What you are experiencing is very real; never doubt that reality. Anxiety often results in pain in the arms. When there is pain in your arms or hands, it is easy to understand the phrase, “It sticks out like a sore thumb.” There is nothing more obvious when a thumb is sore than how many times a day we use it – Ouch! Each arm is made up of about twelve muscles. Every one of those twelve muscles is affected by tension from other parts of our body.1 It is no wonder that we are likely to have arm pain when we are in a state of panic or anxiety.
Knowing that information makes it easy to understand why relaxing your entire body can be such a great benefit when you are trying to reduce arm pain.2 Listening to relaxing music reduces anxiety. As your body relaxes from listening to music, your arm pain will most likely be less.3
The same is true for soaking in water that is a temperature you like, temperate or hot, and allowing your muscles to ease from anxiety tension. Some people find that swimming in comfortable water is a terrific way to reduce arm pain. The gentle movements of the undulating water as you move your arms along under the surface can be very calming. The movement also is a mild exercise that makes tension become eased and therefore, reduces the pain. Be careful; always get into water that is a comfortable temperate for you. If you get into water that is too cold, you can actually make the pain in your arms worse due to creating more tension from opposing the chill you feel.
Gentle exercise is a good way to overcome arm pain. Dancing like a Hawaiian dancer or ballet are both soothing movements that can be calming to arms that are in pain. Additionally, the soothing music from Hawaiian dancing or slow-paced ballet is emotionally relaxing for the anxiety.
Floating in a warm bath or hot tub has the effect of suspension. To be in a suspended state can induce a self-induced state of relaxation. The heat may feel very good on the sore arms and the quiet of having your ears down in the water can block out any distracting noises. The state of suspension can be calming for the anxiety at the same time so that an overall emotional state of peace is created.
Some people like to be hypnotized when they feel arm pain from anxiety. The nice advantage of going into a state of self-calming hypnosis is that your whole body is in a state much like a restful sleep. Although you may be sitting up, or lying on a couch, you are in a state when tension is non-existent. Ask your hypnotist to give you some visualization that you like. That might be sitting by a lake, or listening to a babbling brook, or birds’ singing. Then at home, anytime, you can bring back up that image and ease arm pain by reducing anxiety through a return to a state of hypnosis.
- SA Janssen, A Arntz, S Bouts, 1998. Anxiety and pain: epinephrine-induced hyperalgesia and attentional influences. Department of Medical Psychology, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.
- Butler, Gillian and Andrew Matthews, 1983. Cognitive Processes in Anxiety. Advances in Behavior Research and Therapy, Vol. 5, Issue 1, pp. 51- 62.
- Deng, Gary and Barrie Cassileth, 2009. Integrative Oncology: Complementary Therapies for Pain, Anxiety, and Mood Disturbance. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. Vol. 55, Issue 2, pp 109-116.