The Hidden Culprit Behind Your Pain: Anxiety's Impact on Your Body

Let's Move Mindfully

Anxiety can have a profound effect on our physical and emotional health, and one area where this connection is particularly strong is with pain perception. In this article, we'll explore how anxiety affects pain perception, the different types of pain anxiety can cause or exacerbate, and strategies for managing anxiety-related pain.
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How Anxiety Affects Pain Perception

When we experience anxiety, our bodies release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can affect the way we perceive pain. These hormones can lower our pain threshold, meaning we are more likely to feel pain and experience it as more intense. In addition, anxiety can cause muscle tension, which can lead to pain in the neck, shoulders, and back.

Types of Pain Anxiety Can Cause or Exacerbate

Anxiety can cause or exacerbate a range of physical and psychological pain, including:

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Back pain
  • Joint pain
  • Stomach pain and digestive issues
  • Chest pain
  • Pelvic pain

Strategies for Managing Anxiety-Related Pain

When it comes to managing anxiety-related pain, there are a number of strategies you can try. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation can all help reduce anxiety and ease pain.
  2. Stay active: Regular exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve your mood, which can in turn help ease pain. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week.
  3. Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can make anxiety and pain worse, so it's important to prioritize getting enough restful sleep each night.
  4. Seek professional help: If anxiety and pain are interfering with your daily life, don't hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional. Therapy, medication, or a combination of both may be necessary to manage your symptoms.
  5. Join a support group: Talking to others who are dealing with similar issues can be incredibly helpful in managing anxiety-related pain. Look for support groups in your area or online.
  6. Try alternative therapies: Acupuncture, massage, and other alternative therapies may help reduce anxiety and relieve pain.
  7. Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself both physically and mentally is key to managing anxiety and pain. Make time for activities you enjoy, eat a healthy diet, and prioritize relaxation.

Remember, managing anxiety-related pain is often a process of trial and error. It may take some time to find the right combination of strategies that work for you, but with persistence and support, you can learn to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.


Anxiety can have a significant impact on our pain perception, causing pain to be felt more intensely and frequently. The key to managing anxiety-related pain is to address both the anxiety and the pain itself through a combination of relaxation techniques, exercise, therapy, medications, and alternative therapies. By taking a holistic approach to managing anxiety and pain, individuals can find relief and improve their overall well-being.

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Struggling with pain? Check out "Let's Move Mindfully", a new blog by an osteopathic physician and mom. Learn how to manage pain with mindfulness, emotional processing, and intentional movement. Get practical tips to improve your physical and emotion health.

Napa, CA

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