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How Anxiety and Muscle Pain Relate

Anxiety affects every part of your body. It's not just mental - it can cause very significant physical symptoms and reactions that can drastically change the comfort in which you live your life.

It should come as no surprise that anxiety can be incredibly distressing. But what you may not know is that anxiety can also cause physical reactions that sideline you from the things you love. One example of this type of response is muscle pain, which affects many people with anxiety and can, in some ways, lead to further anxiety.

Muscle Pain = Anxiety?

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Muscle Pain is a Complicated Issue

So many different issues can cause muscle pain that narrowing it down to anxiety or anything else is difficult. But there's no denying that anxiety can have a very clear effect on your muscles. See a doctor, and make sure you take my anxiety test to learn more about your specific anxiety symptoms.

Muscle pain is a broad term and has an equally broad number of causes - even from anxiety. Just a small sample of the links between anxiety and muscle pain include:

  • Muscle Tension The most common cause of muscle discomfort from anxiety is tension. Muscle tension is one of the most common anxiety symptoms, occurring whenever you're experiencing stress. Tension puts strain on your muscles and hardens them, which over time can cause your muscles to experience both dull and sharp pains.
  • Stress Adjustments In ways you may not realize, anxiety may also change the way you sit, the way you stand, how often you stretch, and more. It's not uncommon for those with anxiety to be constantly moving or acting differently than they used to in minor ways they don't even realize - from slouching to shifting to ticks, and more. These adjustments may lead to their own muscle stress, which in turn can cause muscle pain.
  • Notice All Pain Muscle pain is also a common problem that affects everyone - including healthy people. Most people can ignore the pains because they don't cause concern, but those with anxiety are more prone to noticing all types of pain and experiencing it more strongly because their minds tend to focus on negative feelings. This is known as "hypersensitivity," and it is very common in those with anxiety disorders.
  • Nutrition, Exercise, and Hydration When you have anxiety, you also tend to be more prone to exercising less, eating poorly, and improperly hydrating. All of those can lead to further anxiety, and all of those can lead to muscle pains. Eating healthier, exercising, and drinking more water is an easy fix, but may not cure it all the way.

Those are just a few of the potential reasons that anxiety and muscle pain are related. Some people also find that their hyperventilation (a symptom of panic attacks) causes them to hyperventilate. Others find that they toss and turn at night or sleep in uncomfortable positions because of their anxiety. There are a lot of different causes that are either linked directly to anxiety or occur because of anxiety symptoms.

Checking On Your Health - Living With Muscle Pain

Your muscles represent a significant portion of your body, and that means that there are a lot of different physical issues that can cause muscle pain. If you haven't been to the doctor for a while and your pain is significant enough that you can't seem to move, it's never a bad plan to visit. Remember, aging itself can cause muscle pain as well, so there may be a perfectly understandable cause that is simply something you hadn't considered before.

For you to overcome your own muscle pain, you need to react to that pain the same way that you would react to muscle pain caused by exercise, exertion, or even sleeping wrong:

  • Stretch often and make sure you're moving around.
  • Hydrate and eat healthy to nourish the muscles.
  • Exercise when you can so as to keep your muscles loose.
  • Get plenty of rest and make sure you're sitting and standing with good posture.

You should also consider massages and other calming ways to work out muscles. Anxiety may cause muscle pain, but the pains still relate directly to the same issues that cause muscle pain and discomfort in those without anxiety.

However, if you want to cure your muscle discomfort of anxiety so that it never comes back, you need to target your anxiety directly.

I've worked with thousands of people whose anxiety was causing their muscle pain. You should start with my free 7-minute anxiety test. The test was created to give you more information about your anxiety based on your symptoms and recommend how to treat it.

Start the test here.

Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Dec 15, 2017.

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