Physical Symptoms

What Does it Mean When Anxiety Strikes Bone?

Micah Abraham, BSc

Written by

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated October 10th, 2020

What Does it Mean When Anxiety Strikes Bone?

Bone pain is a type of bodily pain capable of causing you more anxiety than your average ache. This is primarily due to the fact that a quick Google search of bone pain brings up frightening diagnoses of cancer and bone infection. As these are possible causes of bone pain, along with several others, it is easy to let the anxiety that comes from not knowing aggravate your physical and mental health, leaving you worse off than you already are.

This article will discuss the potential causes of bone pain, as well as the problems that bone pain anxiety may be causing in your life and how to overcome them.

Possible Causes of Bone Pain

If you are experiencing bone pain, it is important to address the problem promptly. You need to control your anxiety so that your bone pain decreases and your quality of life improves.

While bone pain has been linked to some scary conditions, including:

  • Cancer
  • Infection
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Overuse
  • Fracture

It's important to note that bone pain itself can be hard to diagnose. You may be experiencing muscle pain, a common symptom of anxiety and other health conditions. Furthermore, anxiety itself can cause pain. If you know you have anxiety, you may be experiencing issue related to your anxiety, not necessarily the pain itself.

While it is important to visit a doctor, especially if the pain is severe, you also need to make sure that you're addressing your anxiety no matter what, because your anxiety may be contributing to the pain.

Bone Pain and More Anxiety

In addition, it's not uncommon for bone pain itself to cause more anxiety, which may be a significant problem. While the above health conditions are not always likely, you also don't want to avoid treatment simply because you're afraid of the diagnosis.

Though these potential causes of bone pain sound disturbing, each of them is treatable, even if you've been experiencing the pain for an extended period of time. Reasons why your anxiety may be preventing you from addressing your bone pain and causing you other serious problems are outlined below, as well as how to diminish your bone pain-related anxiety.

Bone Pain Anxiety Problems

A variety of personal and social problems can arise for people who experience persistent anxiety about bone pain. These may include:

  • Anxiety Attacks If you are someone with a preexisting anxiety condition, bone pain can cause the kinds of escalating negative thoughts that can lead to anxiety or panic attacks. Panic attacks are often triggered by health fears, and any time you feel that something may be affecting your bone health, you may be overwhelmed and trigger an attack.
  • Refusing to See a Doctor Some people may become fixated on the possibility that their bone pain could mean cancer and perhaps a risk of dying. Hoping to avoid having their fears confirmed, they choose to avoid going to a doctor in spite of the chance that a doctor's diagnosis might assuage their fears rather than confirm them. This type of anxiety reaction keeps the person from being treated by a professional, causing them to remain in physical pain and psychological distress. Both of these conditions may worsen if they become convinced that their illness is spreading while they grapple with an inability to motivate themselves to see a doctor and find out for certain.
  • Rash Decisions People who suffer from anxiety due to bone pain may make any number of irrational decisions based on their perceived ill health, which include refusing to see a doctor but also may include cutting off contact with friends and family, engaging in high risk behaviors due to a perception of having nothing to lose, or trying to give away money and possessions that they no longer need. These actions can lead to loneliness, injury, and the inability to care for oneself.
  • Fatalistic Attitude and Depression Anxiety about bone pain possibly being linked to cancer or an incurable disease can result in a fatalistic attitude and depression. Depression can lead to a variety of new problems, from drug and/or alcohol dependence to suicidal tendencies. Fears about the mental strain of battling a serious illness and about the fate of loved ones if the illness proves fatal can drive a person to escape the dread in any way they can, which are usually helpful as short term fixes but highly detrimental in the long term.

Because it is important to prevent anxiety from making the situation worse when you are already experiencing physical pain, the following section will discuss how to control your bone pain anxiety.

Controlling Bone Pain Anxiety

If bone pain anxiety is keeping you from living your life in a healthy and safe manner, consider taking the following steps towards taking back control over your life.

  • Talk To Someone If the anxiety surrounding your bone pain is severe enough that you feel unable to seek medical help from a doctor, it may be useful for you to seek mental help instead and to talk about your fears with someone who can help prepare you to face them. Talking with a therapist can also be a good way to reduce panic attacks, by committing yourself to learning healthier and more positive ways of thinking.
  • Be Gentle With Yourself Focus on finding out what is physically wrong and dealing with it rather than pursuing distractions that may make you feel physically worse, psychologically worse, or both. In contrast, you shouldn't hole up and treat yourself as an invalid unless you have been instructed to do so by a doctor. Take it easy and think twice about any extreme impulses you may have due to anxiety. Writing them down along with the reasons why they would be unhelpful may be useful in keeping yourself in touch with reality.
  • Stay In Touch With Others Being able to talk with friends and family about what you are going through when it comes to pain and anxiety is very important for your mental health. Not only can family and friends provide a more positive perspective than your own anxious one, but they can also support you in seeking help or engaging in self-help. Simply telling them you are feeling extra emotional or under the weather lately can help signal to them that they need to be especially gentle with you until your pain and anxiety have had a chance to abate.
  • Don't Indulge Your Pain Though temporary pain relievers such as alcohol and drugs may seem to be what you pain requires, they will only cause you more pain and anxiety in the long run through their addictive qualities, detrimental physical effects, and promotion of altered states in which you are more likely to do yourself further harm. These are especially high risk indulgences if your bone pain is related to bone damage such as a fracture or osteoporosis. You should focus on curing your pain-related anxiety in the long term, rather than the short term.

Bone pain anxiety should be taken seriously. However, taking constructive action to decrease your fears rather than obsessing over them or adopting destructive behavior is the key to maintaining a healthy body and mind.

Questions? Comments?

Do you have a specific question that this article didn’t answered? Send us a message and we’ll answer it for you!

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Question:

Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient

Answer:

You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

Ask Doctor a Question

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