One of the most important parts of living is mobility. You need to be able to get up and move around as needed, without experiencing any pain, discomfort, or issues.
So when you have joint problems, that can make a living much harder, and unfortunately, some of those joint problems may be caused by another disorder that affects life - anxiety.
Joint Problems = Anxiety?
Joint problems are often a normal part of aging, but when doctors have ruled out a physical cause, it may be time to find out more about whether your anxiety may be creating these joint issues. Find out more about anxiety and how to cure it with my free 7-minute anxiety test.
How Anxiety Leads to Joint Problems
Most people associate hundreds of different symptoms with anxiety, but joint discomfort is rarely at the top of the list. That's because while joint issues may be related to anxiety, they're rarely the primary symptom. Make sure you've taken my anxiety test to get a better idea of what your symptoms say about you.
But there is some evidence that anxiety can create or contribute to joint problems, and that's why if your doctor has ruled out other joint issues or if you simply cannot seem to explain why these joint problems occur, one of the possible causes may be anxiety.
Anxiety can cause joint problems in a variety of ways. A small sample of these includes:
- Changes in Behavior - Interestingly, most joint problems directly related to anxiety aren't caused by problems directly to your joints. They're caused by your behaviors. Those with anxiety tend to change the way they walk, the way they sit, the way they stand, and so on. They even do those with greater frequency. Your joints get used to the activities that you do. Anything that changes your behaviors can cause strain on the joint, and possibly lead to joint pain.
- Immune System Malfunction The joints are extremely affected by the immune system. Anxiety weakens and damages the immune system, especially chronic anxiety. So it's possible that stress is causing the immune system to allow joint inflammation. Over time, joint inflammation can often lead to anxiety.
- Nutrition Anxiety can affect nutrition in two ways. The simplest is eating habits - many people with anxiety seem to change their eating habits in a way that is not ideal for their joints. But beyond that, anxiety can affect the flora in the digestive system as well, which may cause certain nutrients to become imbalanced or not fully digest into your body.
- Muscle Strain/Tension
- One thing that anxiety and stress are known to create is muscle tension. Muscle tension can lead to changes in behaviors, leading to joint damage as mentioned above. They may also strain joints themselves, possibly contributing to pressure on the joints. Both of these issues could conceivably contribute to an increase in anxiety.
These are some of the changes that take place in your body that could conceivably lead to joint problems. Stress also causes a host of unusual reactions that occur on an individual level, and it's possible that stress causes you to experience some other problem that affects your joints as well.
Anxiety and Increased Sensitivity
Another issue that may play a role is hypersensitivity. Anxiety - especially severe anxiety and health anxiety - tends to cause the human brain to focus heavily when it perceives a negative sensation in the body. When you focus that heavily on any sensation - whether it is pain, itching, aches, etc. - the sensation amplifies, and feels stronger than it would otherwise.
About joint problems, some degree of minor joint pain can happen all the time simply from sleeping awkwardly, exercising, sitting funny, or even just aging. Without anxiety, the pain may be so minor that you ignore it completely. But when you become hypersensitive, you will always notice the pain, and it will always feel stronger and more painful than it might otherwise.
So keep in mind that not all joint problems are caused by anxiety. Some may instead be caused by simply a significant increase in sensitivity to the way your body feels.
Are There Solutions for Anxiety Joint Problems?
All joint problems from anxiety are not unlike other joint problems, with the exception of hypersensitivity. Hypersensitivity can be reduced by simply performing behaviors that distract you from focusing too much on the pain. Staying busy is also an important anxiety solution.
For other joint issues, you should first see a doctor to get clearance for your joints. Don't forget that joint problems are somewhat natural as a person ages, so it's important to first rule out any potential damage and get permission to perform regular activities as needed.
Once you do, make sure you:
- Get Up and Active Not only is exercise a tool that is known to improve anxiety, it's also an important part of dealing with joint discomfort. Make sure you're not always sitting or laying down, because uncomfortable positions may increase joint discomfort.
- Stretch Often Similarly, when you are sitting down for long periods of time, make sure you're stretching and sitting with good posture. Anything you can do to decrease pain on your joints is important for overcoming anxiety joint pain since all joint problems tend to be cumulative.
- Nutrition/Water Make sure that you're also strongly considering the nutrition your body needs to maintain your joints. Whether that's drinking more water or ingesting glutamine supplements, you need to keep your joints as healthy as possible while you deal with your anxiety.
If your joint problems are caused specifically by anxiety, then the solution is to make sure that you're working on your anxiety. The above tips will help, but without subsequent anxiety reduction, they're only going to be temporary.
I've worked with many anxiety sufferers that had severe joint pain. Make sure you start with my free 7-minute anxiety test. The test is a valuable way to ensure that you're effectively treating your anxiety.
Start the test here, now.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Dec 04, 2017.