Is there a Connection Between Chronic Pain and Anxiety?

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While it is very true that anxiety is a mental health condition, it does present with several physical symptoms. Most people are aware of the muscle tension and nausea that can be caused by anxiety.

However, very few know that anxiety can actually contribute to, or even cause, chronic pain.

Following is a list of some of the types of pain you may experience as a result of your anxiety and some tips on what you can do to reduce it.

Before we get started, you should understand that pan and anxiety is a vicious circle- pain can cause anxiety, and anxiety can cause pain- so it is very important that you speak with your physician on how you can get it under control.

Pain = Anxiety Relationship

Pain is one of those conditions that very few doctors will turn a blind eye to, and if you’re experiencing pain, it is very important that you speak with your physician about it as soon as possible. As already mentioned, it is a cycle- both contribute to each other.

Many studies have revealed that those who live with chronic pain will quite often develop anxiety disorders due to the stress that the pain is putting on their body. The anxiety might even last long after you have gotten your pain under control.

Anxiety and Hypersensitivity

In addition to contributing to or causing chronic pain, anxiety can also make a person hypersensitive to pain, meaning that they are so on edge regarding their health that they pay attention to even the mildest of pains that their body experiences.

When you’re focused on a specific type of pain- it’s not uncommon for that pain to feel even worse than it really is.

Being hypersensitive can make it much more difficult for you to be able to tell the difference between a normal pain- such as those of aging- and pain that indicates something is wrong.

This is why it is a great idea to see your physician- despite the possibility that you have some anxiety.

Types of Anxiety Pain

Following is a list of some of the various types of anxiety pains- keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. Anxiety can cause all kinds of physical symptoms, which are different for different people.

You may also notice that it results in changes in your hormones, and possibly even some mild damage to your organs which can result in pain in their own ways. This list includes the most common types of pain that come along with anxiety.

Muscle Pain

Muscle pain is the most common type of pain– it results from muscle tension, which puts strain on the muscles and leads to mild- and even severe- pain. Additionally, how you adjust to the muscle tension can result in pain. Sometimes, when people are feeling anxious, they sit awkwardly or tend to slouch more.

Chest Pains

Anxiety can cause hyperventilation, when ends up resulting in chest pains. Chest pains can be a pretty scary symptom of anxiety and often creates more anxiety. Hyperventilation and chest pains are a primary cause and symptom of a panic attack, which can feel a lot like a heart attack.


Stress and anxiety can also contribute to and even cause headaches. These are not just your typical tension headaches either.  Most commonly, the pain will be centered around the temple area, and some individuals may even have severe migraines, which affect other areas of the brain.

Is there a Connection Between Chronic Pain and Anxiety

Joint Pain

Researchers have not been able to pinpoint the relationship between anxiety and joint pain. However, it most likely is related to a combination of hypersensitivity, inflammation, and even behavioral/physical adjustments that you make when you’re experiencing anxiety. Joint pain can be a very stressful symptom of anxiety, but in most cases, the pain is manageable.

Tingle Pain

In addition to leading to chest pains, anxiety and hyperventilation can cause tingling of the hands and feet- as well as other parts of the body.

Basically, it’s the same feeling you get when a nerve that has fallen asleep is waking up. However, this tingling is accompanied by pain and/or burning. While it’s not really clear exactly what makes this different for some than others, it can be pretty prominent.

Stomach Pain

Anxiety can also lead to stomach pain. This is usually due to indigestion, since indigestion can result in gas and bloating that results in generalized pains. In some cases, individuals have reported that hyperventilation causes them to feel bloated, which leads to stomach pains.

Eye Pain

This is a less common, but still widespread symptom of anxiety. As with some of the other symptoms of anxiety, the cause of the eye pain isn’t real clear.

However, it is true that the muscles around your eye might strain when you’re stressed, and your pupils dilate when you’re anxious. This could result in pain due to eye strain and light.

Back/Shoulder Pain

Back and shoulder pain are very common with anxiety. Just as with other types of pain, these are basically due to muscle tension. However, there could be some other factors involved, such as how you sleep when you’re experiencing anxiety and the amount of stretching you take part in that can cause these pains.

Throat Pain

Throat pain is another type of pain that could occur with anxiety. Anxiety does not directly cause the throat pain, but can cause some changes in stomach acid, that can result in acid reflux or even a coughing habit which irritates the throat and therefore, causes throat pain.

The above is just a sampling of the pains that can be caused by anxiety. It is not an exhaustive list. There are others such as pains in the arms, legs, or testicles and others, which can actually cause their own anxiety as the individual tries to deal with the pain in their daily life.

Overcoming Pain Related to Anxiety

You are probably already aware that all pains have their very own symptoms and own way of affecting your body. So, before you can cope with the pain, you must understand more about it. Of course, the best way to overcome pain caused by anxiety is to learn to cope with the anxiety itself.

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