Most people associate joint pain with getting older and injuries from sports or exercise. Therefore it can be a bit surprising that joint pain may have a link to your mental health. Joint pain can actually be a complex symptom of anxiety. Anxiety can physically impact the body, enough in some cases that it can alter a person’s day to day movements. To explain exactly how anxiety induces joint pain we’ve detailed 5 ways below.
1. Stress inflammation
One of the most common issues inside the body that is caused from stress is inflammation. Due to the fact that anxiety can increase long term stress, the risk of of inflammation is high. This inflammation can cause pain and swelling in your joints, affecting your every day movements.
2. Altered Movements
Anxiety, especially panic attacks, can change the way you move, sit, and act. Shaking your leg or sitting in a different way that is more comfortable for you could change your normal movements. Additionally, anxiety can cause you to exercise less, cross your legs more than usual, or lay down more, things that can cause their own joint pain. Anytime new behaviors and movements change in a way your body isn’t used it, it can lead to unexpected joint pain.
3. Muscle Tension
Anxiety also causes muscle tension which can lead to stiffness. Stiff muscles cause your joints to work harder, leading to increased inflammation and discomfort. Muscle tension itself can also put direct strain on the joints in its own way, resulting in pain.
4. Perceived Pain
Healthy people who don’t normally experience joint pain can find their joints bothering them on any given day. It may increase or decrease based on the way you sleep, the way you are sitting, exercise levels etc. When anxiety comes into play, you are much more likely to experience pain in an exaggerated way. Ignoring it may not be an option and could perpetuate your anxiety. Often times people with anxiety have the same aches and pains as others, but cannot focus their attention on something else, making it much more painful.
5. Immune System Dysfunction
It’s also well known that anxiety and stress directly affect your immune system. A weakened immune system can lead to feelings of pressure and distress. If you catch a cold or flu, aches and pains in the joints will become more prevalent. This discomfort could also cause more anxiety and the unfortunate cycle will continue.
Joint pain, inflammation, and discomfort can be quite complex, and the reality is, the relationship between anxiety and your joint pain may not be as simple as what’s listed above. Stress and anxiety have the ability to affect nutrition, hormones, and organ function; everything that is involved with the way the body works is affected. Dealing with the double case of anxiety and joint pain, it is equally as important to reduce your anxiety as it is to minimize pain levels. First seeing a doctor is necessary to rule out any other possible medical conditions. Next, it’s a good idea to evaluate your diet and your use of stress reducing exercises. A way to deal directly with your joint pain is to add a daily joint supplement to your diet. To find out more about which type of supplement is best for you, download our free eBook How To Choose The Right Joint Supplement.