Runner experiencing joint pain

How Stress Makes Muscle and Joint Pain Worse

You may have noticed that when you’re under emotional stress your aches and pains are more troublesome. This is no coincidence — the body and mind are undeniably interconnected. There are sound physiological reasons that emotional disturbance can bring on or exacerbate muscle and joint pain, especially in the back and neck. 

Regardless of the underlying causes, pain has to be dealt with so that you can function normally and continue to enjoy your life. That’s why patients come to Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine. Our doctors approach musculoskeletal pain holistically, always focusing on what we can do to make you feel better as quickly as possible. To this end, we use complementary, as well as traditional, nonsurgical treatments, including:

  • Acupuncture
  • Braces and other assistive devices, like canes, to rest the injured area
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) to promote healing
  • Physical therapy to restore strength and range of motion
  • Ultrasound-guided injections of a corticosteroid and analgesics to relieve pain and inflammation directly at the source
  • PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) technology which, in addition to treating pain and inflammation, increases blood flow to your cells to promote more rapid healing

The viewpoint of our accomplished physiatrists (doctors who specialize in pain management and restoration of function) contributes greatly to our well-documented success in helping patients heal. By acknowledging that they are whole human beings with emotional as well as physical concerns, we establish a level of trust rarely reached in doctor-patient relationships.

How often is stress part of the problem in cases of joint and muscle pain?

Henry David Thoreau apparently was not wrong when he told us that most of us “live lives of quiet desperation.” According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 7 out of 10 adults in the U.S. report experiencing stress or anxiety that interferes with their life on a daily basis. If stress interferes with our productivity or enjoyment, it stands to reason that it increases our negative perceptions and our pain.

How does stress worsen joint and muscle pain?

When you’re stressed you tense your muscles and your levels of adrenaline and cortisol (both hormones) rise. This physiological response (“fight or flight”) is meant to prepare you for urgent action. When no such action is taken, the physical signs of readiness appear, wearing you out and wearing you down. Your heart pounds; your blood pressure rises; your blood vessels dilate; your breaths come more quickly. 

The longer you are in this state, the more inflammation occurs and inflammation results in increased pain. Pain increased by inflammation may be constant, throbbing, stabbing, or pinching. It results from the buildup of fluid that leads to swelling. Swollen tissues put pressure on sensitive nerve endings, making pain more intense.

It’s Not All in Your Head

While many of our patients come into our offices with sports or traffic accident injuries, a large number consult with us about chronic pain conditions made worse by the inability to relax. We never attribute pain to imaginary causes. We know you are not malingering. As a matter of fact, most patients wait far too long to realize that their chronic pain is actually treatable and that just as stress worsens pain, it is impossible not to be stressed when you’re suffering. 

Contact Us Today So We Can Start Helping You Heal in a Stress-Free Environment

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, the atmosphere is relaxed. We will listen to you carefully, examine you gently, and properly diagnose your condition. Then, we will find the right combination of treatments to address your pain and your stress simultaneously. We are fully committed to giving you back your sense of health and well-being.