leave you overwhelmed and can affect your thinking process.
When chronic stress starts to play with your mental health, its time to see a counselor and seek professional help.
What causes stress doesnt matter as much as how you deal with it.
Modern stressors like challenging relationships, financial issues, and exaggerated body goals are common these days.
But if you let these stressors take a toll on your body and mind, it can negatively impact you.
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Beginning a daily program of walking can help to mobilize the muscles and is the best way to stimulate the lymph system to do its job and oxygenate injured muscles. The International Association for the Study of Pain concluded that acupuncture is also effective in long-term chronic pain reductions related to musculoskeletal pain.
Although one might not be aware of the lingering effect of the trauma, or believe that the traumatic event has been put behind them, the body could be clinging to unresolved issues. Relevant psychotherapy can help to resolve the physical problems.
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How Anxiety Causes Back Pain: And How To Stop It
- Anxiety, especially chronic anxiety, commonly leads to back pain
- Muscle tension may be the primary cause, but there are other supplementary anxiety symptoms that could also cause back pain
- Simple lifestyle changes can reduce some of the back pain
- One simple change: posture, which can be affected by anxiety in several ways
- Eliminating back pain from anxiety, specifically, traditionally requires anxiety treatments
How Do You Get Rid Of Aches And Pains
A healthy diet full of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, a gentle exercise regime and stretching can all help to reduce aches and pains. On top of these lifestyle changes, a herbal remedy may also be beneficial.
Our Atrosan Devils Claw Tablets help to relieve muscle and joint pain, as well as rheumatic pain, backache and lumbago. They can be used with other painkilling medications but if symptoms fail to improve after 8 weeks of using the product you should consult your doctor about your symptoms.
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Other Common Causes Of Aches And Pains
As I discuss in my blog Why does my body ache? there are a number of things that can cause discomfort in the muscles and joints. Conditions such as arthritis, for example, can result in stiffness and pain, especially around the wrist and finger joints.
On occasion exercise also has a part to play in aches in pains. Doing too much when the body isnt used to it can result in Delayed Onset Muscle Syndrome whereby the muscles become sore and stiff. Too little exercise can also contribute to pain though as this does not allow for good circulation. If the muscles fail to get a good supply of blood it may result in muscle tension or pain.
If you are worried about any prolonged pain in your muscles and joints it is worth having a chat with your doctor who will be able to work out the root of the problem. In the meantime though, I hope this information means you are better placed to tackle any stress that may be causing aches and pains.
Physical Symptoms Associated With Stress And Emotions
There can be short-term and moderate pain, but in some situations, there can even be severe and chronic pain.
Some specific events or stressors can make any person upset or anxious. The example in this regard is of the death in the family or because of job loss.
Such situations can release cortisolin your body, causing significant inflammation, increasing heart rate, and constrict blood vessels. Thus, these changes in your body can cause an extreme level of pain.
Furthermore, when any person experiences difficult emotional times, stress can indeed make the immune system weak. As a result, you can become more susceptible to colds, flu, and other kinds of infections.
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Stress can even make you eat a lot or drink too much and skip on your regular exercises.
Below is the list of some common physical symptoms related to stress:
- Stomach pain
- Rapid level of breathing
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When Stress Leads To Medical Emergencies Complete Care Is Here
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress is often the first step towards learning how to manage your stress and live a healthier and happier life.
However, if you or someone you love is not managing or has not managed their stress well, then its important to be aware stress can contribute to major health concerns. If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress, we encourage you to seek proactive help to reduce the likelihood of a stress-related health emergency.
In the event that you do need help, Complete Care is here to help. Our stand alone emergency room facilities are able to offer our patients with the same level of care as an emergency room attached to a hospital, but without the wait time. We are open 24/7 and are typically able to see walk-ins within a few minutes, not hours.
We take the stress out of emergency care. Visit your nearest Complete Care location today for quick, efficient, patient-centered care today.
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Other Ache And Pain Issues
It should also be noted that anxiety is an incredibly complex condition that causes various changes to the way your body operates. Some people experience throat pain. Others experience unusual nerve sensations in their legs. Others experience random cramping. Still others experience abdominal discomfort or shooting pains that have no apparent causes.
Only a doctor can diagnose where these pains came from. But there are countless examples of aches and pains that are the result of anxiety despite no apparent physical reason for them to occur.
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Physical Symptoms Can Be Your Bodys Way Of Letting You Know You Arent Coping With Stress Well Easy Stress Management May Help Patients Feel Better
Stress affects everyone. Some stress can be caused by good things in your life, such as an interesting project, a new baby, or an upcoming vacation. Other times, stress is caused by difficult situations, such as losing your job or getting divorced.
No matter what causes it, too much stress can wear you down. This makes you more likely to get sick and feel irritable or depressed. You may develop emotional symptoms or unexplained physical symptoms that dont seem to go away, such as:
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Shortness of breath
- Upset stomach
- Weight gain or loss
As a family doctor, I sometimes see patients whose physical symptoms are actually caused by stress. When I suspect that this is the case, I carefully review the patients medical history and perform a physical exam. I want to be sure that I rule out any other causes for the symptoms. In some cases, I may do the following:
- Order lab tests
- Order imaging tests
- Consult with a subspecialist, when appropriate
In addition to these steps, I try to understand what is going on in the patients life. Its helpful to ask whether the patient is dealing with challenges such as work pressures, relationship issues, teenage children, aging parents, or a loved ones illness.
Learn more about ways to manage your daily stress.
Muscle Tension And Body Aches
One of the bodys standard ways of reacting to stress is to tense up your muscles. It does this so that your body is more prepared to act and move quickly. While this is great in an emergency situation, chronic stress can lead to chronic muscle tension, which in turn can lead to chronic body aches. Most people experience this type of pain in their face, neck, and shoulders. As weve discussed, it can also manifest as chest and jaw pain.
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Immune And Reproductive Systems
Research has shown the negative effect stress can have on the immune system. In short bursts, the stress hormone cortisol can boost immunity by limiting inflammation, but over longer periods of time, too much cortisol can lead to more inflammation.
Stress can also affect the immune system because it can reduce the effectiveness of white blood cells, which fight off viruses and bacteria.
The release of stress hormones also impacts the reproductive system. Cortisol affects how much oestrogen and progesterone your body makes, which regulates your menstrual cycle. If you’re stressed and have increased levels of cortisol, it can lead to irregular periods.
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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Your Nerves May Be Over
Studies have also provided evidence that anxiety and nerve firings are related. Specifically, researchers believe that high anxiety may cause nerve firing to occur more often. This can make you feel tingling, burning, and other sensations that are also associated with nerve damage and neuropathy. Anxiety may also cause muscles to cramp up, which can also be related to nerve damage.
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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Body Aches And Pains Anxiety Symptoms
The higher the rating, the more likely it could be contributing to your anxiety symptoms, including body aches and pains.
This article explains the relationship between anxiety and body aches and pains.
Combining Psychotherapy And Drugs
Patients with anxiety or depression sometimes find that combining psychotherapy with medication offers the most complete relief. A randomized controlled trial, the Stepped Care for Affective Disorders and Musculoskeletal Pain study, suggests that a combination approach might also work for people suffering pain in addition to a psychiatric disorder.
The trial enrolled 250 patients with chronic pain in the lower back, hip, or knee. Participants also had at least moderate depression, as measured by a standard clinical instrument. One group was assigned to 12 weeks of antidepressant therapy followed by a 12-week pain self-management intervention based on principles of CBT. In the “usual care” group, which served as a control, researchers informed participants that they had depression and should seek advice or treatment. Results were considered significant if participants reported at least a 50% reduction in depression severity and at least a 30% reduction in pain. At the 12-month mark, both depression and pain were significantly reduced in 32 of 123 intervention patients , compared with 10 of 127 usual care participants .
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Stress Can Contribute To Dementia
Family issues, work pressure, and the stress to keep a balance between personal and professional life sums up the mid-life of every person these days.
A high level of mid-life stress can result in loss of memory in the later part of life.
In a study, women with mid-life stressors showed a 65% greater risk of developing dementia.
How To Deal With Stress
Some stressors like work pressure, traffic issues, and exam stress are part of a normal lifestyle. Moreover, this sort of stress keeps you motivated, alarmed, focused, and excited.
But when stress starts to take over your life, its time to take steps to manage it and keep yourself away from the many negative effects of stress.
Heres how to manage stress easily:
Heres a step-by-step breakdown of all these measures.
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Sore Muscles And Joint Pains
Stress can affect your musculoskeletal system. Muscle tensions are the bodys way to protect you from any injury. And continuous tension can lead to pain and body aches.
Tightness and soreness of muscles can give rise to arthritis symptoms and persistent pain in the back and shoulders can result in headaches and migraines.
Can Chronic Pain Cause Anxiety
Anxiety is caused by apprehensive behavior. In this regard, no, chronic pain doesnt cause anxiety.
However, worrying and fretting about chronic pain can create anxiety since worrying and fretting are examples of apprehensive behavior.
Unfortunately, worrying about chronic pain can create a vicious cycle where worry stresses the body, stress causes issues with chronic pain, chronic pain stresses the body, worrying about chronic pain stresses the body, and so on.
If you find yourself caught in this vicious cycle, we recommend connecting with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist to help you break this cycle.
Overcoming anxiety issues will eliminate its symptoms, including anxiety chronic pain.
For a more detailed explanation about anxiety symptoms including this one, why symptoms can persist long after the stress response has ended, common barriers to recovery and symptom elimination, and more recovery strategies and tips, we have many chapters that address this information in the Recovery Support area of our website.
For more information:
Return to our anxiety disorders signs and symptoms page.
anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Chronic Pain and Anxiety.
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