Chronic pain can be especially difficult to treat when combined with the effects of anxiety. It’s fairly common for sufferers to experience both conditions at once, and in such cases, it can be challenging to determine whether the pain is worsening the anxiety, or the anxiety is intensifying the pain; these often work in conjunction to form a debilitating cycle that may be hard to escape.
It’s easy to imagine how chronic pain might cause anxiety:
- Pain lessens our ability effectively keep up with day-to-day responsibilities such as work, household chores or caring for a family, and we naturally worry about making ends meet despite our pain.
- When the demands of a full day aren’t met due to lack of energy or living with pain, the resulting ‘pile-up’ of unfinished tasks feels like added weight on the nerves; this can easily lead to feelings of anxiousness.
In turn, anxiety is known to make chronic pain feel more painful. Even when pain thresholds and tolerance appear to be unaffected, research has shown that acute stress can significantly decrease the body’s ability to regulate pain, leading to a diminished capability for inhibiting pain and an increase in perceived pain intensity.
Anxiety alone can cause many of its own painful symptoms, including:
- Body aches
- “Bruised” sensations
- Body tenderness
- Soreness in the bones
Here are some of the chronic pain conditions that are commonly present in conjunction with anxiety disorders:
Back Pain – Barring those with an acute injury or sudden illness, people who have anxiety disorders are more likely to experience back pain than those who don’t. Anxiety can lead to persistent neck or back stiffness, aches or inflammation.
Fibromyalgia – Studies suggest that one cause of this medical condition has to do with how the brain and body react to acute stress. This condition impairs the joints and causes a hypersensitivity to pain sensations.
Arthritis – This condition causes painful symptoms that can affect multiple areas of the body, and cause damage to organs or bodily systems. Sufferers of arthritis are frequently known to develop anxiety, depression or other mood disorders.
Migraines – Some studies indicate that anxiety and migraine headaches may share a common predisposition. It is not unusual for migraines to precede the onset of various mental disorders, such as depression or panic attacks, nor is it uncommon for these intense headaches to be a product of existing anxiety.
For those who live with both chronic pain and anxiety, it is important to take steps for treating both conditions. Relieving the pain will serve to lessen stress and anxiety, and likewise, a reduction in overall anxiety can help to ease the intensity of the pain symptoms.
While we have previously explored healthy lifestyle habits that can help relieve chronic pain, here are a few recommended methods to help reduce the effects of stress and anxiety:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help to treat mood disorders and boost morale by way of modifications to emotional, behavioral or thought dysfunction.
Cutting down on the intake of ‘trigger’ substances such as caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sugar and other ingestibles known to have an adverse effect on the nerves.
Relaxation Techniques are known to enhance coping skills and soothe the nerves. Some common methods include breathing exercises, mediation and even physical training.
Restful sleep is important for rejuvenation and regeneration; getting plenty of shut-eye helps to lessen the occurrence of frazzled nerves, irritability and fatigue.
Medications may be recommended in some cases, in order to relax nerves that do not respond to alternative treatment methods.
Where to Find Help
If you are dealing with chronic pain in conjunction with anxiety or mood disorders, you know how overwhelming day-to-day life can be. The good news is, you don’t have to suffer; there is hope and help for treating the ‘whole you’, not just one condition or the other.
At Florida Pain Relief Centers, our compassionate, expert pain management physicians are dedicated to addressing all of the factors that contribute to a painful, diminished quality of life. We believe that life should be enjoyable, not just bearable, and we provide many treatment options for minimizing or eliminating your pain.
If you are tired of suffering, let us help; call Florida Pain Relief Centers at (800) 215-0029 or click the button below to schedule your consultation online for one of our many clinic locations.