Can Anxiety Cause Muscle Pain?

The connection between mind and body is not as mystical as many might think. Just like when it hurts us somewhere we may be angry or sad because of it, the reverse relationship also exists.

Our emotional state influences the severity and amount of physical symptoms we may experience, whether or not they are related to actual physical illness. Depression, stress and especially anxiety can worsen our physical health.

Of all the illnesses we can feel, Can Anxiety Cause Muscle Pain? Below we will see the answer.

    Can High Levels of Anxiety Cause Muscle Pain?

    The mind and the body are known to be connected in two directions. Mental and physical health influence each other, and when one is impaired, it’s only a matter of time before the other is harmed as well, even though we don’t know it. For example, when we break a leg the pain will produce sadness, nervousness and anger and even if we have already cast a cast it will inevitably make us frustrated that we cannot walk as usual for a long time. .

    The reverse relationship also exists. If our mood is altered, our physical health will be affected sooner or later. If we are depressed or worried, our physical health will suffer, mainly by weakening the immune system, which makes us more likely to get sick. By having a low mood, our body also sees its ability to respond to pathogens reduced.

    But while depression is a relatively common problem, it is not as much as anxiety. Anxiety can be defined as a mental state in which the person experiences great restlessness, intense excitement, and extreme insecurity. It is a response mechanism of the body to a situation perceived as dangerous to both physical and mental integrity, preparing us to emit flight or fight behavior.

    Anxiety is an innate response that we cannot get rid of, nor should it be pathologized to the minimum that appears. However, at high levels it induces problems in the body, becoming a pathology damaging both our mental and physical health. In anxiety disorders, this emotion, far from activating us to face a threat that can hurt us, becomes a threat in itself.

    Psychosomatization, anxiety and muscle pain

    Psychosomatic illnesses are physical ailments the cause of which is related to a psychological problem. It is estimated that almost 12% of the European population suffers from this type of discomfort and it has been hypothesized that a quarter of people who attend primary care, suffering from muscle pain and other physical ailments, have their real problem in mind. Considering the frequency of anxiety, it is not surprising that this is the main psychological problem behind these cases.

    A person is considered to have somatization when they have one or more physical symptoms and, after having undergone a medical examination, these symptoms cannot be explained by a known medical condition or, if applicable, the symptoms and symptoms. Its consequences are too serious. compared to a typical picture of this disease. The severity of the symptoms and the uncertainty of not knowing where they came from cause great discomfort in different areas of their life.

    Muscle pain is a very common problem in the population. In most cases where the cause is psychological, the affected people go to medical services several times. Due to the saturation of medical services, it is already difficult to diagnose muscle pain caused by anxiety at first, professionals prescribe pain relievers, focusing only on the physical symptoms of the disease.

    When we say that muscle pain can be caused by anxiety, we are not saying that the person necessarily has a childhood trauma or an anxiety disorder, which produced their physical problem. Perfectly, this person can suffer from anxiety on a daily basis without even realizing it. She dives into her daily life and analyzes how her daily life we ​​can see that she experiences small episodes of anxiety which, although seemingly harmless and tiny, can psychosomatize in back pain.

    At other times, doctors, seeing that they cannot find a physical cause to explain these pains, they understand that there could be an anxiety problem behind them and they know that the patient must be referred to a psychologist.. The problem is that often the same patients deny having anxiety issues, seeing it either as a misdiagnosis by a doctor or not fully understanding what the relationship may be. anxiety and muscle pain.

      Why don’t we go to the psychologist when we have back pain?

      This question may seem very obvious at first. Logic leads us to think that if we have back pain, it must be due, of necessity, to a physical problem. Human beings, when faced with a problem, tend to seek solutions that share their very nature, and in the case of physical health, this is very evident. If we have muscle problems, we look for a doctor who specializes in this type of pain, and if we have stomach problems, we specialize in the digestive tract.

      We like to think that a problem will be solved with something related to it. That is why, when going to a doctor, the professional tells the patient that maybe his problem is due to a psychological problem, the person is somewhat skeptical. “How can a psychologist fix my back pain? Surely it isn’t due to a lump or bad posture? What is it going to have to do with the anguish that my back is hurting ? ” Patient.

      Although a lot of progress has been made in getting the public to stop seeing the psychologist as the one who treats “crazy” people, there are many people who have very much internalized the idea that going to one of them. is to confirm that they are themselves. out of their mind. “Because they are afraid that the psychologist will find something for them that they do not want to know, many of these patients resort to alternative therapies, being wary of doctors and fearful of psychologists, who think they will not do much. thing to calm their crippling muscle pain.

      so it is not uncommon to find hundreds of people with muscle soreness who claim to have tried everything: Acupuncture, Bach flowers, homeopathy, osteopathy, reiki, meditation, all kinds of massages … They believe that these practices are less invasive than conventional medicine and more effective than psychology. Conventional medicine and psychology are based on scientifically proven methods, and although their degree of intervention is more invasive than many of these practices, they are also much more effective.

      Further, as a critique of all of these practices, in most cases pseudoscientific, is that although they say they are moving away from mainstream medicine, they agree with this in that they focus on physical symptoms, not the underlying psychological issues. muscle aches. Conventional medicine does this by prescribing sedatives, anxiolytics, or other pain-focused substances, while the aforementioned practices do this with techniques that do absolutely nothing (eg, Reiki).

      Currently, behavioral medicine and health psychology know and try to deepen the body-mind relationship. That is why they treat the individual from a broader perspective, taking into account how biological, psychological and social factors influence the onset, maintenance and resolution of all types of physical problems.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Stein MB et al. (2017) Treating Anxiety in 2017: Optimizing Care to Improve Outcomes. JAMA; 318: 236.
      • Andrews, G. (2003). Treatment of Anxiety Disorders: Clinician’s Guides and Patient Manuals (2nd ed.). Cambridge, UK; New York, New York: Cambridge University Press.
      • Antony, MM, Orsillo, SM, Roemer, L. and Association for the Advancement of Behavioral Therapy. (2001). Physician’s Guide to Empirical Measures of Anxiety. New York: Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers.
      • Bobes García, J. (2001). Anxiety disorders and depressive disorders in primary care. Barcelona, ​​etc .: Masson.
      • Brinkerhoff, S. (2004). Therapy pharmacological and anxiety disorders. Philadelphia: Mason Crest Publishers.
      • Cano-Vindel, A. and Miguel-Tobal, JJ (1990). Differences between normal and psychosomatic subjects in the pattern of anxiety responses to different types of anxiety situations. / Differences between healthy and psychosomatic subjects in the pattern of responses to anxiety in different types of situations. In COP (Ed.), Psychology and Health: Health Psychology (pp. 62-67). Madrid: Official College of Psychologists (COP)

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