Can Anxiety and Stress cause Joint Pain?

Life can be hard at the moment for a lot of people all over the world. It feels everything is so fast and super advanced with the demands on our time and energy hitting an all time high! And so many people are simply not coping!

That used to be me.

After the breakdown of my marriage, losing my job 4 months after that, my world was in utter chaos and I simply didn’t know what to do.

My health even prior to both these significant events was declining. It was weird really because I did a lot to try and maintain and good level of health regardless of what was going on around me or in my life.

I don’t smoke, don’t touch alcohol and exercised at least 3 times a week, often more, especially when I was having marital problems.

They say the fastest way out of stress is to exercise so that’s exactly what I did. However, at 38 my body aches increased, specifically in my knee, hip area and wrist joints.

I knew or thought I was far too young to have arthritis, yet I learnt later after I did my own research, that you can actually get arthritis at a younger age. Knowing that scared me a lot.

However after a thorough diagnosis by my doctor I was found NOT to have arthritis.

This led me to wonder to myself WHY exactly my body felt so achy in the morning or when I was retiring to bed.

I had even started juicing a lot you know carrots and beetroot and celery and apples plus more.

juicing for joint inflammation

Although these were so delicious and healthy, and felt as if they were reducing my pain without the need of any over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs (which I loathe), the pain in my joints when moving continued.

Then I had coffee with a friend one day as I wanted to talk to her about how my body was experiencing a lot of joint pain.

She is a next level (in my opinion) health professional. She knew so much more about health, food and fitness and so when we met up, I talked to her about my joint pain. I asked her what more could I do to stop this pain I was feeling?

She looked at me concerned as she knew me very well including what was happening in my life with my relationship breakdown and my job loss months earlier. I really was just trying to get my life back on track.

She looked at me and asked, “what is it you think about most?”. “How often are you feeling stressed or have feelings of anxiety?”.

I thought these were well, OK questions to ask me but wondered what they had to do with my experiencing joint pain.

And it was from that point, she explained to me, that there was an actual connection to what we think, then what we feel as a consequence to what we think, is directly related to feeling and causing joint pain.

This totally blew my mind. As if this truth set me free in more ways than one!

friends having coffee

After that lunch with my friend, I knew I had to, and had a way to gain back control of my life which I did!

3 months after our lunch meeting, my joint pain was virtually gone. I was so happy not only within my body, but happy within myself.

I started changing the way I thought about things and this had a massive impact on my body aches. They dramatically reduced and I feel I am actually gaining back more strength.

I also started meditation, this was incredible. I definitely recommend this practice to anyone who is suffering from any kind of anxiety or stress.

I am now back in full time employment which has boosted my confidence even more so. I am not in a relationship at the moment, but you know, I don’t want to be right now.

It’s me time, and I am absolutely loving life right now.

What follows below is an excellent information on the connection with anxiety and stress on what part it plays in any joint pain you maybe experiencing. I hope you find it valuable and useful if like me, you are experiencing joint pain.

The relationship between joint pain and anxiety has always been up for debate for a very long time!

Scientists and health practitioners have not always had it easy explaining to the world how fluctuations in emotions can cause physical pain.

However, as contentious as it might seem, investigations reveal that anxiety and joint pain are indeed closely related. In essence, your emotions could have a negative effect on your health subsequently causing your body to ache.

Here is a clear explanation of how anxiety and stress could cause joint pain.

Can Anxiety Make Your Joints Ache?

anxiety and joint pain

Simply put, stress is not good for your overall health and general well-being. It affects the functionality of the body, essentially disrupting sleep, hindering digestion and lowering immune function.

As far as your joints are concerned, anxiety triggers the release of minerals into the bloodstream, consequently depriving your bone tissues the much-needed nutrients for bone formation. This results in weaker bones, making you susceptible to joint pain and fractures.

Stress also forces the adrenal gland to release a stress hormone called cortisol, which is responsible for breaking down carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. While the breakdown of these nutrients is essential, the presence of high amounts of cortisol hormones is dangerous to your health.

This is because it suppresses your body’s repair functions, subsequently leading to inflammation of the joint cartilage. Rather than respond to inflammation, cortisol also reacts to your fight or flight’ functions, eventually upsetting the balance in your body.

joint pain

Another reason you are likely to feel pain in your joints because of stress is due to magnesium depletion. Anxiety releases steroid hormones that inhibit the absorption of magnesium in your cells.

The loss of magnesium subsequently increases pain receptivity and leads to mood swings, muscle cramps and general fatigue.

Moreover, stress causes zinc deficiency by forcing the adrenal glands to release excess histamine into the surrounding tissue. The lack of sufficient zinc in the body leads to weaker immunity, inflammation, and physical pain around the joints.

In essence, zinc deficiency causes improper immune cell activation by increasing inflammatory responses in your body. The side effects of this can lead to unbearable body ache.

Feeling anxious may also lower your moods and reduce the production of estrogen hormones. The fluctuation of estrogen particularly in women may directly affect bone density, leading to general weakness and pain all over the body.

Can Anxiety Cause Leg Pain, Hip Pain and General Weakness?

painful leg

According to various studies, anxiety and negative emotions can cause leg pain, hip pain and general weakness. Whenever you are feeling anxious, your body tends to become tense and inflexible as part of your fight or flight response.

This causes a strain on your joints, legs and hips, as you have to work harder to move your stiff body parts due to the tight muscles. In turn, the extra effort you have to put in will certainly lead to increased discomfort or inflammation, resulting in pain in the affected areas.

Another explanation for pain and general weakness is that anxiety-causing stress releases stress hormones into the bloodstream.  They are then transmitted to targeted spots forcing the body to respond by increasing your heart rate and blood pressure and activating other bodily changes.

A combination of these changes could cause your muscles to feel WEAK.

anxiety causes joint pain

Notably, anxiety and stress can affect any muscle or muscle group in the head, face, neck, shoulders, arms, legs, back and feet, leading to a general weakness in the entire body.

You may feel wobbly, tired or numb in the affected muscles for a few brief moments or for longer periods depending on the intensity of your anxiety.

Furthermore, everyone experiences anxiety differently in that some people might become so tensed and have pain in their hips, legs or stomach while others may not feel any pain at all.

Additionally, some people experience muscle weakness without pain while others experience pain without muscle weakness.

Can Anxiety Cause Muscle Pain?


Persistent tight muscles, muscle tension, aches and muscle pain are some of the symptoms of anxiety. On the flipside, anxiety-causing stress is one of the lead causes of muscle pain and tension.

However, these symptoms manifest themselves as a response to the rising stress levels and the pain may become unbearable so long as you remain anxious.

The soreness and muscle tension is often worse for people with anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Pain that comes because of anxiety is often experienced as muscle spasms, clamping up or twitching. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may experience persistent pain to the extent that you may require medications.

Some people may find the pain so debilitating to the point that it prevents physical activity. With this in mind, it is not surprising to become bedridden due to muscle pain caused by anxiety.

How to Manage and Overcome Anxiety

Muscle pain, joint pain, hip pain and all forms of body aches that come because of anxiety-causing stress may have adverse effects on your health and well-being, consequently affecting your quality of life.

Nobody would wish to be bedridden or impeded from undertaking their responsibilities due to anxiety muscle tension and body pain.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. You can significantly reduce joint pains and muscle aches by effectively managing and overcoming anxiety. Obviously, managing anxiety is not easy, but it is practically possible.

If others could do it before, you too can take the plunge and overcome anxiety for a stress-free and fulfilling life.


Here are proven ways of how to manage and overcome anxiety:


Meds such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI), tricyclic antidepressants, buspirone, trazodone and benzodiazepines are all beneficial drugs used to treat anxiety.

These medications help calm down your nerves, control your blood pressure and heart rate and increase essential minerals such as zinc and magnesium.

However, anxiety meds often come with safety concerns and side effects such as drowsiness, memory loss, slurred speech, nausea, blurred vision and stomach upset.

Furthermore, these drugs are very addictive and they often create a sense of dependence with harsh withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, anxiety meds are only ideal for people with chronic panic attacks and anxiety disorders.

People with acute anxiety may take pain relievers as an alternative to deal with joint pain and general body ache. However, for this to work, it is imperative that you supplement the use of medications with other anxiety management strategies such as exercise and good nutrition.

Engage in Diaphragmatic Breathing


Practising your breathing skills will always come in handy as far as managing a panic attack is concerned. Research shows that diaphragmatic breathing may well help quell errant stress and reduce anxiety by calming your body.

This calm breathing technique expands your belly in and out rather than push your chest up and down, subsequently forcing you to breathe through your nose in a slow and gentle way.

This helps lower blood pressure and reduces levels of stress hormones, giving you the perfect relaxation response to your anxiety.

Exercise can make all the difference

You might not know this, but 20-30 minutes of exercise a day is all you need to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Working out naturally increases your body heat thereby inhibiting the neurotransmitter serotonin that causes panic and anxiety.

It also increases your blood flow by opening up your veins, allowing endorphins to circulate throughout your entire body causing an analgesic effect.

Moreover, completing a workout routine successfully will leave you feeling relaxed, in good moods and better about yourself, allowing you to face your fears with confidence.

Try Meditation

meditation for joint inflammation

Dealing with anxiety could be much easier than you previously thought. Sometimes, it may be most beneficial if you simply focus on something that is less anxiety provoking.

This could be anything from listening to music to going for a walk or even doing some house chores, to distract you from your fears.

If you are a religious person, praying or reading a few scriptures might work wonders to move you closer to your spiritual beliefs and disconnect you from your potential worries.

Notably, meditation practices such as yoga may not only reduce anxiety, but also relieve joint pain and body aches. Yoga requires you to pose in strategic positions that stretch your muscles, subsequently reducing tension and increasing your flexibility.

Having a Positive Mindset

Research shows that anxiety usually originates from fearing things or events that have not even happened in the first place and may never ever occur in the near future. The onset of these fears comes from the fact that most people have a negative mindset about themselves and life in general.

For some unknown reasons, you may feel that you are not good enough to perform a particular task or you may worry about becoming ill, but the truth of the matter is that all these fears are in your mind and they do not exist.

Although life can be unpredictable at times, facing your challenges with a positive mindset can work wonders to help you overcome your anxiety and enjoy a more fulfilling lifestyle. sounds good, right?

Healthy Nutrition


Eating healthy can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Foods rich in vitamins B5, B6 and Iron such as fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and milk play a crucial role in supporting the adrenal glands, which are responsible for regulating the production of serotonin hormones.

This, in turn, activates the hormones of happiness, including the endorphins, dopamines and acetylcholine, subsequently helping you cope with your anxiety.

Still, on nutrition, you should avoid drinks and foods that contain caffeine such as soda, tea, and chocolate and non-prescriptions meds like Midol. Caffeine is a strong stimulant, and eating too much of it can stimulate your fight or flight response, further exacerbating your anxiety.

Also, avoid drinking too much alcohol as it may create a vicious cycle and a sense of dependency where you have to drink in order to relieve your anxiety. When alcohol is not available, your anxiety level may shoot consequently causing a wide range of health problems.

Slow Down More

Life is full of ups and downs that we must face every day to achieve our different goals. However, working your socks off and setting unrealistic targets with an aim of achieving your life goals may do more harm than good by increasing your stress levels.

For instance, with the deadline of a particular task fast approaching, you may start feeling anxious if you are way off your target. Relaxing and slowing down is the only way of fighting anxiety in such situations.

Start by breaking down your tasks into small manageable jobs instead of trying to do a thousand tasks at the same time. Focus on the most important tasks first and let go of the rest for another day. In addition, find pleasure in everything you do to reduce stress and make your life as enjoyable as possible.

Have a regular massage


When was the last time you visited a massage parlour? A therapeutic massage could be helpful in relaxing your muscles and relieving tension, thereby helping reduce anxiety. It will make you forget about your worries while providing optimum relief from muscle pain and tension.

The best part is that you can do it on your own at home or acquire a massage machine that you can use at your own convenience. You may also ask your spouse or any other family member to massage you for the ultimate anxiety relief.

Wrapping Up:

Here is what you need to consider….

Whether you are worried about the safety of your loved one or you are feeling insecure about losing your job, everyone gets anxious at some point in their lives. However, this does not mean that you should allow anxiety to take over your life.

Feeling anxious frequently may cause grievous harm to your health, leading to emotional and physical distress, including joint pain, muscle fatigue and general body aches.

Thankfully, anxiety is manageable and you can overcome the problem by applying some of the steps mentioned above. All you need to do is to stay focused and everything else will just fall in place.

It can be as simple as that!

healthy mindset for reducing inflammation