Joint pain is typically associated with getting older or sports injuries. However, when it comes to certain cases of joint pain, there is much more than meets the eye. Anxiety can come with a whole host of unusual symptoms, and joint pain is among them. Read on to learn more about how the two conditions are connected, and what you can do to help both.
It is possible to guess whether your joint pain is coming from anxiety, or if it has a true physical cause. Keep a journal and monitor your pain. Does it become worse during stressful situations? Does it migrate from one part of your body to another, or does it stay stagnant? If you have a pain that migrates and worsens during periods of stress, there is a good chance that your pain stems from anxiety. However, it’s very important that you pay a visit to your family practitioner to rule out any other possible causes.
Other possible causes of anxiety include arthritis, autoimmune disease, as well as a variety of other diseases. Your doctor will run a series of tests to rule out other underlying health conditions, and follow up with an appropriate treatment for whatever your problem may be.
If your doctor cannot find any physical symptoms, it’s time to focus on your anxiety. Anxiety can really tighten up your muscles and joints, so it’s no wonder that it often leads to pain and soreness. If you truly want to achieve relief, you’re going to have to make some important changes in your life.
To address both your anxiety and your joint soreness, you can begin by scheduling a massage with a certified practitioner. A good massage will get your mind and body in a relaxed condition, putting you in just the right place to begin your new anti-anxiety regimen. A Swedish massage is most likely your best bet, as it is gentle and relaxing. However, many anxiety sufferers suffer from a build-up of trigger points in their muscles, most commonly known as knots. If this is the case, a deep tissue massage that will work the muscle at a deeper level might be in order. Your massage therapist will point you in the right direction and help you find a massage that’s right for you.
Next, try to incorporate yoga into your lifestyle. There are many types of yoga out there, so look for a gym or studio that offers a beginner’s class. Yoga can be very beneficial for muscle and joint pain, as many of its pose will stretch and lengthen them. Yoga is also wonderful for treating anxiety as it increases the production of GABA in the brain, a chemical that is often targeted by anti-anxiety medications. Then, try to engage in more cardiovascular exercise. If you haven’t worked out in a long time, try something as simple as a 15-minute walk every day. You can gradually build up the length and intensity of your workouts over time, and experiment with some new activities that will get your heart rate up.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, albeit more expensive than other methods, is another great way to manage anxiety. This type of therapy will teach you how to identify distortions in your thinking that lead to anxiety, such as catastrophizing, which is basically “making a mountain out of a molehill.” Then, you will how to confront those unrealistic fears. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, unlike other forms of therapy, is designed to be used in the short-term, with the goal of the patient learning to become his or her own therapist.
“Chronic Pain.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. <http://www.adaa.org> 2 Jan 2013.